By ANDY WOLF
The University of Findlay women’s basketball team had a lot of time to think about its NCAA tournament fate.
Maybe too much time.
More than 24 hours passed between their last game, a loss in the GMAC tournament finals Saturday, and selection Sunday.
As tough as it was to keep it out of their minds, they did, in fact think about it.
“We all tried to keep busy on Sunday,” senior guard Emily Molnar said. “I went to church with (junior) Kennis (Mercer), and we spent most of the day shopping and ended up seeing a lot of our teammates there.”
Ultimately, it was out of their control.
It was even difficult to feel too strongly about it one way or the other.
“All day everyone was 50/50 on whether we were going to get in or not,” junior forward Jenna Stegmaier said. “Every hour, their decision was changing — yeah we’re going to go, no we weren’t going go. It was really exciting when our name popped up.”
Hillsdale stealing the GMAC tournament automatic bid meant there was one less spot available. Cedarville, Lewis and Findlay sat sixth, seventh and eighth in the most recent Midwest regional rankings.
The entire team got together for the 10 p.m. selection show in their study table room.
“We all got here and it was weird energy because we didn’t know,” Molnar said. “And nothing you can do to change it.”
As the anticipation grew, it finally became time.
“Our coaches pulled (the video) up (online),” Molnar said. “We started freaking out because the countdown went to zero and nothing popped up and we’re like ‘we’re going to miss it.'”
Once the video came readily available, the UF coaching staff made them watch the entire thing — rather than fast-forwarding to their region.
UF head coach Jim Wiedie felt strongly that his team would be on the No. 7 line and Hillsdale the No. 8.
Hillsdale’s name came up first as the eighth and final team.
He didn’t envision jumping Lewis in the rankings, but thought it would be between the Oilers and Cedarville, which lost in the GMAC semifinals.
A few spots later, Findlay’s name appeared. Cedarville didn’t make the cut.
“Our strength of schedule was better,” Wiedie said, “if you look at the nonconference games they had versus the nonconference games we had and the fact we had beaten them twice.
“When you take all those things into consideration, I think the committee made the right decision.”
Even Wiedie had a hint of uncertainty.
“I was still nervous until that No. 7 line came up,” Wiedie said.
The time for celebration is over.
The Oilers aren’t just happy to be there, either.
But they are rather happy.
“We’re obviously pretty excited,” Wiedie said. “Just happy for the seniors. It’s the first time they made it to conference tournament since they’ve been here. To make it to the championship game and now have the opportunity to get to the NCAA, I’m just really happy for them and excited to see us play against Drury.”
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