MT WBB CUSA championship 2023

For the 20th time in program history, including the ninth time under current head coach Rick Insell, the Middle Tennessee women's basketball team is going dancing. 

The No. 25-ranked Blue Raiders clinched a NCAA Tournament bid on Saturday with an 82-70 win over Western Kentucky in the Conference USA championship game at the Ford Center at The Star just outside of Dallas. 

Lafayette native Jalynn Gregory was named tournament MVP after leading the team with 24 points (on 6-10 shooting) and four rebounds. Gregory was also 7-7 from the free throw line. As a team, the Blue Raiders shot 21-24 from the charity stripe. 

Kseniya Malashka, who was also named to the All-Tournament team, had 14 points and six rebounds. Alexis Whittington added 16 points and six rebounds, while Savannah Wheeler had 11 points, three rebounds, and five assists. 

Now, the 11-seed Blue Raiders (28-4) will be headed to Durham, North Carolina for a first round matchup with 6-seed Colorado on Saturday. 

The Blue Raiders are the only Nashville-area school to clinch a spot in the NCAA Tournament this season. In other areas of the state, the Tennessee men and women both earned bids, the Memphis men won the C-USA title game on Sunday to solidify a March Madness spot, the Chattanooga women are back in the tournament, and the Tennessee Tech women are going dancing for the first time since 2000. 

The Belmont women were also playing for a bid this weekend. In just their first season as league members, the 2-seed Bruins advanced to the Missouri Valley Conference championship game, where they fell to 4-seed Drake 89-71 in Moline, Ill., snapping a 16-game win streak for Belmont. 

Junior Destinee Wells did everything she could to lead Belmont past the Bulldogs, finishing with a game-high 34 points (on 13-24 shooting), three rebounds, three assists, and a steal. Kilyn McGuff (15 points) was the only other Bruin in double-figures. 

Belmont (23-11) received an at-large bid to the NIT, which kicks off on March 15. Their opponent and first-round date has yet to be determined. 

The Vanderbilt (20-14) men nearly made a miracle run to the NCAA Tournament, falling short in the SEC semifinals to Texas A&M. For their efforts, the 'Dores will be headed to the NIT. They are set to take on Ivy League regular season champion Yale in Nashville on March 14 at 8 p.m. 

The MTSU men almost had an incredible March story of their own to tell. The 4-seed Blue Raiders fell to top-seeded and eventual champion Florida Atlantic 68-65 in the C-USA semifinals on Friday after coming back from 16 points down to tie the game with three minutes remaining.