WBIT & Hawai’i: The “what-to-know” for newest tournament in women’s March Madness

WBIT & Hawai’i: The “what-to-know” for newest tournament in women’s March Madness

WBIT & Hawai’i: The “what-to-know” for newest tournament in women’s March Madness

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED MAR 19, 2024

What exactly is the Women’s Basketball Invitation Tournament?

Many questions have been asked about what exactly the WBIT is, when it started and how you get to play it. 

Never fear, a pretty simple breakdown is here: 

The WBIT (Women’s Basketball Invitation Tournament) is a new NCAA-sanctioned postseason tournament that takes 32 of the top teams in the country not invited to the NCAA Tournament (March Madness) and places them in a bracket against each other. Announced in Fall 2023, the tournament brings the number of NCAA postseason chances for collegiate women’s teams to over 100 without pay-to-play models. 

Teams that win their respective regular season conference titles but lose in their conference tournaments earn automatic bids into the WBIT while the other spots are filled with “at-large” bids that are determined by a committee 

It is NOT the same tournament as the WNIT, which is not an NCAA-sanctioned postseason tournament and is run by an outside company. Confusion for fans typically comes from the similarity to the men’s National Invitation Tournament (NIT) which IS run by the NCAA. 

The WBIT creation was helped by a 2021 Gender Equity Report recommendation to help provide a similar amount of postseason chances as men’s basketball, continuing the skyrocketing popularity of women’s basketball as the tournament’s opening rounds will air on ESPN+ before the semifinals and championship work their way up to ESPNU and ESPN2 respectively.  

Learn more at the tournament’s official FAQ, here: https://www.ncaa.com/championships/basketball-women/wbit/faqs 

Hawai’i will play in the opening round of the WBIT against #2 seed Cal with the game being broadcast at 4:00 p.m. HT on Thursday, March 21 on ESPN+ with the winner of the game advancing to take on the winner of the Seton Hall-St. Joseph’s on March 24.

Hawai’i opens quest for three-peat with dominant showing in UH-Hilo exhibition

Hawai’i opens quest for three-peat with dominant showing in UH-Hilo exhibition

Hawai’i opens quest for three-peat with dominant showing in UH-Hilo exhibition

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED NOV 1, 2023

HONOLULU — The University of Hawai’i Rainbow Wahine basketball team opened the 2023-24 season with a bang on Wednesday night, not losing a single quarter in the 67-39 exhibition win over rival-island program UH-Hilo at the Stan Sheriff Center. 

UH started off slowly, struggling to finish inside and seeing the Vulcans score the game’s first points before ripping off a 22-3 run to close the opening 10 minutes with the lead, 22-5. In the frame, the ‘Bows knocked down four 3-pointers (two each from guards Olivia Davies and Meilani McBee) and shot 50% from the floor. 

The Rainbow Wahine continued to work into form in the 2nd quarter, trading buckets with UH-Hilo and working through a tighter whistle by the officials on defense. While the score kept UH-Hilo at arms’ length, the Rainbow Wahine still felt as though there was meat left on the bone. 

“The 1st quarter was great on both sides of the ball,” Hawai’i HC Laura Beeman said postgame. “Then, I thought quarters two, three and four really slipped. I thought we played really fun basketball in the 1st quarter… we can’t have slippage in our execution.” 

The ‘Bows entered the locker rooms leading by 20, seeing nine different players record buckets and three new faces making their UH debuts between freshmen Jade Peacock and Vivienne Berrett and Michigan State transfer Brooklyn Rewers.  

The 3rd quarter presented more of the same as UH showed off the impressive depth it boasts at every position, pushing the lead to as much as 29 in the period. Again, it was McBee buoying the offense with six points in the frame, hitting two more triples. 

Hawai’i struggled to score in the final quarter of play, mustering a game-low 11 points in the quarter as Beeman and staff toyed with lineups and gave additional burn to depth pieces getting accustomed to the ‘Bows culture. Even in a quarter that saw UH shoot under 22% from the floor, the Rainbow Wahine’s defense stood strong to hold UH-Hilo to 11 points in the final 10 minutes. 

Hawai’i-Hilo was led by Noelle Sua-Godinet’s nine points and four boards, followed closely behind by Kaile Cruz’s seven points in the loss. The exhibition marked Sua-Godinet’s first game-action since March 2022. The Vulcans kick off the regular season on November 10 at HPU’s “Shark Tank” against #15 Montana State Billings. 

The Rainbow Wahine were led by McBee’s 13 points, hitting four 3-pointers and hauling in six rebounds in the win. Berrett chipped in 11 points, reaching double-digits in her first collegiate action as 10 different ‘Bows scored in the win. 

Hawai’i opens the season on the road next Wednesday, November 8 against #15 Stanford as part of a gauntlet non-conference schedule to prepare the two-time defending Big West tournament champions to defend the titles for another year. 

“[Stanford]’s good, they’re really good. They’re 15th for a reason,” Beeman chuckled when asked what needed to improve in a week’s time. “We have to rebound much, much better and pursue the ball better… Stanford is where they are because they’re skilled, but they also do all of the little things with the communication, the intensity, the follow-through and they play at a level the entire time and I know that’s something we can get to.” 

It’s a tough test. It’s a purposeful one, too. 

“We’re going to go in there and we’re going to be ready to play,” Beeman stated. “We’re not backing down to anybody, we have to be able to go for four quarters.”