Golden Eagles to face East Tennessee in WNIT opener

Golden Eagles to face East Tennessee in WNIT opener

View the 2011 Preseason WNIT Bracket (PDF)

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee Tech's first contest in the 2011 Preseason Women's National Invitation Tournament (WNIT) will be Friday, Nov. 11, when coach Sytia Messer's Golden Eagles play at East Tennessee State.

The game at ETSU is set for 6 p.m. CT and the winner will move on to face the winner of the UCLA/McNeese State game on Sunday, November 13. The loser will move on to a consolation bracket and play two more games the following weekend.

"We're excited to have the opportunity to participate in this tournament, and playing East Tennessee State in our first game will be a great way to get the season started," Messer said. "ETSU is a very good basketball team, and it will be a great test for our team right out of the starting gate. We will certainly need to be ready to play."  

The Golden Eagles own a 19-3 all-time lead over East Tennessee in a series that dates all the way back to 1970. Tech was up 17-1 in the series, and the two teams have split the last four meetings, including an 81-77 win by the Lady Bucs in 2004-05 in the last contest between the two squads. The last time Tech and ETSU tangled in Johnson City, Tech grabbed a 73-71 victory in 2003-04.

Tech posted a 23-8 record a year ago, including an 11-4 record in road games. The Golden Eagles won the Ohio Valley Conference regular season championship with a 15-3 mark, and return all five starters including first-team all-OVC guard Tacarra Hayes, the team leader in scoring, rebounds, assists and steals. Also back are 31-game starters Brittany Darling, Rachel Glidden and Kylie Cook. Also back is Kellie Cook, who started 17 games once she returned to action following an early injury. 

The Lady Bucs are coming off a program-best sixth consecutive winning season (19-12). ETSU returns nine letterwinners from last season’s club, including All-Atlantic Sun selection Destiny Mitchell, who led the team in rebounding (9.0) and was second in scoring (14.5) as a freshman. Joining Mitchell are seniors Natalie Pickwell and Gwen Washington, along with red-shirt senior Tarita Gordon.

UT Chattanooga will host UAB and Howard visits Baylor to round out the left half of the 16-team bracket. On the other side Notre Dame will host Akron, Indiana State will host Detroit, Manhattan will travel to Harford and Drexel will play host to Long Island.

Baylor, UCLA and Notre Dame all finished in the Top 10 last season.

The Preseason WNIT features a three-game guarantee format. The event opens Nov. 11 with first-round games. Second-round games will be played Nov. 13-14, the semifinals will be Nov. 16-17 and the championship is set for Nov. 20. Teams that lose in the first two rounds will play consolation games on the second weekend, Nov. 18-19. All games are hosted by participating schools.

The eight Round One winners will continue on in traditional bracket play, with half of them hosting the other half in separate host sites. The winning teams will continue on, with separate host sites throughout the semifinals and championship. The two teams in the championship game will play four games in the tournament.

The eight teams that lose their first games will be re-grouped into consolation bracket quads, which are two four-team pools. One team in each pool will be selected to host the other three teams. The host site will be announced after the completion of all Round One games. Each team in this consolation round will play two games for a total of three in the tournament. These are called Consolation Rounds 1 and 2.

Of the four quarterfinal teams that lose in that round, two teams will be selected to host one of the other quarterfinal round losers in a single game at separate sites. This game provides the third game for each of these schools. This round is Consolation Round 3.