Louisiana Tech’s incredible late season run wasn’t for naught as the Lady Techsters earned a bid to the 2009 Women’s National Invitation Tournament and will host Conference USA foe SMU Thursday, 7 p.m. (CST) at the Thomas Assembly Center.

Tickets for Louisiana Tech’s first-round WNIT will go on sale Tuesday morning at 10 a.m.

LA Tech’s appearance in the postseason WNIT will be the program’s first, and interim head coach Teresa Weatherspoon said she was excited about the opportunity for her young team.

“It’s huge for us,” Weatherspoon said. “The experience is what we really need. Just having the opportunity to play more games will be so beneficial. We made a tremendous run down the stretch and it simply isn’t time to stop playing.

“We are excited to be a part of this tournament and join all of these other very deserving teams from around the country. We feel like we can compete with anyone. I know our young ladies are so excited to get back out on the court.”

SMU (20-11, 12-4 CUSA) was the Conference USA regular season champion; however, the Mustangs lost in the semifinal round of the CUSA Tournament, falling 62-51 to eventual tournament champion UCF.

Tech and SMU were both members of the WAC from 2001-02 through 2005 when SMU joined CUSA. Tech leads the all-time series against SMU 17-0, including a 9-0 mark in Ruston.

“What a great chance for our fans to come out and support your young ladies,” Weatherspoon said. “I hope we are able to pack the arena. We need the support of all of our fans and our student body.”

LA Tech (20-12) earned the automatic bid out of the Western Athletic Conference by virtue of finishing as co-Western Athletic Conference regular season champions. Although the Lady Techsters fell to Nevada 91-88 in overtime in the semifinals of the 2009 WAC Tournament last week, they earned the spot in the postseason event after top-seed Fresno State captured the WAC
Tournament title and advanced to the NCAA Tournament.

The winner of the contest between Louisiana Tech and SMU will go on the road to face Illinois State in the second round. The Redbirds were the regular season champion out of the Missouri Valley Conference but lost to Evansville in the league tournament.

Tech has appeared twice in the preseason WNIT with the Lady Techsters capturing the title in 1997 and 2001.

This marks the 29th national postseason appearance for LA Tech, including three AIAW Tournament and 25 NCAA Tournament appearances. It’s the first postseason appearance since participating in the 2006 NCAA Tournament.

Ticket prices will be $12 for reserved seats in the lower arena, $10 for general admission in the upper arena and $5 for children and Louisiana Tech students with a valid I.D.

LA Tech season ticket holders have through Tuesday to reserve their same seats while all orders for any tickets will be taken starting Tuesday and put into a pool and allocated starting Wednesday.

All ticket orders can be picked up at the will call windows of the Thomas Assembly Center starting 90 minutes prior to tip-off on game day.

For more information, log onto www.latechsports.com or call the Tech Ticket Office at 318-257-3632 or email at techtickets@latech.edu.

Written by Dave Guerin