It was a big year for women’s sports at the University of Denver, with three all-female squads — women’s basketball, gymnastics and women’s lacrosse — making program history in the postseason.
In March, the Pioneers women’s basketball team won the first postseason game in its Division I history, defeating the University of New Mexico in the first round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament. The team lost to the University of Idaho in the second round, finishing the 2018–19 season 18-14 overall.
The team received an automatic bid to the WNIT for the second time in school history after finishing 17-13 overall and 10-6 in the Summit League. The Pioneers entered the tournament coming off one of their strongest seasons in recent history, recording at least 17 wins for the first time since the 2011–12 season.
It was even better news for the gymnastics team, which in April advanced to its first-ever NCAA Team Final and recorded its highest-ever finish at the NCAA Championships.
Aided by the performance of sophomore Lynnzee Brown, who won a national title in the floor routine during the semifinal round, the Pioneers finished second in the semifinals and advanced to the debut “Four on the Floor” team championship round, where DU took fourth place.
The finish resulted in a final season ranking of No. 4 in the nation, shattering the Pioneer’s previous record of ninth place in 2017.
“They showed that they deserved to be on that stage tonight and held their own in the first Four on the Floor,” head coach Melissa Kutcher-Rinehart said at the end of the competition. “It took a tremendous amount of mental toughness to do what they just did. They were locked in and showed determination from start to finish. It was a complete performance, and they represented the University of Denver with pride.”
In addition to her national title, Brown picked up four postseason All-American honors including first team in the all-around and on floor, and second team on bars and beam. She was one of five DU gymnasts to earn All-American nods during the championships.
Finally, on the lacrosse field, a victory over the Michigan Wolverines in the second round of the NCAA Tournament propelled the Pioneers to the program’s first-ever NCAA Elite Eight appearance. The Pios lost to Maryland in the quarterfinals, wrapping up the season with a 16-4 record, and the team earned five All-American honors, the highest amount in program history,
“This is a very special moment for our team,” said head coach Liza Kelly before the Elite Eight match. “To be able to advance to the quarterfinals, with this group of girls, is such an unbelievable experience. They have worked so hard all season long, and I’m excited to see what comes next in our journey.”