The Sam Houston women’s basketball team makes its first Women’s National Invitational Tournament (WNIT) appearance Thursday night when the Bearkats take on Tulane at 7 p.m. at Devlin Field House in New Orleans.

Sam Houston earned its WNIT berth with an 18-14 overall record, going 13-5 to earn the Bearkats’ their first Southland Conference regular season women’s basketball championship in 26 seasons in the league.

The Bearkats made their first women’s national post-season tournament appearance last year, defeating Rice in the first round of the Women’s Basketball Invitational (WBI) before falling in the quarterfinals to Northern Iowa.

For Tulane, Thursday’s game marks the Green Wave’s third trip to the WNIT in as many years and Tulane’s 15th overall postseason appearance. Tulane enter the tournament with a 22-8 overall record after tying for second place in Conference USA.

“Everyone, coaches and players, is really excited still be playing at this time of the year,” head coach Brenda Nichols said. “We know Tulane has an outstanding team with a really strong backcourt.”

Sam Houston was the runner-up in the Southland post-season tournament in Katy last weekend, reaching the league finals for the first time.

Sequeena Thomas and Angela Beadle were named all-tournament. Thomas averaged 16.0 points and 15.0 rebounds per game while teammate Beadle pulled down 11 rebounds in the championship game and nine in the semifinals along with scoring 19 against Lamar.

The Southland Conference has sent a team to the WNIT for seven consecutive years with Sam Houston State receiving its first-ever invitation this season.

Thomas also earned honors as Southland “Defensive Player of the Year”, leading the league in rebounding with 12.5 rebounds per conference game, including 9.4 defensive rebounds per league game. She registered 1.3 blocks per contest and recorded a league-best 19 double-doubles.

Brenda Nichols earned her first coach of the year award after guiding the Bearkats to their first overall South Conference regular-season championship. 

Sam Houston senior guard Britni Martin was selected to the All-Southland first team for the third consecutive season. Martin leads the Bearkats in scoring with 16.2 points per game, which ranks fifth in the Southland. She ranks second in the league in 3-pointers made (2.5 per game), fourth in free throw percentage (.817) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.4) and fifth in assists (4.2). Thomas completed the first-team all-conference selections.

Sam Houston’s will feature live audio streaming of Thursday’s WNIT game.