The Centre College women are happy to be home for the weekend.
Centre will host first- and second-round games in the NCAA Division III tournament this weekend at Alumni Gymnasium.
The Colonels, who won the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament to secure their first NCAA berth since 2001, learned Monday they will host Guilford in their first-round game Friday night.
“We’re just really excited,” Centre coach Wendie Austin-Robinson said. “We thought we had a good shot at playing at home just because of our location. A lot of it’s done on location, and we’re the centrally located team of the pod.”
Centre will also host Washington (Mo.), last year’s national runner-up, and Ferrum. The Centre-Guilford game will be the second game of Friday’s first-round doubleheader, and the winner will play the Washington-Ferrum winner Saturday. Game times will be determined today.
Guilford (22-6) defeated top-seeded Virginia Wesleyan to win the Old Dominion Athletic Conference tournament. The Quakers, located in Greensboro, N.C., are making their third NCAA appearance and their first since 2002.
The NCAA bracket was announced Monday in an online selection show, and Austin-Robinson said she is just beginning to learn about Guilford.
“We don’t even get to exchange film until (today),” she said. “But at this point everybody’s good, everybody deserves to be here. We just hope we can keep building on this weekend.”
Centre (24-3) set a school record for wins during their 3-0 run in the SCAC tournament, which gave them an automatic berth to the NCAA tournament, and has the highest winning percentage in the program’s history.
“They really were on a mission to win it, to secure their fate and not leave it in anybody’s hands,” Austin-Robinson said. “This is a special group and we’ve had a really special season, so you don’t want it to end.”
Centre is making its seventh NCAA appearance. The Colonels reached the Final Four in 1989 and ’90.
Austin-Robinson said many of the players gathered to watch the selection show Monday, and she said they cheered the news that they would get to play at home.
“It was exciting to see who we were going to play,” she said. “When we saw it, we were just really excited to be able to host and play in front of our fans and keep our kids at home and in their own beds and not have to travel.”
St. Louis-based Washington (20-5), the 2010 national champion and 2011 runner-up, earned an at-large bid after finishing second in the University Athletic Association. Ferrum (23-5), located in Virginia, won the USA South tournament to earn its bid.