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UGA, Tech and FSU in women's tourney

Photo by Scott Chancey

Photo by Scott Chancey

ATLANTA -- Before learning his Georgia team was headed to Tempe, Ariz., to face Tulane in the first round of the NCAA women's tournament, Andy Landers summoned his veteran players to deliver a reminder about last year's tournament.

Landers said Monday night he has kept a copy of the Athens Banner-Herald's coverage of Georgia's 2009 NCAA first-round loss to Arizona State on his desk all year. So he called in his veteran players to show them the printed reminder of the loss.

"I said 'That's not what we want,' " Landers said. "That just wasn't a good experience for any of us. They got it. They're all in agreement. They would shake their head yeah and say 'It's not going to be like that.' "

The 2009 first-round loss came in Duluth, about an hour from the Georgia campus in Athens.

This time Georgia will take a long trip west for its opening game in Tempe.

The Lady Bulldogs (23-8), the No. 5 seed in the Sacramento region, will face No. 12 seed Tulane (26-6) on Saturday.

"We really just want to be more focused for the game and come ready to play," said sophomore Meredith Mitchell. "We don't want to have that feeling again, especially for the first round."

Arizona State would have had the home-court advantage in Tempe but it did not make the NCAA field. Landers said that leaves an opening for other teams to take advantage of the neutral setting.

"I'm excited that we're playing basically on a neutral floor and I think it does open it up, very much so, compared to how it would be if Arizona State were there," he said.

FSU HOSTS LA TECH: Florida State will host Louisiana Tech when the NCAA women's tournament begins Saturday, a rematch of a first-round game that the Seminoles won four years ago.

The Seminoles (26-5) topped Louisiana Tech 80-71 at Denver in 2006. The Lady Techsters (23-8), one of the most storied programs in women's basketball with two NCAA championships and six trips to the championship game, won the WAC tournament this season.

"I think it's a great honor to play a program that is as storied as Louisiana Tech," Florida State coach Sue Semrau said. "We're going to have our work cut out for us."

Louisiana Tech is coached by Teresa Weatherspoon, the former WNBA star who led the Lady Techsters to their last NCAA title in 1988. This is the first time Louisiana Tech is back in the NCAAs since that loss to Florida State in 2006.

"All I care about is that our name was called because we worked for it to be called," Weatherspoon said. "We are now going to prepare ourselves to go in and do great things."

Saturday's other first-round game in Tallahassee, Fla. will pit St. John's (24-6) against first-time NCAA participant Princeton (26-2), which has won 21 straight -- the nation's third-longest current streak behind Connecticut (72) and Stanford (22).

The games are part of the Dayton Region, where UConn is the No. 1 seed.

Florida State is seeded third, St. John's sixth, Princeton 11th and Louisiana Tech 14th.

It's a bit ironic that Florida State drew the same bracket as UConn, the overall top seed in the 64-team field. The Seminoles gave the Huskies one of their tougher games this season, trailing by only eight points with 12 minutes remaining on Dec. 28 before falling 78-59.

"We've had that experience of playing them, so it's not like we're one of the teams that haven't and are wondering what it's going to be like," Semrau said. "They know exactly what it's going to be like. And I think they're really going to look just at the next team in front of us. They've done a great job of that all year."

The Seminoles got some good news Monday, when leading scorer and rebounder Jacinta Monroe returned to practice after recovering from a sprained right ankle in the ACC quarterfinal loss to Boston College.

Barring a setback, Monroe will play Saturday.

TECH TO OKLAHOMA: Georgia Tech has earned its fourth straight NCAA tournament bid and is headed to Norman, Okla., to face Arkansas-Little Rock on Sunday night.

Georgia Tech (23-9) is the No. 6 seed in the Kansas City regional and is matched against No. 11 seed Arkansas-Little Rock (26-6).

Georgia Tech had only two NCAA tournament appearances in its history before beginning its string of four straight berths with coach MaChelle Joseph.