PIKEVILLE – For the third time in school history, and second straight season, the University of Pikeville men’s and women’s basketball teams both qualified for the NAIA National Tournament in the same season.
The UPIKE men received the NAIA’s No. 1 at-large bid and No. 2-seed and will play seventh-seeded William Jessup (Calif.) at 5:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, March 17. The women picked up the 12th at-large invitation and a No. 6-seed and will play third-seeded Wayland Baptist (Texas) at 10 a.m. ET on Thursday as well.
Head coach Kelly Wells’ men’s team is heading to nationals for the fourth straight season and 10th time overall, while Joanna McNamee, in her third season at the helm, is taking the women on their fourth trip.
Last season, McNamee’s team took UPIKE to nationals for the first time since 2003. Prior to that, the women had been just one other time in 1998.
The Bears are 0-3 in the women’s national tournament, falling 80-71 last season to Langston (Okla.), 64-40 to The Master’s (Calif.) in 2003 and 78-51 to top-seeded Union (Tenn.) in 1998.
In just her third season at the helm, McNamee has led the Bears to 23-8 overall records in the past two regular seasons, the second best records in program history
UPIKE’s men won an NAIA National Championship in 2011 and are 11-8 in the national tournament overall, including a 4-5 mark in first-round games. Last season, the Bears advanced to the national quarterfinals before losing to Talladega (Ala.) 64-62.
The 2015 bid to nationals was the first time in men’s program history that it had made three consecutive trips, and now the streak only grows as Wells is making his fifth trip since taking over in 2006.
Wells, in his 10th season at UPIKE, has his group at 25-5 heading into the national tournament. The Bears have had unprecedented success over the last six seasons with a combined record of 155-39. In that time, there has been a national championship, MSC Tournament Championship and two MSC Regular-Season titles.
In just her third season at the helm, McNamee has led the Bears to 23-8 overall records in the past two regular seasons, the second best records in program history.
Both NAIA National Championship events are scheduled for March 16-22 with the men’s tournament to be played in Kansas City, Mo., at the Municipal Auditorium and the women’s championship played out in Independence, Mo., at the Silverstein Eye Center Arena.