Women's Basketball Opens 2012-13 Season with Preseason WNIT

Nov. 8, 2012

Game 1 | illinois state vs. Morehead State
Date: Friday, Nov. 9 at 7:05 p.m.
Location: Bloomington, Ill. | Shirk Center on Illinois Wesleyan's campus
Live Stats: GoRedbirds.com
Twitter: @ISUwbb

NORMAL, Ill. -The Illinois State women's basketball team will open the 2012-13 regular season Friday night, as it hosts Morehead State in a first-round game of the Preseason WNIT at 7:05 p.m., in the Shirk Center on Illinois Wesleyan's campus.

The Preseason WNIT is an annual invitation-only tournament involving 16 of the nation's top women's Division I basketball teams. A team may participate only once in a four year period. Additionally, only one institution per conference may play in the tournament in the same year. Teams are selected for the Preseason WNIT based on their program's expected success for that season, their relevant past, their conference standings, fan base and geographical location. Eleven of the 16 teams competing in the 2012 Preseason WNIT Tournament are coming off of postseason berths.

It will be the first meeting in program history between Illinois State and Morehead State. Despite it being the first meeting between the two teams, the Redbirds have experience against the Ohio Valley Conference, as ISU has played against seven OVC schools, including in-state rivals Eastern Illinois and Southern Illinois-Edwardsville.

• Morehead State is located in Morehead, Ky., and has an enrollment of 10,654.
• The Eagles are members of the Ohio Valley Conference.
• The Eagles finished 10-19 last season with a conference record of 7-9, finishing tied for sixth place in the OVC
• Morehead State was upset by Kentucky State, 64-61, in its exhibition game on Nov. 3.

Illinois State is 20-21 all-time in season-opening games. Over the last nine seasons, Illinois State is 6-3 in season-openers, winning its last three-straight. The Redbirds open the 2012-13 season with the 2012 Preseason WNIT on November 9th, and ISU looks to win its fourth-straight season opener. The last time the women's basketball program won four-straight season opening games was 1981-1985, under the leadership of Hall of Fame head coach Jill Hutchison.

Illinois State faced Division II Wisconsin-Parkside for the first time in program history in an exhibition game on Nov. 1 and never trailed in the contest, as the ISU women's basketball team beat the Rangers, 76-40, at Redbird Arena. ISU held UW-Parkside to only 17 points in the second half, as the Redbirds netted 43 points in the half. The Rangers shot 29 percent from the field, while the `Birds made 48 percent of their shot attempts. Senior Jamie Russell led all scorers with 20 points on 7-for-12 shooting, including a 6-for-7 mark at the free throw line. Russell also grabbed three steals, six rebounds and dished out five assists. In action as a Redbird for the first time, Janae Smith scored 19 points and brought down eight rebounds in a team-high 30 minutes.

Illinois State senior guard Jamie Russell was added to the 2013 Final Four Watch List, as announced by Overseas Basketball Combines. The watch list is made up of seniors eligible for the WNBA draft at the end of the 2012-13 season. Thirty finalists will have the opportunity to attend the Third-Annual Women's Final Four Combine in New Orleans, April 4-6, to showcase their talents. During the combine, finalists will participate in three scouted games, individual filmed workouts and evaluations of skills. A final roster of finalists will be sent out in February.

The Illinois State women's basketball team was picked to finish in the top-five for the sixth time in the last seven seasons, as the Redbirds were projected to finish third in the Missouri Valley Conference Preseason Poll for the 2012-13 season, as voted on by the league's head coaches, sports information directors and media. Illinois State received 323 votes in the poll, including two first-place votes. ISU has been picked in the top-five in 19 of the 30 preseason polls in conference history. The Redbirds have been picked to finish third eight times in program history. The last time the team was picked to finish third was prior to the 2004-05 season, when the Redbirds finished eighth with a 7-11 conference record.

Senior guard Jamie Russell was named to the Missouri Valley Conference Preseason All-Conferece team, as voted on by league head coaches, sports information directors and media. Russell is one of five on the preseason all-conference team. She returns for the 2012-13 season as ISU's top returner in seven categories, including points (13.1), field goals (157), steals (82) and assists (109).

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