MACOMB, Ill. – Head coach JD Gravina announced the release of the 2017-18 women’s basketball schedule, which includes a total of 14 non-league games and 14 games against Summit League opponents as Western Illinois looks to defend its League regular season and Tournament titles.
“The scheduling process this season was extremely difficult due to some unique challenges,” said Gravina. “The changing Summit League landscape, coupled with our success last season, caused some versatility in the teams we normally play. However, it also provided opportunities to play some new and high level programs.”
The defending Summit League Champions play a total of 14 home contests, beginning with an exhibition game against Quincy on Nov. 2. The season opener is against Kansas City (Nov. 10) in Western Hall at 7 p.m., where Gravina will look for his 100th career win at Western.
That game precedes a pair of home contests against Illinois College (Nov. 12) and William Woods (Nov. 14) before a three-game road slate: at Northern Illinois (Nov. 18), Big 10 Conference opponent Illinois (Nov. 21) and Chicago State (Nov. 22).
The Leathernecks then play two straight home games – Milwaukee (Nov. 26) and Chicago State (Nov. 29) to wrap-up the home-and-home series with the Cougars, before opening the month of December with a road game at Wichita State (Dec. 1).
The final non-league home matchup features Southeast Missouri State on Dec. 5, followed by five straight road games, including three against first-time opponents. Western opens the road trip in Clarksville, Tenn. to face off for the first time against Austin Peay (Dec. 9). Western follows with a pair of first-time meetings against two of the premier programs on the West coast. The Leathernecks travel to NCAA Final Four qualifier Stanford (Dec. 18) and follow with a game at Gonzaga (Dec. 21), which defeated the Cardinal last year and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. A matchup against in-state rival Bradley in Peoria, Ill. closes out the non-league season on Dec. 28.
“We continued to focus on building our non-conference schedule with as many regional games as possible,” said Gravina. “That section of the schedule is highlighted by games at Illinois, Northern Illinois, Wichita State, Bradley and Austin Peay, as well as home games versus Milwaukee, Kansas City and Southeast Missouri State. We also took on the challenge of a west coast swing, with games against Stanford, a Final Four team from last year, and Gonzaga, who actually beat Stanford and qualified for the NCAA Tournament. We are confident this lineup will help prepare us for what is sure to be an extremely challenging Summit League schedule.”
The Leathernecks cap off the 2017 year with their Summit League opener at Fort Wayne on Dec. 31, and open the new year with a pair of home games against South Dakota (Jan. 4) and Oral Roberts (Jan. 6). Western Illinois faces off against Omaha on the road (Jan. 13), and return home to cap off the regular-season series against Fort Wayne (Jan. 18).
Western then travels to Brookings, S.D. for its first matchup at South Dakota State on Jan. 20, followed by two straight games in Macomb against Denver (Jan. 24) and North Dakota State (Jan. 27). That precedes a pair of road games at South Dakota (Feb. 1) and Oral Roberts (Feb. 3) to open the month of February.
The Purple and Gold’s last five regular season games include three at home – against Omaha (Feb. 7), Eureka College (Feb. 12) and South Dakota State (Feb. 17) – before finishing its final two on the road at North Dakota State (Feb. 22) and Denver (Feb. 24).
The Leathernecks will look to defend their Summit League Women’s Basketball Tournament championship on March 3-6 in Sioux Falls, S.D. To view the full schedule, click HERE.