By Colleen Kane
The Cincinnati Enquirer
This isn't the ending Cincinnati guard Valerie King had hoped for, but she'll take it.
And taking it for five more games in the Women's National Invitation Tournament would make the senior's last season all that more acceptable.
"Our goal is NCAA every year, but if not NCAA, than any postseason. So we're just excited to play, and we're in it to win it," King said.
Seniors King and Brittani Young begin their fourth postseason appearance in four years when the Bearcats take on Western Kentucky at 8 p.m. today in Bowling Green, Ky., in the opening round of the WNIT.
UC is making its seventh straight postseason appearance. But where the past two seasons ended with NCAA berths, this up-and-down 15-15 season, which included the suspension of star player Debbie Merrill, left the Bearcats in the WNIT. And even that wasn't a certainty until late Sunday night.
"We sort of made the bed that we have to sleep with this postseason. It's not what we desired," UC coach Laurie Pirtle said. "But they really wanted to get in, whereas other times, because of disappointment, they would have been acting like it's beneath them. But these seniors want to put on a uniform again. They want to leave a mark still."
King said a WNIT championship is "definitely" one of the team's goals, but it won't be easy. The WNIT field contains four other Conference USA teams that finished ahead of UC, including a Louisville team many feel should have made the NCAA Tournament.
The Bearcats, who lost in the Conference USA quarterfinals to eventual champion Houston, will play their first game in two weeks when they take on the Lady Toppers tonight. Tonight's winner moves on to play the winner of Thursday night's Tulsa-Memphis matchup. Western Kentucky (18-13) is led by guard Tiffany Porter-Talbert's 16.3 points and 8.2 rebounds. Guard Leslie Logsdon adds 14.2 points a game.
"They push the ball really hard," King said. "They like to take quick shots. They're a good team, and we're going to have to go in and play aggressive defense."
King leads UC with 15.7 points, but she has averaged 23.2 points in her last five games.
"Anything the team needs, whether it's scoring points or something else, I'm more than willing to do whatever," King said.
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