Missouri State women ready to make run in NCAA Tournament

The Bears swept through the Missouri Valley Conference undefeated.
The Bears swept through the Missouri Valley Conference undefeated.(KY3)
Published: Mar. 15, 2021 at 6:27 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 15, 2021 at 6:30 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Amaka Agugua-Hamilton knew her Missouri State Lady Bears did enough during the regular season to earn a spot in the Women’s NCAA Tournament. Still, the Lady Bears head coach was relieved when it was revealed Missouri State is an at-large No. 5 seed and will open against No. 12 seed UC-Davis on Monday, March 22.

“I just started yelling. I mean, I was so happy. I was just so proud,” said Agugua-Hamilton. “You know, hard work paid off and then to see number five next to it too. That’s a great seed. I just was ecstatic just like everybody else, and I was just in the moment, completely in the moment. I was just smiling, watching our players take pictures and just enjoying the confetti and enjoying being around each other. Enjoying seeing their name up there, and then, just enjoying the journey. That’s what it’s all about.”

The Missouri State team gathered on the court at JQH Arena to watch the Selection Show on the scoreboard big screen. This is the fifth time in school history that Missouri State (21-2) has earned an at-large NCAA Tournament bid. It’s also ties the program’s highest seed.

“I definitely think we deserved maybe a No. 4 seed, but just knowing that we worked really hard and just proved what we were to the committee and just the nation,” said senior Brice Calip. “Everybody knows Missouri State is a great team. We waited two years for this moment. It’s a great feeling.”

The Lady Bears won their second consecutive MVC regular season title with a 16-0 conference record, and they enter the NCAA Tournament ranked no. 20 in the AP Poll.

“You know I love it for our players. We put in a lot of work. We work hard. So obviously when you work for the month of March and you play all year for this month and don’t get to do that last year, it means a lot more to actually see your name flashed up on there.” said Coach Mox. “We just couldn’t wait to get to this point and also can’t wait to see what’s beyond this point.”

Missouri State made the difficult decision to withdraw from the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament last weekend when their semifinal opponent - Drake - had a positive COVID-19 test. The Lady Bears didn’t want to risk missing out on playing in the NCAA Tournament.

“This this past weekend was unfortunate. The events that took place, and we just had to take care of ourselves and keep ourselves as healthy as possible and just control our own destiny and make sure that we don’t miss out on this moment,” said Coach Mox. “Unfortunately, it had to go down the way it did. But at the end of the day, this is what we played for, and this was really important to our program, and I’m happy that we’re going to be able to experience it.”

The entire Women’s NCAA Tournament will be played in the San Antonio/Austin/San Marcos region. The Lady Bears will leave for Texas on Wednesday. Their first-round game against UC Davis will be played at 6:30 Monday at Bill Greehey Arena on the campus of St. Mary’s University in San Antonio. The game will be televised on ESPNU.

The last time Missouri State was a No. 5 seed was in 2001. That year, the Lady Bears advanced to the Final Four.

UC Davis is 13-2 overall and 9-1 in the Big West Conference.

If the Lady Bears win on Monday night, they will advance to play the winner between No. 4 seed Arkansas and No. 13 Wright State on March 24.

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