Hartford Hosts Syracuse In WNIT Bout
Hartford will host the Big East's Syracuse Friday night in the WNIT with the winner to face Drexel in the second round. The Hawks (19-12) are making their eighth straight postseason appearance, the longest such in America East women's basketball history.
Friday, March 16
Syracuse at Hartford (WNIT), 7 p.m.
Record Number of Postseason Berths
An America East record four teams will participate in postseason tournaments this season. This is the third time in four seasons in which at least three squads have advanced past the conference tournament and onto the national stage. This season, Albany will participate in the NCAA Tournament, Boston U. and Hartford will play in the Postseason WNIT, and New Hampshire will compete in the WBI. America East has had multiple teams in the postseason for eight straight seasons, tied with the Atlantic-10 for the longest such streak among non-BCS conferences.
Winning in the WNIT
The conference has been represented in the Postseason WNIT for eight straight seasons, with this year being the second time America East has sent two teams. Boston U. and Hartford both also competed in the tournament in 2009. America East teams are 6-13 (3.16) in the tournament with three of those wins coming since 2007. Hartford defeated Bucknell in 2007, Vermont beat Dartmouth in 2008 and Boston U. upended Central Connecticut State in 2009. All three of those games were on the America East team's home court, while America East teams have hosted WNIT games in five of the last six seasons including this season. The Catamounts advanced to the quarterfinals in 2002 when the tournament was comprised of just 32 teams. Vermont defeated Holy Cross in the first round and St. Joseph's in the second round before falling to Virginia Tech.
Eight Straight For The Hawks
Hartford has had quite a decade. Since winning the program's first America East Championship in 2002, the Hawks have made a trip to a postseason tournament in all but two seasons, including an active streak of eight straight seasons. The Hawks make their ninth overall postseason appearance Friday night when they host Syracuse in the first round of the WNIT at 7 p.m. Hartford is 1-2 all-time in the WNIT and 3-9 in postseason tournaments. Hartford owns a 19-12 record heading into the postseason and fell to No. 6 Binghamton as the three seed in the America East Championship quarterfinals at Chase Family Arena.
Rizzotti Rises To The Occasion
Hartford head coach Jennifer Rizzotti is in a league of her own among all-time America East head coaches. In her 13-year career, all with the Hawks, Rizzotti is America East's all-time leader in wins with 254. With exactly 400 games coached under her belt, the Hartford coach has a career winning percentage of .635 and has led the Hawks to all nine of their postseason appearances. Rizzotti has won more America East Championships than any other head coach in conference history, winning five titles with a 20-8 tournament record.
Hartford advanced to the 2011 Preseason WNIT semifinals back in November, joining BCS-Conference foes Baylor, Notre Dame and UCLA as the final four teams. The Hawks fell to the Fighting Irish in South Bend, however Hartford junior forward Ruthanne Doherty earned one of just six spots on the all-tournament team. Doherty averaged 15.5 points and 5.3 rebounds in the three games. Baylor defeated Notre Dame to win the Preseason WNIT Championship.
Several former America East Champions are still coaching at the collegiate level. Joanne Palombo-McCallie won four titles (1995, 1996, 1997, 1998) while at Maine and most recently led Duke to the 2012 ACC Regular Season Championship; Sharon Versyp, won the league title in 2004 at Maine before moving to Purdue. Minnesota's Pam Borton, who won a tournament title with Vermont in 1994, is also in the Big Ten now with Versyp. Former Vermont head coaches Cathy Inglese (1986-93) and Sharon Dawley (2003-10) each won two America East Championships and are now in the Atlantic-10 competing for a title, Inglese at Rhode Island and Dawley at Massachusetts.