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EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – With 15 home games on the 2017-18 schedule, SIUE women's basketball Head Coach Paula Buscher said the Cougars will have a good balance of home and road contests for the upcoming season.
SIUE, which has advanced to the semifinals of the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament in each of the last three seasons, has nine opponents on the schedule which advanced to the 2016-17 postseason.
"We always attempt to formulate a schedule that will challenge us during the preseason and the nonconference season so we are ready for the opponents in the Ohio Valley Conference," said Buscher. "We intentionally seek out opponents that present unique challenges offensively or defensively."
The 2017-18 schedule begins with an exhibition contest Nov. 3 against Missouri-St. Louis.
SIUE opens the regular season on the road Nov. 11 with a contest at Nebraska of the Big Ten.
"Nebraska has terrific fan support, and Pinnacle Bank Arena will be a challenging environment for our team," said Buscher. "We look forward to these opportunities to match up against Power 5 competition."
The regular season home schedule begins Nov. 17 with the first of five nonconference games at the Vadalabene Center. The Cougars face Air Force for the home opener. SIUE's nonconference home games include four programs which advanced to the Women's National Invitational Tournament (WNIT) last season -- Saint Louis (Nov. 21), Stetson (Dec. 3), Central Michigan (Dec. 7) and Northern Illinois (Dec. 17).
"You will see some strong, disciplined opponents come through the Vadalabene Center this season," Buscher said.
The nonconference road schedule includes SIU Carbondale (Nov. 27), Illinois State (Nov. 30), Missouri (Dec. 10) as well as the FGCU Hilton Garden Inn Classic (Dec. 20-21) in Fort Myers, Florida, where the Cougars will face Akron and Florida Gulf Coast.
"FGCU and Missouri both made the NCAA Tournament last season," added Buscher. "SIU Carbondale also advanced to the Women's Basketball Invitational (WBI) last season."
SIUE's OVC schedule kicks off at the tail end of 2017 with four straight road contests. SIUE meets Austin Peay (Dec. 28), Murray State (Dec. 30), Eastern Kentucky (Jan. 4) and Morehead State (Jan. 6).
The home OVC schedule begins with what has become an annual Field Trip Game through the courtesy of Phillips 66 Wood River Refinery. SIUE faces Tennessee State in an 11:30 a.m. contest Jan. 11.
"We're so grateful to Phillips 66 Wood River Refinery for allowing us the opportunity to continue this tradition," said Buscher. "I know the players look forward to the level of excitement this generates in the gym."
The Cougars play nine OVC home contests overall. It includes defending OVC champion and NCAA Tournament participant Belmont (Jan. 13), Southeast Missouri (Jan. 17), UT Martin (Jan. 20), Tennessee Tech (Feb. 1), Jacksonville State (Feb. 3), Eastern Illinois (Feb. 7), Murray State (Feb. 10) and Austin Peay (Feb. 21).
The road OVC contests include Tennessee State (Jan. 25), Belmont (Jan. 28), UT Martin (Feb. 15), Southeast Missouri (Feb. 17) and Eastern Illinois (Feb. 24).
The OVC previously announced that the league's postseason tournament will take place at the Ford Center in Evansville, Indiana, from Feb. 28 to Mar. 3.