news-category: Athletics

Gardner-Webb Women Headed to the Big Dance

Runnin’ Bulldogs Open Play at No. 2 Utah on Friday, March 17

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—The Gardner-Webb women’s basketball team will play at No. 2 seed Utah on Friday, March 17, in the first round of the NCAA Division I Basketball Championships.

The Runnin’ Bulldogs (29-4) are the No. 15 seed in the region and will take on the Utes (25-4) from the PAC-12 Conference. It will be the two schools’ first meeting.

Gardner-Webb welcomed a packed house to Tucker Student Center Sunday, March 12, for ESPN’s Selection Show, with a live look in when the Runnin’ Bulldogs were announced. The team left for the trip with a send-off celebration on Wednesday morning (March 15).

The game time for Friday’s matchup is 7:30 p.m. It is Gardner-Webb’s first NCAA Tournament trip since 2011, when the No. 14 seeded Runnin’ Bulldogs came up short 80-62 to No. 3 Miami (Fla.) in Charlottesville, Va.

Head coach Alex Simmons’ team is in the midst of a terrific run, winning a school and Big South Conference-record 29 games—which includes a program-record 21-game win streak.

Four of Gardner-Webb’s five starters earned All-Big South honors in 2023, led by Player of the Year and Big South Tournament MVP Jhessyka Williams – who needs only three more points to become the second-leading scorer in program history. She is already the third woman in Gardner-Webb basketball annals to reach 2,000 career points, sitting at 2,029 after tying a Big South title game record with 33 points on March 5.

Friday’s game will air on the ESPN family of networks and will also air live on 730 AM The Game ( with Phil Constantino and Jim “Mojo” Morrison on the air.

Fans are invited to join GWU Alumni and friends at the Runnin’ Bulldogs Watch Party on Friday, March 17, at Coach’s Neighborhood Grill, 1237 E. Dixon Blvd., Shelby, N.C.

Championship apparel celebrating the women’s historic season is available online through the tournament at official GWU Big South Women’s Basketball online stores. Check out the details at the Barnes & Noble Spirit Store and the

Gardner-Webb University is North Carolina’s recognized leader in private, Christian higher education. A Carnegie-Classified Doctoral/Professional University, GWU is home to nine colleges and schools, more than 80 undergraduate and graduate majors, and a world-class faculty. Located on a beautiful 225-acre campus in Boiling Springs, N.C., Gardner-Webb prepares graduates to impact their chosen professions, equips them with the skills to advance the frontiers of knowledge, and inspires them to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of others. Ignite your future at

In Episode 16 of the Bulldog Dialogue, GWU President Dr. William Downs offers a deep dive into what’s ahead for the women’s basketball team in the NCAA Division I Basketball Championships. Guests are:
·      GWU Women’s Basketball Coach Alex Simmons.
·      Marc Rabb, Assistant Athletic Director for Media Relations.
·      Wes Cogdill, Executive Director of the Bulldog Club.
·      Micahla Funderburk, “6th Woman Award” recipient for Women’s Basketball, Junior, Guard, hometown Charlotte, N.C.

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