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March 15, 2007

Columbia, S.C. – The South Carolina women’s basketball team is set to host Hartford at 5 p.m. Sunday at the Colonial Center in second-round play of the Women’s NIT. Regular-season champions of the America East Conference, the Hawks (25-8 overall) claimed a 70-54 win over Bucknell Thursday night to set up Sunday’s game against the Gamecocks (17-14 overall), who enjoyed a first-round bye. Tickets are $8 for adults and $4 for youths. The South Carolina players and coaching staff will give a half-hour clinic to middle schoolers and high schoolers on the Colonial Center floor after the game.

Though the two teams have never faced one another and Sunday’s game will mark the first meeting this season between a team from the America East Conference and a team from the Southeastern Conference, there is one intriguing bit of familiarity between the two teams. Hartford Head Coach Jennifer Rizzotti and South Carolina assistant Michelle Marciniak faced one another multiple times during their playing days, with Rizzotti and her Connecticut team defeating Marciniak and her Tennessee squad in the 1995 National Championship game. Marciniak and company returned the favor by bumping Rizzotti and the Huskies out of the 1996 Final Four in the semifinal round en route to claiming a National Championship of their own. Both players were tremendous talents, as Rizzotti won the Naismith Award during her career in addition to being a Kodak All-American, with Marciniak earning Most Valuable Player honors at the 1996 Final Four in leading the Lady Vols to the NCAA crown.

The Gamecocks have only two previous meetings against America East Conference opponents in their history, claiming a win over New Hampshire in 1997 and a win over Maine in 1991.