Lady Lions in preseason NIT

UNIVERSITY PARK – The three-time defending Big Ten champion Penn State Lady Lions will open the 2014-15 season by participating in the Preseason WNIT.

The Lady Lions are among the 16 teams in the field, it was announced by Triple Crown Sports. The full bracket, game times and dates will be announced in June.

The field features Albany, Arkansas State, Central Arkansas, Colorado, Eastern Kentucky, Jackson State, Mercer, Mississippi State, North Dakota, Penn State, Rider, Seton Hall, St. Francis Brooklyn, Towson, West Virginia and Western Kentucky. Nine of the 16 teams are coming off postseason appearances, including five teams in the NCAA Tournament and four in the WNIT.

The Preseason WNIT is formatted to give all teams a three-game guarantee. The event opens Nov. 14-15 with Round One. Round Two will be played Nov. 16-17; semifinals will be Nov. 19-20; and the championship is set for Sunday, Nov. 23 at 3 p.m. ET.

The championship game will be nationally televised live in HD on CBS Sports Network. Teams that lose in the first two rounds will play consolation games on Nov. 21-22. All games are hosted by participating schools.

This will be Penn State’s second appearance in the Preseason WNIT. The Lady Lions finished second in the 2002 Preseason WNIT with wins over Bucknell, Siena and Mississippi State before falling at Kansas State in the title game. Kelly Mazzante scored 112 points in the four-game tournament, which is still the Preseason WNIT record.

The Lady Lions claimed their third-straight Big Ten regular-season title with a 24-8 overall record and 13-3 mark in conference play. It is the first time in school history that the Lady Lions won three consecutive regular-season crowns (Big Ten or Atlantic 10). Penn State has made four consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances and reached the Sweet 16 last year after wins over Wichita State and Florida.

After the graduation of a very accomplished senior class, senior forward Tori Waldner is the top returnee for Penn State. She started every game as a junior and averaged 4.8 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. She also rejected 39 shots a year ago to bring her career total to 89, which is tied for 11th on PSU’s career list.

Also returning for the Lady Lions are sophomores Kaliyah Mitchell and Peyton Whitted. Mitchell is the second-leading returning scoring at 4.5 points per game to go along with 4.4 rebounds per outing. Whitted accounted for 3.6 points and 3.3 rebounds with a .522 field goal percentage in conference play. Overall, she was second on the team in field goal percentage with a .463 mark.

Three Lions honored by AMCC

PITTSBURGH – On Wednesday, the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference announced its 2014 All-Sportsmanship Team for its three spring sports, and it included a Penn State Altoona student-athlete in each of those.

The three Penn State Altoona spring sport student-athletes named to the latest edition of the AMCC All-Sportsmanship team are Altoona graduate Chris Reighard in men’s tennis, Jeff Deveney in baseball and Brittany Smith in softball.

Long known for its “Be Loud, Be Proud, Be Positive” campaign to encourage fans to create a spirited but respectful game atmosphere, the AMCC also recognizes student-athletes who represent the best in competitive character.

To honor this important core value of the conference, AMCC student-athletes in baseball, softball, and men’s tennis recently voted for one of their teammates who they deemed to best exemplify the characteristics of good sportsmanship. The All-Sportsmanship Team is comprised of the winners of these team-by-team votes.

AMCC All-Sportsmanship squads were also picked for the fall and winter seasons, totaling 91 student-athletes in 12 fall and winter sports.

The student-athletes named to the All-Conference Sportsmanship Team must consistently demonstrate a high level of ethical conduct, respect, and fair play in both practice and competition, whether on the sidelines or as an active competitor. Such sportsmanship shall be evident toward teammates, coaches, opponents, officials and fans. He/She must also serve as a positive representative of school spirit when a spectator at other teams’ sporting events.

Pitt, Fla. International set for noon

PITTSBURGH – Conference USA announced Thursday that the Pitt Panthers Sept. 13 football game at Florida International will kick off at noon.

The game, Pitt’s third of the season at that point, will be televised live on Fox Sports 1. At this date, the Panthers’ other two games scheduled for television includes at Boston College on Sept. 5 (ESPN) and at home with Virginia Tech on Oct. 16 (ESPN).