first_imgFirst game – Friday vs. Texas Lutheran – 5 p.m. – Corpus Christi, TexasConference opener – Dec. 28 vs. Central Arkansas – 1 p.m. – Corpus Christi, Texas First game – Sunday vs. Southern-New Orleans – 2 p.m. – Lake Charles, La.Conference opener – Dec. 28 at UIW – 6 p.m. – San Antonio, Texas The Sugar Bears are coming off their second-straight championship season, capturing both the regular season and tournament titles in 2016 and 2017. UIW Cardinals – Preseason Ranking: 10 – 2016-17 Record/Place: 9-20 (7-11 SLC), T-8thThe Cardinals experienced a significant turnaround in 2017-18 under first-year head coach Christy Smith, finishing with seven league victories, equaling the number of conference wins in the previous three seasons combined. UIW is now eligible for Southland and NCAA postseason play after completing their Division I transition period. Freshman of the Year Imani Robinson returns for the Cardinals to lead a team that must replace graduated all-conference and all-defensive player Celia Garcia Paunero. UIW opens the season at Oklahoma State and will also travel to Utah, Weber State, Rice, Houston and Texas Tech for a loaded nonconference season. First game – Friday vs. Hendrix College – 6 p.m. – Conway, Ark.Conference opener – Dec. 28 at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi – 1 p.m. – Corpus Christi, Texas First game – Friday vs. Alcorn State – 5 p.m. – Hammond, La.Conference opener – Dec. 28 at Stephen F. Austin – 7 p.m. – Nacogdoches, Texas First game – Friday at UL Lafayette – 7 p.m. – Lafayette, La.Conference opener – Dec. 28 at Abilene Christian – 7 p.m. – Abilene, TexasAbilene Christian Wildcats – Preseason Ranking: 5 – 2016-17 Record/Place: 23-9 (16-2 SLC), T-1stThe Wildcats lost their decorated senior class of Lizzy and Suzzy Dimba, Alexis Mason and Sydney Shelstead to graduation, and return just one starter and seven letterwinners from last season’s team that won its second consecutive Southland regular season title and reached the second round of the WNIT. Sophomore point guard Breanna Wright is the lone returning starter from 2016-17. The team’s nonconference schedule includes back-to-back road trips to SMU and Arkansas and a conference opener at home against New Orleans. Nicholls Colonels – Preseason Ranking: 9 – 2016-17 Record/Place: 10-20 (7-11 SLC), T-8thThe Colonels return with one of the best all-around players in the conference in junior guard Cassidy Barrios. The Raceland, La., native ranked in the top 10 in the Southland in scoring, field goal percentage, free throw percentage, rebounding and steals. Nicholls finished second in the nation last season with a 13.2 steal per game average. The Colonels have a loaded nonconference schedule, highlighted by a home contest against Baylor. Nicholls will also take on LSU and Iowa State on the road. First game – Friday at Arkansas – 10:30 a.m. – Fayetteville, Ark.Conference opener – Dec. 30 at Abilene Christian – 2 p.m. – Abilene, Texas Abilene Christian and Central Arkansas are the defending co-regular season champions, having both finished with 16-2 league records last season. The Wildcats completed their Division I transition and are now fully eligible for Southland and NCAA postseason play along with UIW. New Orleans Privateers – Preseason Ranking: 4 – 2016-17 Record/Place: 14-15 (9-9 SLC), 5thGuard Randi Brown returns for her senior season after garnering all-conference recognition last year and averaging 24.6 points per game to lead conferene play. The Privateers open their season with the Preseason Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT), first facing UL Lafayette on the road. UNO’s nonconference slate features tough road tests at Miami, Missouri and Tulane before opening the Southland season at defending regular season champion Abilene Christian. Lamar Cardinals – Preseason Ranking: 1 – 2016-17 Record/Place: 22-8 (15-3 SLC), 3rdLamar returns all five starters from a squad that went 15-3 against Southland opponents last season, including three First Team Preseason All-Conference picks in graduate post player Kiandra Bowers and junior guard duo Moe Kinard and Chastadie Barrs. Bowers needs 58 points to reach the 1,000-point mark for her career. The Cardinals take on Baylor in Waco, Texas, to open their season and also have a Big Ten matchup on their slate, facing Purdue on Nov. 18. Lamar looks to secure a Southland tournament berth for the 13th consecutive season. First game – Friday vs. Southwest – 5:30 p.m. – Abilene, TexasConference opener – Dec. 28 vs. New Orleans – 2 p.m. – Abilene, TexasMcNeese Cowgirls – Preseason Ranking: 6 – 2016-17 Record/Place: 14-17 (8-10 SLC), T-6thThe Cowgirls return six letterwinners from last season’s Southland tournament team, plus a trio of redshirts. McNeese will play three games versus 2017 NCAA Tournament teams (Texas, Baylor, UCA) and five games against 2017 WNIT squads (Tulane, Grambling, Louisiana Tech, SMU, Abilene Christian). Second-year head coach Kacie Cryer led the Cowgirls to an 8-10 league record and an appearance in the Southland tournament in her first year at the helm. Houston Baptist Huskies – Preseason Ranking: 11 – 2016-17 Record/Place: 6-22 (4-14 SLC), 11thThe Huskies return 11 letterwinners from last season, including three starters. The team also gains the return of redshirt-sophomore point guard Bria Johnson who started the first eight games of the 2016-17 season before a season-ending injury. Other key returners include junior center Veronika Kirienko, sophomore forward Lauren Calver, and junior guard Amanda Johnson. Kirienko played in 26 games, averaging 3.1 points and 3.2 rebounds a game. Johnson appeared in 28 games last season and averaged 5.1 points per game while Calver played in 26 games and averaged 4.8 points and 2.3 rebounds a game. First game – Friday at Oklahoma State – 11 a.m. – Stillwater, Okla.Conference opener – Dec. 28 vs. McNeese – 6 p.m. – San Antonio, Texascenter_img First game – Friday at Baylor – 7 p.m. – Waco, TexasConference opener – Dec. 28 at Houston Baptist – 7 p.m. – Houston, Texas Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders – Preseason Ranking: 7 – 2016-17 Record/Place: 14-18 (8-10 SLC), T-6thThe Islanders return in 2017-18 with all-time leading three-point scorer Brittany Mbamalu, looking to build off a semifinal run at the Southland Conference Tournament a year ago. A&M-Corpus Christi returns nine players from that squad. Seven newcomers dot sixth-year head coach Royce Chadwick’s roster, including Texas transfer Tasia Foman and Louisiana Tech transfer Tiara Davenport. The team’s November games include three straight road games at UTRGV, UTEP and New Mexico State plus matchups with Prairie View A&M and Florida A&M at the UTRGV Tournament. First game – Friday at Ole Miss – 5 p.m. – Oxford, Miss.Conference opener – Dec. 28 vs. Nicholls – 6:30 p.m. – Natchitoches, La. Stephen F. Austin Ladyjacks – Preseason Ranking: 3 – 2016-17 Record/Place: 25-8 (14-4 SLC), 4thThe Ladyjacks return seven players who saw game action last season, including four players who started multiple games, led by redshirt senior Stevi Parker, who averaged 11.2 points, 8.6 rebounds, two assists and a steal per game last season while starting all 33 games. SFA is one of just eight Division I women’s basketball programs with 1,000 or more total wins. The Ladyjacks open the season at Kansas State and will feature nonconference matchups at home against South Dakota and on the road against Montana and Montana State. Sam Houston State Bearkats – Preseason Ranking: 13 – 2016-17 Record/Place: 3-25 (3-15 SLC), T-12thThe Bearkats return leading scorer Jenniffer Oramas (9.1 points per game), leading rebounder Lydia Baxter (6.6), leading three-point shooter Rachel Harrell (38) and leading blocker Kierra McKinney (38) to this year’s squad. In total, 10 of 13 players from last season’s roster return for 2017-18 as well as the addition of three freshmen newcomers. Sam Houston State plays the first game in Division I, opening with a 10:30 a.m. CT contest at Arkansas on Friday. The Kats also face Rice and LSU before opening conference play against defending regular-season champion Abilene Christian on Dec. 30. Central Arkansas Sugar Bears – Preseason Ranking: 2 – 2016-17 Record/Place: 26-5 (16-2 SLC), T-1stAfter winning their second consecutive Southland Conference Tournament in 2017, the Sugar Bears enter the 2017-18 season looking to become the first Southland program with three straight NCAA Tournament berths since Stephen F. Austin in 2000-02. Following the loss of all-conference guards Maggie Proffitt and Brianna Mullins, UCA faces the most challenging non-conference slate in program history with trips to a trio of programs with national championships to their credit in Baylor, Tennessee and Texas A&M, which have combined for 11 titles and 22 Final Four appearances. Southeastern Louisiana Lady Lions – Preseason Ranking: 12 – 2016-17 Record/Place: 5-24 (3-15 SLC), T-12th2017-18 marks the Lady Lions’ first season under head coach Ayla Guzzardo. The Hammond, Louisiana native took over her hometown university’s team and was named the seventh head coach in program history on April 3, 2017. Southeastern is led by senior guard Taylin Underwood, who was a Second Team All-Conference pick a season ago. The Livingston, La., native tied her own single-season school record with 73 three-point field goals a season ago and averaged 18.6 points per game – the highest season scoring average by a Lady Lions since the 1999-00 season. First game – Friday at SMU – 11:30 a.m. – Dallas, TexasConference opener – Dec. 28 at Northwestern State – 6:30 p.m. – Natchitoches, La. First game – Sunday at South Florida – 2 p.m. – Tampa, Fla.Conference opener – Dec. 28 vs. Lamar – 7 p.m. – Houston, Texas 2017-18 Southland Women’s Basketball Week 1 Notes (PDF)FRISCO, Texas – The 2017-18 Southland Conference women’s basketball season gets underway Friday with 11 teams in opening-day action. Northwestern State Lady Demons – Preseason Ranking: 8 – 2016-17 Record/Place: 13-17 (7-11 SLC), T-8thDespite losing just two letterwinners, Northwestern State must replace 46.7 percent of its scoring and 78.1 percent of its made three-pointers from the 2016-17 season. Second-year head coach Jordan Dupuy enters 2017-18 with his first full recruiting class and aims to secure NSU’s sixth-straight Southland Conference Tournament appearance. The Lady Demons’ slate includes road games at Oklahoma State, Texas and TCU. They will be led by junior post player Cheyenne Brown, who needs 324 points to reach 1,000 for her career. The Southland Conference Basketball Tournament returns to the Leonard E. Merrell Center in Katy, Texas, for the 11th consecutive year in 2018. The women’s matchups take place from March 8-11. First game – Friday at Kansas State – 5:30 p.m. – Manhattan, Kan.Conference opener – Dec. 28 vs. Southeastern Louisiana – 7 p.m. – Nacogdoches, Texaslast_img

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