JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Sept. 14, 2011) – Sixteen home games, including contests with SEC power LSU, Tennessee Tech, MTSU, Morehead State, and Chattanooga, and road trips to North Carolina and Richmond are all on tap for the Lady Bucs this upcoming season, as head coach Karen Kemp released the 2011-12 ETSU women’s basketball schedule on Wednesday afternoon.
The Lady Bucs will play five non-conference home games inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center this year, including a First Round Preseason WNIT matchup with in-state foe Tennessee Tech to kick off the regular season on Friday, Nov. 11.
“I always like to test my team in non-conference play and I feel this schedule does that,” said Kemp, who is entering her 18th season at the helm. “This schedule features a balance of tough games against top national powers, as well as some of the best mid-major teams in the country. We need to be ready to play each night we step on the floor, because every team we face will be difficult.”
ETSU will be tested early and often as the Blue and Gold will be a part of the 16-team Preseason WNIT field, which includes Notre Dame (last year’s national runner-up), Baylor, and UCLA. The winner of the ETSU/Tennessee Tech game will face the winner of UCLA/McNeese State, while the losing teams will be placed into a four-team pod to be played the weekend of Nov. 18-19.
“It’s exciting to be playing in the Preseason WNIT and an honor to be hosting a first round game,” added Kemp. “Once again, the committee put together another strong field, so we will know where we stand early on.”
Following the prestigious Preseason WNIT, the Lady Bucs host MTSU – one of seven teams on ETSU’s schedule who appeared in postseason play last season – on Saturday, Nov. 26. The Blue Raiders reached the NCAA Tournament for the 14th time in program history in 2010-11.
A four-game road swing featuring teams who appeared in the postseason a year ago will test the Lady Bucs’ character to close out the month of November and open December. ETSU begins the trip with a team the Blue and Gold knocked off in 2010-11 when the Lady Bucs face Richmond on Dec. 1. From there, the Lady Bucs open Atlantic Sun Conference play with games at reigning tournament champion Stetson (Dec. 1) and regular season conference champion FGCU (Dec. 3). After a week lay-off, ETSU closes out the swing at North Carolina on Sunday, Dec. 11. The Lady Bucs and Tar Heels will be facing each other for the third consecutive season in Chapel Hill.
Once again ETSU will have a little over a week between games as the Lady Bucs gear up for their longest home stand of the season from Dec. 20 through Jan. 9. ETSU hosts Morehead State (Dec. 20) and Chattanooga (Dec. 22) to close out the 2011 calendar year, while ringing in 2012 with three straight conference home games – USC Upstate (Jan. 4), Mercer (Jan. 7), and USC Upstate (Jan. 9).
From there, the Lady Bucs will play all conference foes except for one, as coach Kemp rewarded the Lady Buccaneer faithful with a home game against the LSU Lady Tigers on Tuesday, Jan. 24. The LSU game will mark the second time in the last four seasons the Lady Bucs have hosted an SEC opponent inside the MSHA Athletic Center (Vanderbilt back on Nov. 21, 2008). This will also mark the first meeting between ETSU and LSU.
“Whenever you have the opportunity host a big name school, you have to jump on it,” Kemp said. “We are fortunate to play LSU at home and hopefully our fans come out and support us.”
The LSU matchup concludes a brief three-game home swing with ETSU hosting Belmont (Jan. 19) and Lipscomb (Jan. 21) prior to the big showdown inside the Dome.
After the homestand, five of the Lady Bucs’ last nine games will be played on the road, which includes trips to USC Upstate, Mercer, Kennesaw State, Lipscomb, and Belmont. However, for the first time since the 2008-09 campaign, ETSU closes out regular season play at home. The Lady Bucs host Stetson on Feb. 23 and FGCU on Feb. 25.
The 2012 A-Sun Tournament will again be played inside Mercer’s University Center. The eight-team tournament format kicks off on Wednesday, Feb. 29 and the championship game will be played on Saturday, March 3, with the winner being awarded the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
ETSU will play a pair of exhibition games prior to the start of the regular season, beginning on Nov. 3 against Carson-Newman. The Lady Bucs also host King on Monday, Nov. 7.
For more information on Lady Buccaneer hoops, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.