DeLand, Fla. - The Stetson women's basketball team (23-10) will continue its record-setting season by making its first appearance in program history in the Women's National Invitational Tournament (WNIT) Thursday, March 15 at Florida International University.
The Hatters earned the Atlantic Sun Conference's automatic WNIT spot after winning a school record 23 games and finishing second in conference play with a 12-6 league record. Stetson will play FIU in the first round at U.S. Century Bank Arena; should the Hatters win, they would advance to play the winner of the Florida Atlantic at USF contest in either Boca Raton or Tampa, Florida. That game would be played either March 17, 18 or 19.
STETSON SERIES RESULTS
Stetson is 4-28 all-time against FIU, a member of the Sun Belt Conference and a former powerhouse in the Trans-America Athletic Conference, which became the Atlantic Sun Conference in 2001. The Hatters have not faced the Golden Panthers since their last TAAC meeting January 31, 1998 in Miami, a 72-51 victory for then 19th-ranked FIU; their last win in the series was January 15, 1990 by a 64-60 margin at the Edmunds Center.
This game will showcase a battle between conference MVPs as Stetson features junior guard Victoria McGowan (Inkster, Mich.), the A-Sun Player of the Year on the strength of her national-best three triple-doubles, while FIU (22-10, 10-6 SBC) claims Sun Belt Player of the Year Jerica Coley, a sophomore guard averaging 23.7 points per game and the nation's seventh-leading scorer. In the final regular season NCAA RPI rankings released Monday, Stetson came in at 124, nine spots above FIU.
STETSON VS. WNIT FIELD
The Hatters hold a 2-1 record this season against the 2012 WNIT field, owning home wins at the Edmunds Center over Miami (Ohio) and Florida Atlantic with a road loss to USF. Stetson beat the RedHawks 71-62 on November 25 and defeated the Owls 52-37 on December 21 in the Hatter Classic; the Hatters dropped a 77-62 decision to the Bulls on November 28 in Tampa, Fla.
THE 2012 WNIT
The WNIT is a 64-team single elimination bracket featuring 31 automatic bids going to to the highest team in each conference's standings that did not receive a bid to the NCAA Tournament (including Stetson, Florida Atlantic and USF) and 33 at-large selections (including FIU). Four extra at-large bids were awarded when automatic selections Auburn, North Carolina, Minnesota and USC declined their invitations. All 63 games in the 2012 WNIT will be played on campus sites. One semifinal (March 28) and the championship game (March 31) will be nationally televised on CBS Sports Network.
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