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March 16, 2010
GREENSBORO, N.C. - Maryland, Miami and Wake Forest received bids Monday evening to participate in the 2010 Women's National Invitation Tournament, extending the number of Atlantic Coast Conference postseason teams to nine. For the eighth straight year, the ACC will be represented by at least six teams in the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament Field of 64, while the addition of three programs to the WNIT gives the league nine postseason teams for the fifth time overall, first since 2006 and third time in the last seven years.
Maryland will make its 24th postseason appearance and will play host to Iona of the Metro Atlantic Conference Friday, March 19 in first round action at the Comcast Center. The appearance marks the Terrapins' second all-time appearance in the WNIT. Maryland owns a 2-1 record in this particular postseason event, after advancing to the quarterfinals in 2000 under former head coach and 2010 Women's Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Chris Weller. The Terrapins defeated Georgetown 63-46 in the first round of play and went on to an overtime win against ACC foe Virginia Tech, 68-60, to advance to the quarters. Maryland's lone loss in the WNIT came against eventual tournament runner-up Florida, 57-77.
Terrapin head coach Brenda Frese led her young team, made up of nine freshmen and sophomores and one senior, to a 19-12 overall record, including a 5-9 mark in ACC play this season. Maryland faced seven NCAA-bound teams, which included an upset win over Virginia on the road, and a first round ACC Tournament victory over North Carolina. The squad also took a veteran, top-10 Duke squad down to the wire multiple times, dropping games by just one and two points.
The Hurricanes will make their first postseason appearance since 2006 and their 11th postseason and fifth WNIT appearance in program history. In Miami's last postseason appearance, the `Canes advanced to the second round of the WNIT after defeating FIU, 95-83, at the BankUnited Center. Miami will host in-state foe Florida Gulf Coast in the opening round of this year's WNIT Thursday, March 18 at the BankUnited Center. With a win, the `Canes would advance to the second round to take on the winner of the Florida and USF match-up.
Miami finished the regular season in a three-way tie for 10th place in the ACC with a 4-12 conference mark. The `Canes are led by sophomores Shenise Johnson and Riquna Williams. Johnson became just the second player in program history to be named first team All-ACC, while Williams earned second team All-ACC accolades.
Also receiving a WNIT bid for 2010 is Wake Forest, which finished the season 18-13 overall, earning the No. 5 seed in the ACC Women's Basketball Tournament, and enters the postseason event having won seven of its last 12 games, five of those wins to top 100 RPI teams. The Demon Deacons will open the 2010 WNIT hosting North Carolina A&T on Thursday, March 18 in Reynolds Gymnasium. The winner will advance to face either Charlotte or Gardner-Webb at a location that will be announced following the first round conclusion.
The invitation marks the second consecutive WNIT appearance for the Demon Deacons. Last season Wake Forest received a first round bye and faced Georgetown in the second round in Winston-Salem, where the Deacs fell 72-61. Wake Forest is led by sophomore guard Secily Ray and junior guard Brittany Waters. Ray posted seven double-doubles this season en route to All-ACC third-team recognition, while Waters was tabbed All-ACC Honorable Mention.
This is the first year of the expanded postseason WNIT as the 2010 field includes 31 teams that earned automatic berths and 33 teams that earned at-large berths. The 2010 WNIT kicks off postseason action Wednesday, March 17 with first-round games. All games will be held on the campuses of participating schools, while the championship game will be played Saturday, April 3, and will be hosted by one of the two final participating schools.
The WNIT awards an automatic qualifying berth to each of the nation's 31 conferences. The spot goes to the team that finishes the highest in the regular-season conference standings that does not advance to the NCAA Tournament. If there is a tie, the WNIT abides by the conference tiebreaker. A team earns the automatic qualifying berth regardless of its overall record. However, to be considered for a WNIT at-large berth, a team must have an overall record of .500 or better.