EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – SIUE women's basketball has announced its schedule for the 2019-20 season and the first word that comes to mind for Head Coach Paula Buscher is balance.
After playing nine consecutive nonconference road games in 2018, the Cougars' 2019 nonconference slate opens with an exhibition against Missouri S&T (Oct. 31) and features three consecutive home games at First Community Arena at the Vadalabene Center against Quincy (Nov. 5), SIU Carbondale (Nov. 8) and Evansville (Nov. 13) before the Cougars head on the road for the first time.
"This a great schedule, we have good balance," she said. "Being able to start at home with three home games before we go on the road is going to be really important. Being on the road as long as we were last year did wear on us as the season went along."
The Cougars also will face Saint Louis at home (Nov. 20). The contest with the Billikens is sandwiched between games at Nebraska (Nov. 17) and Missouri (Nov. 24).
"One of the great things is that we do have opponents that are within our region and that are rivalries," Buscher added. "The fact that we are playing Carbondale every year is great for both schools. The opportunity to play SLU home and away is great for both schools and it is something our fans can get into. Those are games that are recognizable to fans. It's great for the community."
SIUE also will play host to Purdue Fort Wayne (Dec. 4) and Loyola (Dec. 8) during the nonconference schedule. The Cougars will travel to Illinois State (Dec. 16) and face North Alabama and a Georgia State in the Georgia State Tournament Dec. 21 and 22.
The Ohio Valley Conference schedule features four road games in a row at the outset.
SIUE will travel to play Belmont (Jan. 2), Tennessee State (Jan. 4), Morehead State (Jan. 9) and Eastern Kentucky (Jan. 11).
"Four straight road games, that's a real tough stretch for a young team," Buscher said. "It ends up balancing out, but it will be important for us to understand that we're playing one game at a time and not look ahead and not get too caught up with what happened in the past and keep playing in the moment. Starting with the defending conference champions is going to be a big task, but we look forward to that and our nonconference schedule will prepare us for that type of start."
Other OVC road games for the Cougars include at Austin Peay (Jan. 30), at Murray State (Feb. 1), at Eastern Illinois (Feb. 13), at Southeast Missouri (Feb. 15) and at UT Martin (Feb. 27).
January features four straight home games with Tennessee Tech (Jan. 16), Jacksonville State (Jan. 18), Southeast Missouri (Jan. 23) and UT Martin (Jan. 25) coming to the Vadalabene Center.
The Cougars will play host to Morehead State (Feb. 6) in the annual "School Day" game at 11:30 a.m. Eastern Kentucky (Feb. 8), Austin Peay (Feb. 20), Murray State (Feb. 22) and Eastern Illinois (Feb. 29) also will come to Edwardsville.
The OVC Tournament will return to Evansville, Indiana's Ford Center March 4-7.
"The conference is going to be more balanced," Buscher said. "I think it will be tough night in and night out. The nonconference gives us some time to grow and mesh together. We're going to be a team that is getting better and better as the season goes."
Games are subject to change. Times will be announced at a later date.