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WVU coach Carey unhappy with placement

With the Pitt women not getting a bid to play in the NCAA Tournament, the closest thing to a home team at Petersen Events Center this weekend will be St. Francis (Pa.).

The bracket was announced Monday night, with four teams coming to Pittsburgh for the first two rounds: No. 2 Ohio State against No. 15 St. Francis (Pa.) at noon Sunday, and No. 7 Mississippi State takes on No. 10 Middle Tennessee at 2:30 p.m. The winners meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

One person who was unhappy about the placement was West Virginia coach Mike Carey.

The Mountaineers (28-5) got a No. 3 seed and are headed to Austin, Texas, to play Southland Conference champion and No. 7 seed Lamar (26-7). Beat them, and they'll play the winner of No. 6 Texas (22-10) and No. 11 San Diego State (21-10). Texas' campus is in Austin.

West Virginia was hoping to call the Pete home, if only for two games, but now it faces the possibility of a hostile environment making the road to the Sweet 16 even harder.

"I think Pittsburgh was a realistic option," Carey said. "We are a third seed and finished second in the Big East, and we have to go and play someone on their home floor. I don't see why that happened. But once again, we just have to get ready to play. It just shows you that we don't get the respect that we need to get."

The placements also have to hurt Robert Morris coach Sal Buscaglia, given that it was St. Francis (17-14) that beat the regular-season champion Colonials in the Northeast Conference semifinals and went on to earn the conference's automatic bid.

Now, St. Francis coach Susan Robinson Fruchtl, whose team is located in Loretto, is hoping to reap the benefits of having the host site within driving distance of the school.

The Red Flash are led by point guard Britney Hodges, who ranks 14th in the nation with 17.8 points. She'll go head-to-head with Ohio State All-American Samantha Prahalis, who averaged 18.5 points for the Big 10 Tournament champion Buckeyes (30-4).

"We're thrilled to be in, and even more thrilled to be close to home," Fruchtl said. "It's going to be an exciting atmosphere, because both teams travel well. I think the matchup between the two point guards will be great for the fans to watch. Both are extremely quick and can shoot the three, and both have led their teams to conference championships. Their size will be a challenge for us, but we're confident that we'll be prepared, and the fans will see an exciting game."

Mississippi State (19-12) finished third in the SEC standings and earned an at-large bid.

Middle Tennessee State (25-5), the Sun Belt Conference champions, feature Alysha Clark, who leads the country in scoring for the second straight year at 28.7 points per game.

All-session tickets at the Pete are $27 for adults and $17 for children. Single-game tickets are $16 for adults and $11 for children.

Pitt, Duquesne, Robert Morris and Penn State were all awaiting word last night on WNIT invitations, which were not expected to be announced until after press time.

Local flavor

Here's a look at the local players who will be involved in the NCAA Women's Tournament beginning on Saturday:

Name (High School) College

*Andrea Walker (West Allegheny) Ohio State

Erica Prosser (Oakland Catholic) Lehigh

Maureen Hester (Bethel Park) Xavier

Shalonda Winton (Westinghouse) Cleveland State

Markel Walker (Schenley) UCLA

*Janie Killen (Penn Hills) St. Francis (Pa.)

Taja Wilson (Penn Hills) Michigan State

*playing at Petersen Events Center, hosting first two rounds

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