March 4, 2000
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The University of Utah is the No. 1 seed for the 2000 McLeodUSA Mountain West Conference Women's Basketball Championship to be held at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas March 8-11. All eight Mtn. West institutions will compete in the single-elimination event for the first league title. BYU earned the No. 2 seed, followed by No. 3 seed-Colorado State, No. 4 New Mexico, No. 5 UNLV, No. 6 Wyoming, No. 7 San Diego State and No. 8 Air Force. Quarterfinal games will begin at Noon on Wednesday, with Colorado State meeting Wyoming in game one. BYU faces San Diego State in the second game, which is slated to begin at 2:30 p.m. The night session begins at 6 p.m. with New Mexico battling UNLV. The final quarterfial game is a rematch of a regular-season finale as Utah meets Air Force.
The Utes won the inaugural Mtn. West regular-season title with a 94-42 win over eighth-place Air Force on the final day of action. These two teams will meet in the first round at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday. The Utes swept the season series with the Falcons, claiming an 85-49 win at Air Force on Feb. 5. Utah finished the regular season with an 11-3 record in league games and reached the 20-win mark for the fifth consecutive season. This marks the fourth straight season that Utah has claimed at least a share of the conference title and the first time since 1996-97 that they have won the title outright. Last season, Utah tied New Mexico for the Western Athletic Conference Pacific Division title, but earned the second-seed in the tournament. Air Force finished the season 4-23 and 1-13 in conference play. Air Force has not made an appearance in the conference tournament since joining the NCAA Division I ranks in 1996-97.
BYU claimed the No. 2 seed in the tournament and will meet No. 7-seed San Diego State in the second quarterfinal game at 2:30 p.m. on March 8. BYU swept the season series with SDSU, winning 60-37 on Jan. 15 and 84-58 on Feb. 12. The Cougars posted a 60-45 win over New Mexico in the final day of play to move into second place in the final standings. BYU claimed its fourth consecutive win and reached the 20-win mark for the first time since the 1992-93 season, finishing with a 20-7 overall record and a 10-4 conference slate. San Diego State ended the regular-season on a high-note by upsetting Colorado State, 58-51, on the final day of regular-season action March 4. With the win, the Aztecs sweep the season-series with CSU and climb into a tie for sixth place in the standings with Wyoming, but are the No. 7 seed by virtue of the tie-break guidelines which use head-to-head followed by record vs. conference teams in descending order. SDSU enters the tournament 9-18 overall and 4-10 in conference play.
Colorado State will play No. 6 seed Wyoming in the first game of the tournament at Noon onWednesday. The Rams won both games in the series this season (86-69 on Jan. 15 and 89-48 on Feb. 11). CSU lost its last three games of the season, falling to UNLV (84-69) and San Diego State (58-51) at home during the final week. The Rams are 19-8 overall and finished in a tie with New Mexico for third place in the conference standings with a 9-5 league mark. CSU earned the No. 3 seed by virtue of the tie-break guidelines. Wyoming suffered a 96-81 loss to UNLV in its final game to finish in a tie for sixth place in the standings with San Diego State. The Cowgirls are the No. 6 seed after sweeping the Aztecs in head-to-head games this season.
The hottest team in the league and riding a five-game win streak into the tournament, No. 5seed-UNLV will face No. 4-seed New Mexico in the 6 p.m. game on March 4. UNLV won both games of the regular-season series with UNM (55-51 on Jan.22 and 65-50 on Feb. 10). The Rebels enter the tournament on their home court with a 16-11 overall record and finished with an 8-6 league record to claim fifth place in the standings. New Mexico lost both games during the final week of regular-season action falling, 67-59, at Utah on March 2 and, 60-45, at BYU on March 4. The Lobos bring an 18-9 overall mark into the tournament and tied with Colorado State for third place in the final standings with a 9-5 conference record, but are the No. 4 seed due to the tie breaker.
All eight Mountain West Conference member institutions competed in the 16-team Western AthleticConference last season. In the 1999 12-team WAC conference tournament, Colorado State finished as runner-up to SMU. New Mexico reached the semifinals, while UNLV, Utah and BYU won one game each to reach the quarterfinals. During their nine years affiliated with the WAC, Mtn. West teams won seven WAC women's basketball tournament championships. Utah appeared in all nine tournaments, posting a 12-7 record and claiming two titles (1991 and 1995). San Diego State made the last of its seven tournament appearances in 1997 and claimed two titles (1994 and 1997) while posting an 11-5 record. BYU, Colorado State and New Mexico made eight tournaments and each won once. The Cougars are 9-7 in the WAC tournament and claimed the 1993 title. The Rams are 8-7 and won in 1996. The Lobos are 8-8 and won in 1998. Wyoming made its last appearance in 1998, but is 0-8 in the conference tournament. UNLV, which joined the WAC in 1996-97, made its only appearance in 1999, going 1-1. Air Force did not qualify for the WAC tournament in its three years at the Division I level.
SportsWest will televise all of the games from the first two days of play. The Championship game will be televised live on ESPN2 at 9:35 p.m. Saturday, March 11.
Wednesday, March 8
Noon, #3 Colorado State vs. #6 Wyoming (SportsWest)
2:30 p.m., #2 BYU vs. #7 San Diego State (SportsWest)
6 p.m., #4 New Mexico vs. #5 UNLV (SportsWest)
8:30 p.m., #1 Utah vs. #8 Air Force (SportsWest)
Friday, March 10
Noon, Colorado State/Wyoming winner vs. BYU/San Diego State winner (SportsWest)
2:30 p.m., New Mexico/UNLV winner vs. Utah/Air Force winner
Saturday, March 11
9:35 p.m., CHAMPIONSHIP GAME (ESPN2)