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The UNI Women's basketball team is being rewarded for their play during an unusual season impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Panthers (14-12) have a received an at-large bid to the Women's National Invitation Tournament (WNIT). They are scheduled to play Dayton (14-3) on Friday at 11 AM in Rockford, Ill.

This year's WNIT is structured differently than previous events. The tournament features eight teams playing at each of four regional sites -- Charlotte, N.C.; Fort Worth, Texas; Memphis, Tenn.; and Rockford -- and there is no formal seeding for the 32 teams in the field.

First-round play begins Friday. Second-round games are scheduled for Saturday, and third-round games will be played Monday. The four regional champions will advance to the Memphis site, with the semifinals tipping off March 26 and the championship game set for March 28.

All games will be available via streaming through FloHoops.

The tournament usually features 64 teams, but organizers cut the field in half this season because of COVID-19 issues. This is the 23rd year for the postseason WNIT and the first year the event has bracketed only 32 teams since 2006.

Each team chosen for the WNIT this year is guaranteed to play at least two games. Due to a format change, each region will feature a consolation semifinal and consolation championship game.

UNI will face either Creighton (9-11) or Bowling Green (20-6) in the second round. If the Panthers beat Dayton on Friday, they'll play Saturday at 5 PM. UNI would play at 11 AM, if the Flyers beat UNI.

The WNIT bid is UNI's 10th postseason appearance in the past 11 seasons, not including last year's postseason that was cut short due to the pandemic. It is the Panthers' ninth WNIT appearance overall.

UNI finished Missouri Valley Conference play in fourth-place at 11-7. Dayton won the regular-season Atlantic-10 Conference title before falling to VCU in the league tournament semifinals. Friday's game will be the first-ever meeting between the programs.

UNI vs. Missouri State (Jan. 15, 2021)

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