With a 62-46 win over Seattle University on Saturday, California Baptist women’s basketball became the first team since 2018 and 24th team since 1982 to finish the regular season undefeated.
However, as they enter the WAC Tournament as the No. 1 seed, they will not be able to enter the NCAA Tournament even with a conference tournament title.
California Baptist University, a private Christian school located in Riverside, California, is in year three of a four-year transition phase to become an official Division I school. The Lancers left Division II in 2018, which means they are not eligible for an NCAA tournament in any sport until the 2022-23 season.
“Everyone’s big thing is going to the big dance and seeing how far they get in March. And it feels like a bit of a punch in the face knowing that we can only go so far,” senior guard Georgia Dale said to the Associated Press earlier this week.
As the conference’s regular season champions, they are set to play in the WAC semifinals on Friday. If they advance and win the championship game on Saturday, they’ll be the first team since the 2017-2018 UConn Huskies to go undefeated and win a conference tournament.
If the Lancers win the WAC Tournament title, they’d be the first undefeated team since 1983 to not make the NCAA Tournament. However the team does still have postseason plans, as they will play in the Women’s National Invitational Tournament that begins on March 19, two days before the NCAA Tournament.
Utah Valley, which finished second in the conference regular season standings, is projected to take the WAC’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, according to ESPN.
Part of the transition to become a Division I school is that all statistics are not recognized by the NCAA, meaning that senior guard Ane Olaeta’s 7.7 assists a game is not recognized as best in the nation.
The Lancers went 22-0 with a 16-0 conference record. They dominated WAC play, as they outscored conference opponents by an average on 18.6 points a game. They’ll play the winner of Seattle and New Mexico State in the tournament semifinals on Friday.