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Pitt, WVU women expect NCAA invites

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop
| Tuesday, March 6, 2007

HARTFORD, Conn. - Despite losses in Sunday's Big East Tournament quarterfinals, Pitt women's basketball coach Agnus Berenato and West Virginia counterpart Mike Carey are counting on invitations to the NCAA Tournament.

ESPN.com women's basketball bracketologist Charlie Crème has Pitt (23-8) listed as a No. 7 seed and West Virginia (20-10) as a No. 10.

He also has Robert Morris (22-7) slotted as a No. 15 seed. Robert Morris has to win two more games in the Northeast Conference Tournament to receive an automatic bid.

The women's selection show is at 8 p.m. Monday on ESPN.

Berenato says she thinks her team is deserving of inclusion in the field.

"We have 23 wins, and we have a good RPI," Berenato said. "We finished sixth in the Big East, which I believe is the best conference in the country. We won our first-round game. So, we should be in."

Berenato reiterated what she has said all season -- that her goal is to be invited to the NCAA Tournament, especially since Pitt will play host to eight teams in the first and second rounds March 18 and 20 at Petersen Events Center.

"We want to be in the dance, and not just playing host," she said. "This team deserves to be in. This team has overcome so much adversity and continued to believe that we can do great things if we just keep working hard and working together."

In the preseason, Pitt lost starting point guard Mallorie Winn to a season-ending knee injury. Freshman center Selena Nwude has a knee injury that will be evaluated this week. And junior center Marcedes Walker has battled a foot injury for much of the season and practices sparingly.

Still, Pitt has won a school-record 23 games.

Carey's West Virginia squad also suffered a setback, losing senior guard and Oakland Catholic graduate Meg Bulger to a knee injury.

But the Mountaineers finished the season strong. They were the No. 4 seed in the conference tournament and earned a bye. And despite a loss to No. 5 Louisville (26-6) in the quarterfinals, the Mountaineers have won 12 of their past 15 games.

"If the fourth-place team in the Big East Conference doesn't get a bid, then they should outlaw the NCAA," Carey said. "I don't think this loss will hurt us. We will be OK. We just plan to go back home, take a few days off to get healthy again and get back to practice.

"We just didn't have it against Louisville. I am not worried about this team. They will get back to practicing hard in preparation (for the NCAA Tournament)."

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