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Lady Flames to Host Preseason WNIT Game
Liberty will open its 2008-09 women's basketball season by hosting in-state rival VCU in a first-round Preseason Women's National Invitation Tournament (WNIT) clash, it was announced today. The contest is set for Nov. 14 at 7 p.m., at the Vines Center.
Head coach Carey Green's Lady Flames, who went 28-4 last season and won their 11th Big South Conference title in the last 12 years, will be making their second Preseason WNIT appearance. Liberty also played in the 2003 tournament, dropping a first-round tilt at Cincinnati.
The matchup between the Lady Flames and Rams will be one of eight opening-round games played on the weekend of Nov. 14-15. The 16 Preseason WNIT teams include 12 squads which participated in postseason play a season ago, a list which features Liberty, Arizona State, Cleveland State, Illinois State, Indiana, Middle Tennessee State, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Robert Morris, VCU, Western Carolina, and Xavier.
Every team is guaranteed at least three Preseason WNIT games. The first-round winners will advance to the quarterfinals, to be played between Nov. 16-19. The victor of the Liberty-VCU tilt will be matched up with either North Carolina or Western Carolina.
North Carolina is one of three 2007-08 foes on Liberty's side of the bracket. Ball State and Xavier are also located in the Lady Flames' half of the draw. The Preseason WNIT championship game is slated for Nov. 23, at the home court of one of the participating teams.
The losing teams from the first-round matchups will be divided into a pair of four-team consolation brackets. The consolation games are scheduled for Nov. 21-23.
Liberty's 13-game home winning streak will be put to the test against VCU, which returns four starters from head coach Beth Cunningham's 2007-08 unit. The Rams set a school record with 26 victories a season ago, made their first appearance in the CAA championship game and reached the second round of the Postseason WNIT.
VCU has been the Lady Flames' most common non-conference opponent in program history, as the Nov. 14 game will be the teams' 31st all-time contest. The Rams own a 21-9 advantage in the head-to-head series, which dates back to 1976. However, Liberty has prevailed in each of the last three meetings and four of the last five contests. The squads' most recent matchup came on Nov. 25, 2003 at the Vines Center and saw Liberty claim a 62-43 decision.
The Lady Flames' entire 2008-09 season schedule will be released upon its completion.
First-round Preseason WNIT games
All 2007-2008 team records in parentheses
Friday, Nov. 14, 2008
Robert Morris (23-10) at Xavier (24-9), 3 p.m. ET
Western Carolina (25-9) at North Carolina (33-3), 7 p.m. ET
VCU (26-8) at Liberty (28-4), 7 p.m. ET
Ball State (15-15) at Indiana (18-15), 7 p.m. ET
Illinois State (26-7) at Tulane (16-14), 8 p.m. ET
Cleveland State (19-14) at Arizona State (22-11), 8 p.m. ET
Saturday, Nov. 15, 2008
UC Riverside (14-16) at Oklahoma (22-9), 3 p.m. ET
Lafayette (14-16) at Middle Tennessee State (22-12), 8 p.m. ET