March 12, 2000

NORMAN, Okla. -- The University of Oklahoma women's basketball team earned its first at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament in five years when the Sooners were named the fifth seed in the East Region during the tournament pairings announcement by the NCAA Selection Committee on Sunday, March 12.

Oklahoma enters the NCAA Championship with an overall record of 23-7 and tri-Big 12 Conference regular season champions. The Sooners will face Brigham Young University (BYU) in West Lafayette, Ind., on Saturday, March 18 in the first round of the East Region. Tipoff time has not been officially announced.

BYU earned the No. 12 seed with an overall record of 22-8, including a 10-4 mark Mountain West Conference (MWC) play. The Cougars also finished second in the MWC Tournament, losing to Utah, 61-47 in the title game.

Purdue, which earned the No. 4 seed in the East Region, will play host to the four-team sub-regional. The Boilermakers battle No. 13 seed Dartmouth (20-7). Dartmouth boasts an overall record of 20-7 and winner of the Ivy League regular season title with a mark of 9-2. The Ivy League is one of only two leagues in the NCAA that does not conduct a post season conference tournament to determine its automatic bid winner. The Pac-10 Conference is the other.

Oklahoma's bid into the tournament marks the first time in school history that the Sooners have been a part of the field of 64 teams invited to the "Big Dance." Oklahoma is 2-2 in the previous NCAA Tournaments. OU's last NCAA Tournament showing was in 1994-95 when the Sooners were one of 48 teams competing in the NCAA Championship. OU defeated Loyola (Md) in the first round before losing to Louisiana Tech in Ruston, La. Oklahoma also competed in the 1985-86 NCAA Tournament were OU earned a first round bye and defeated Vanderbilt in the second round before losing to Texas in the regional semifinals. The Longhorns won the national championship that year.

"I was shaky before the selection, because I have never been able to see our name on the screen," said OU Head Coach Sherri Coale. "There's 64-teams still playing and we are one of them. I'm thrilled."

"The team is very focused. They had solid workouts over the weekend and I think they've learned some things from the Texas game in Kansas City. They now realize that, especially because of Phylesha Whaley, its special to be one of those 64 teams still playing."

"Playing in a league as tough as the Big 12 has a lot to do with us being a good team," stated Coale. "The Big 12 carries a lot of weight. There was never a night to where you knew you were going to win. We had to play, and play well, every single game to win. That's one of the reasons we are encouraged going into this tournament."

Six Big 12 teams earned bids into the 2000 NCAA Tournament, including Big 12 regular-season and tournament champion Iowa State, which claimed the No. 3 seed in the Midwest Region. Regular-season tri-champion Texas Tech also captured a No. 3 seed and Nebraska earned the No. 12 seed in the in the Mideast Region. Big 12 Tournament runner-up Texas earned a No. 7 seed in the West, while Kansas received a No. 8 seed in the Midwest.

The Sooners have played 13 games this season against 10 teams that earned bids in the NCAA Tournament, including Texas (3), Texas Tech (2), Iowa State, Kansas, Connecticut, Stephen F. Austin, Arizona, Tennessee Tech and San Diego.