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FORT MYERS, Fla. - The Florida Gulf Coast women’s basketball team will open its 2009-10 campaign by hosting UTEP in an opening-round game of the 2009 Preseason WNIT at 7:05 p.m. Friday.
The prestigious preseason tournament features 16 teams-11 of which played in the postseason last year- and all eight first-round games will be contested on Friday. The format for the event guarantees each squad three tilts. Second-round contests will be played Nov. 15-16; semifinals will be Nov. 18-19; and the championship is set for Sunday, Nov. 22.
Teams that lose in the first two rounds will play consolation games on the second weekend, Nov. 20-22. All contests are hosted by participating schools.
The winner between UTEP and FGCU will take on the victor of New Mexico and Northern Colorado at a site to be determined.
This season, FGCU returns all five starters including all-conference selections Adrianne McNally (Howell, Mich.) and Chelsea Lyles (Colorado Springs, Col.). The Eagles are coming off their second consecutive Postseason WNIT appearance and reached the 20-win plateau for the fifth straight year. Under the direction of head coach Karl Smesko, FGCU won the 2008-09 Atlantic Sun Regular Season Championship and ranked second in the conference last season in home attendance.
The Miners, who return four starters and seven letterwinners from last year’s team which posted the school-record third straight winning season, tuned up for Friday’s tilt by defeating St. Mary’s, 57-44, in their lone exhibition contest on Nov. 7. Senior Jareica Hughes paced the squad with 11 points while also contributing seven assists and six steals. Freshman Kristine Vitola registered eight points, six boards and a team-high five blocks. Dietra Caldwell, the 2009 Conference USA Freshman of the Year, chipped in eight points and junior transfer Ashley Milian picked up six boards while adding five points.
2009 Preseason WNIT - First-Round Games
(2008-09 team records in parentheses)
Friday, Nov. 13, 2009
Eastern Illinois (24-9) at Ohio State (29-6), 5 p.m. ET
Towson (17-13) at West Virginia (18-15), 6 p.m. ET
UTEP (18-12) at Florida Gulf Coast (26-5), 7 p.m. ET
Arkansas-Little Rock (26-7) at Oklahoma State (17-16), 7 p.m. ET
Winthrop (16-16) at Georgia Tech (22-10), 7:30 p.m. ET
Chicago State (16-13) at Bowling Green (29-5), 7:30 p.m. ET
North Carolina A&T (26-7) at Marist (29-4), 7:30 p.m. ET
Northern Colorado (12-18) at New Mexico (25-11), 9 p.m. ET
The WNIT is produced by Triple Crown Sports. For more information, visit the tournament's website at www.womensnit.com.