MACOMB, Ill. - The Western Illinois women's basketball team will play 14 games at Western Hall, and travel to Iowa State and Missouri, highlighting the 2012-13 schedule. Second-year head coach JD Gravina announced the schedule on Wednesday (Sept. 12).
Seven of the 2012-13 opponents advanced to postseason play last year, including NCAA Tournament participants ISU and South Dakota State. Three teams (Eastern Illinois, South Dakota and Kansas City) played in the WNIT while SIU-Edwardsville and Bradley played in the Women's Basketball Invitational. Ten of the Leathernecks' 29 regular season games will be against teams that competed in the 2012 postseason.
Three starters and eight letterwinners return for Western this season. In Gravina's first year the program improved by four wins from 2010-11 and advanced to the Summit League Tournament semifinals by beating former league-member Oral Roberts.
Western will play two exhibition games at home, first versus Monmouth on November 2nd then against MacMurray College on the 7th. The Fighting Leathernecks open the season at Big 12 Conference member Iowa State on Sunday, November 11.
The home schedule starts against Clarke University two nights later, then Western travels to new Southeastern Conference member Missouri on the 15th. Gravina and the Leathernecks travel to SIU-Edwardsville on November 19th and Saint Louis on Saturday the 24th before returning home to play host to Valparaiso on Tuesday, November 27, to close out the month.
Williams Woods travels to Western Hall on Saturday, December 1st. The Leathernecks play at Loyola (Dec. 5) and Southeast Missouri (Dec. 8) prior to Finals Week. Western faces in-state rivals Eastern Illinois (Dec. 17) and Bradley (Dec. 21) at home prior to Christmas Break.
Summit League play begins on the road with three consecutive games: Oakland (Dec. 28), Fort Wayne (Dec. 30) and IUPUI (Jan. 5). Western plays the first of a home-and-home series with Chicago State at Western Hall on January 8th then on the road three weeks later.
Omaha plays in Western Hall on January 12th, then the Leathernecks travel to South Dakota State (Jan. 17) and North Dakota State (Jan. 19). Following that road trip, Western plays five of the next seven at home: South Dakota (Jan. 24), Kansas City (Jan. 26), IUPUI (Feb. 2), NDSU (Feb. 14) and SDSU (Feb. 16).
The Leathernecks make the return trip to Kansas City (Feb. 21) and USD (Feb. 23) before closing out the regular season at home against Fort Wayne (Feb. 28) and Oakland (March 2). The top eight teams advance to the Summit League Tournament in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the following week.
"Our coaching staff was able to put together a schedule that gives us the opportunity to compete with many of the NCAA Division I programs in our region. We hope as our program continues to grow, we can establish ourselves as an elite program in the Midwest. Opening up at Iowa State will be a great experience for our players. They will get the chance to play in front of 10,000 fans against a national powerhouse team," said Gravina. "I think one of the biggest positives about our schedule is now playing our Summit League games on Thursdays and Saturdays. This will benefit our players by allowing us to take Sundays off so they can regroup and prepare for class on Monday."#WIUAthletics