JACKSONVILLE – The Jacksonville State women’s basketball team is set to face a tough 2011-12 schedule that features two NCAA Tournament teams from a year ago in the first month of the season, back-to-back match ups with Southeastern Conference foes and 12 home games at Pete Mathews Coliseum, JSU head coach Annette Watts announced Wednesday.
Jax State, entering its 16th year on the NCAA Division I level and its second under the direction of Watts, will open with an exhibition contest against Emory University on Nov. 6, a Division III program from Atlanta, Ga.
The Gamecocks will begin the regular season with three consecutive road match ups, including back-to-back games against Mississippi State and Kentucky of the SEC. The season opener versus the Lady Bulldogs of MSU is set for Friday, Nov. 11 in Starkville, Miss. JSU will take on UK four days later on Tuesday, Nov. 15 at Memorial Coliseum on the UK campus. The Wildcats of UK turned in a banner year in the Bluegrass State as they reached the SEC title game against Tennessee and reached the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament. The Red and White conclude the season-opening three-game road trip at Kennesaw State on Nov. 19.
“I am excited about putting this schedule together, but it is certainly a tough schedule,” said Annette Watts. “Anytime you open up with a pair of Southeastern Conference teams, you have to have your ducks in a row pretty early. I love playing those types of game because it lets know what you have to work on before conference play starts.”
JSU welcomes Lipscomb for its lone November contest at Pete Mathews on Monday, Nov. 21. Watts’ squad will spend the Thanksgiving holiday participating in the University of Southern Mississippi-hosted Lady Eagle Thanksgiving Classic on Nov. 25-26. The annual classic field includes – Georgia Southern, Stephen F. Austin and USM. The opening month of the season will wrap up against in-state rival Samford (Nov. 30) in Birmingham. Samford entered the field of 64 after claiming the Southern Conference title last year.
“We have scheduled two tournaments this year because I feel like those prepare you to play in the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament,” added Watts. “With the two tournaments, we can learn how to make those steps that it takes to win tournaments.”
The Gamecocks will spend most of December in Jacksonville – the home base and Florida’s city of Jacksonville. JSU will host in-state rival Troy on Dec. 4 and Division II member LeMoyne-Owen College on Dec. 10 before taking off to Florida for three games in the city of Jacksonville. Jax State begins its stay in the Sunshine State against the Dolphins of Jacksonville on Thursday, Dec. 15 before taking part in North Florida’s two-day tournament on Saturday, Dec. 17. The Osprey Holiday Classic features host UNF, Delaware State and Florida International.
Jax State will open its 16-game Ohio Valley Conference schedule on Dec. 20 as it takes on Eastern Kentucky at Pete Mathews Coliseum. After a brief Christmas break, the Gamecocks host Georgia State on Dec. 28 in the final non-conference action of the season.
The OVC has changed the women’s basketball schedule format as this year the women’s league games will be on Saturday’s and Monday’s for 2011-12.
“It’s a great OVC schedule and as always it will be a tough road in the league with UT Martin, Morehead State and Austin Peay and JSU wants to be right in that mix. We will stand alone on Monday nights. I like the new format simply because we will not miss a lot of school,” mentioned Watts.
JSU will usher in 2012 with a New Year’s Eve tilt with OVC-newcomer SIU Edwardsville before opening the new calendar year on Jan. 2 at Southeast Missouri.
A three-game OVC road stretch at Austin Peay (Jan. 14), Murray State (Jan. 16) and Tennessee Tech (Jan. 23) awaits JSU in mid-January before staying home for a trio of games to close out the month. Jax State will entertain Eastern Illinois (Jan. 28), SIUE (Jan. 30) and Tennessee Tech (Feb. 4). TTU claimed the regular season crown last season before falling to UT Martin in the OVC Championship. After three more road games, the Gamecocks wrap up the regular season versus SEMO (Feb. 23) and UTM (Feb. 25).
For the second-straight year, the top-eight teams in the final standings will convene in Nashville, Tenn. For the 2012 OVC Women’s Basketball Tournament, held on Feb. 29 through March 3 at the Nashville’s Municipal Auditorium.