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George Mason Selected to Play in Preseason WNIT

Release: 05/11/2017
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Courtesy: Associated Press
FAIRFAX, Va. – George Mason has been selected to participate in one of the premier women's college basketball tournaments.

The Patriots will open the 2017-18 season competing in the 24th annual Preseason WNIT. Mason was one of 16 teams invited to participate in the tournament, which will begin in November and guarantees at least three games for all teams in the field. First-round matchups and the bracket will be announced later in the summer.

This marks the third time Mason has been chosen for the Preseason WNIT and first since the 2001-02 season. The 2017 field includes eight teams who made the postseason last year and five who played in the NCAA Tournament.

"It is a great honor for our team to be selected to play in the Preseason WNIT," George Mason head coach Nyla Milleson said. "Our selection is a reflection of the growth our program has made over the last couple of years and the quality of young student-athletes that we have recruited. The experience of playing in this tournament will give us great preparation and confidence to compete in the always tough Atlantic 10 Conference. We will work diligently over the next several months in anticipation of representing the A-10 in the Preseason WNIT."

Oregon (Pac-12), which made the Elite Eight last season, highlights the field, along with 2017 NCAA participants Louisville (ACC), Texas A&M (SEC), Drake (Missouri Valley) and Penn (Ivy League). 2017 WNIT champ Michigan (Big Ten) also makes its second appearance. The rest of the tournament includes: CSU Northridge (Big West), Houston (American Athletic), Liberty (Big South), Louisiana (Sun Belt), Milwaukee (Horizon); New Orleans (Southland), Old Dominion (Conference USA), Saint Francis (Pa.) (Northeast), Southeast Missouri State (Ohio Valley) and Toledo (Mid-American).

"The Preseason WNIT is a great mix of tried-and-true teams with up-and-coming teams, all eager to start their season in the national spotlight," said Renee Carlson, Executive Director of the WNIT. "We are excited to help showcase what each of them can do."

Mason is 1-3 all-time in the Preseason WNIT, having played in the tournament in 1996 and 2001. The Patriots went 13-17 last season, including a 6-10 mark in Atlantic 10 Conference play. Guard Jacy Bolton returns as the team's top scorer and rebounder after averaging 8.3 points and 4.7 rebounds and earning A-10 All-Rookie Team honors as a freshman.

The Patriots also add Connecticut graduate transfer Natalie Butler, a 6-foot-5 center from nearby Fairfax Station, Va. Butler played in 62 games over the last two years at UConn, averaging 5.6 points and 4.6 rebounds. She was also named the 2013-14 Big East Freshman of the Year when she played her freshman year at Georgetown, averaging 13.9 points and 13.3 rebounds in 32 games.
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