MOBILE, Ala. – Three home games against opponents from Power Five conferences and a berth in the Preseason Women’s National Invitation Tournament highlight the 2019-20 University of South Alabama women’s basketball scheduled released by head coach Terry Fowler on Wednesday.
“Based on the experienced roster we have coming back and the progression that our team has made moving forward the last couple of years, I feel that this schedule is going to challenge us and at the same time prepare us for conference play this season,” said Fowler. “It’s a great schedule, especially when you get the Power Five schools we have coming to the Mitchell Center — that’s just exciting for both our fans and our student-athletes.”
The Jaguars will open the campaign with a home contest on Tuesday, Nov. 5 against Rutgers, and will also play host to Alabama (Thursday, Nov. 21) and Auburn (Wednesday, Dec. 4) as part of their non-conference slate. Both Rutgers and Auburn finished 22-10 after earning a bid to the NCAA Tournament last March.
Prior to the start of Sun Belt Conference action, South will open the Preseason WNIT at UAB on Friday, Nov. 8 — with a potential match-up with Oklahoma two days later — while also playing both Tulane (Saturday, Dec. 7) and Southern Mississippi (Sunday, Dec. 15) on the road. The Blazers participated in the WNIT last season with the Jags, while the Golden Eagles earned a berth in the Women’s Basketball Invitational Tournament.
USA’s other non-conference home games are against Mobile (Tuesday, Nov. 16), Tennessee State (Saturday, Nov. 30) and William Carey (Tuesday, Dec. 17), with its final contest outside of league action set for Friday, Dec. 20 at East Tennessee State.
“We’re facing teams from the Big Ten, SEC, the American and C-USA, with potentially other major conference opponents as we progress in the WNIT, that’s great preparation for Sun Belt Conference play,” Fowler said. “That’s the model that our entire league is trying to follow to help us continue to upgrade our profile and improve our RPI. This season you’re going to see several Sun Belt teams play a challenging schedule like ours.”
Sun Belt play begins for the Jaguars with back-to-back games at the Mitchell Center against Appalachian State (Thursday, Jan. 2) and Coastal Carolina (Saturday, Jan. 4). South visits Louisiana on Thursday, Jan. 9, returning home two days later to take on ULM prior to a road trip to face Georgia State (Thursday, Jan. 16) and Georgia Southern (Saturday, Jan. 18). The final weekend of the first month of conference action will see the Jags play host to UTA (Thursday, Jan. 23) and Texas State (Saturday, Jan. 25).
USA will then have a week off before going to Troy on Saturday, Feb. 1, with games at home against Louisiana (Thursday, Feb. 6) and at ULM (Saturday, Feb. 8) to follow. A trip to take on Appalachian State (Thursday, Feb. 13) and Coastal Carolina (Saturday, Feb. 15) closes out a stretch of three straight road games, with the Jaguars coming back to the Mitchell Center to play host to Arkansas State (Thursday, Feb. 20), Little Rock (Saturday, Feb. 22) and Troy (Saturday, Feb. 29) to end the month.
The final weekend of the regular season will see South visit Arkansas State (Thursday, March 5) and Little Rock (Saturday, March 7).
“When I first saw the conference schedule come out I said, ‘Whoa!"” said Fowler. “That’s a challenging schedule based on the fact that we haven’t fared well against Arkansas State in the past, Little Rock is as good as it gets and the Troy-South Alabama game is as exciting a game as you are going to find anywhere in America. That stretch is tough, but it’s crucial going into the conference tournament; I think it will be great preparation as we enter the postseason.”
The conference sent a record seven teams to postseason play in 2019. Little Rock is the defending champion, having represented the league in the NCAA Tournament after earning a one-point victory over the Jags in the Sun Belt Tournament title game. UTA and Troy joined South in the WNIT, while three other league members — Appalachian State, Coastal Carolina and Georgia State — participated in the WBI with the Mountaineers going on to win the tournament.
The Sun Belt Conference Tournament will include 10 teams this season. The schools seeded Nos. 3 and 4 will play host to four-team pods on March 10-11, with the winners of the second round match-ups joining the top two seeds in New Orleans March 14-15 for the semifinals and championship contests.
All game times will be released at a later date.
The Jaguars went 25-10 a year ago — setting a program record for wins in a season — after advancing to the championship game of the Sun Belt Tournament and earning a win in the opening round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament.
For more information about South Alabama athletics, check back with www.usajaguars.com, and follow the Jaguars at www.twitter.com/WeAreSouth_JAGS. Season tickets for all Jaguar athletic events can be purchased by calling (251) 461-1USA (1872).
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