WKU women release 2018-19 schedule
The Western Kentucky women's basketball program announced Monday its schedule under first-year coach Greg Collins that features eight dates inside E.A. Diddle Arena and matchups against Louisville, Oklahoma, Iowa, Oregon State and Notre Dame.
Western's schedule includes contests against seven teams which reached the 2018 NCAA Tournament, including each of the Lady Toppers’ first four games. Of those seven teams, four reached at least the Sweet Sixteen, Louisville reached the Final Four and Notre Dame was crowned the national champion.
The Lady Toppers will open the season with an exhibition against West Virginia State on Nov. 1 inside Diddle Arena before the previously-announced, regular-season opener against Louisville on Nov. 6.
WKU will be meeting U of L, a 2018 Final Four participant, for the 46th time with the Lady Toppers holding a 25-20 edge in the series.
Just three days after the bout with Louisville, WKU will make the trek west to take on Oklahoma for the first time since the 1985-86 campaign. The Sooners have reached 19 consecutive NCAA Tournaments and made an appearance in the national championship game in 2002.
WKU’s season continues Nov. 13 as the Lady Toppers welcome Iowa to Diddle Arena for a rematch of last season’s 104-97 overtime game in the 2017 Hawkeye Classic. With the Hawkeyes visiting, WKU will be hosting two Power 5 opponents for the first time since 2010-11 when the Lady Toppers brought Northwestern and Texas Tech to Diddle Arena.
Iowa finished 2017-18 with a 24-7 record and reached the NCAA Tournament.
Following the short trip home, WKU will head north to square off against 2017-18 Sweet Sixteen participant Central Michigan in Mount Pleasant, Mich., on Nov. 17. On Nov. 20, the Lady Toppers will bring Southern Illinois to Diddle Arena as part of the home-and-home series against the Salukis.
For its in-season tournament, WKU will leave the United States for the first time since 2013-14 to participate in the Vancouver Showcase presented by bd Global in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. In a loaded field, the Lady Toppers will get a rematch of their first-round NCAA Tournament matchup against Oregon State on Nov. 22 and will then face either East Tennessee State or South Carolina the following day.
On the final day of the tournament, WKU will be matched up against either Drake, Gonzaga, Notre Dame or Rutgers depending on the results of the first two days.
Over the final month of its nonconference slate, WKU is set to face Morgan State (Nov. 28), Bellarmine (Dec. 8), Ball State (Dec. 16) and Union (Dec. 29) inside Diddle Arena and will be on the road for two premier tilts away from home. The first, Dec. 1, will be a battle against former Sun Belt rival Little Rock.
Finally, WKU will wrap up the road portion of its nonconference schedule with a visit to the reigning national champion Notre Dame on Dec. 19. This matchup will mark the first time that the Lady Toppers have squared off against the current national title holder since 1997-98 when WKU met Tennessee in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Last season, WKU lost 78-65 to the Fighting Irish.
Western (24-9 in 2017-18) returns the reigning Conference USA freshman of the year and sixth player of the year in Raneem Elgedawy and Dee Givens, respectively, and also brings back Whitney Creech, who started all but one game last season and earned CUSA all-tournament team honors.
In addition, the Lady Toppers will bring in transfers Sandra Skinner, formerly at Virginia Commonwealth, and Jae’Lisa Allen, from Virginia, to join the program. Skinner will sit out the 2018-19 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules while Allen will be immediately eligible as a graduate transfer for the Lady Toppers.
Myriah Noodel-Haywood, a freshman from Edwardsville, Ill., will round out the roster after joining the Lady Toppers as a late signee. She will join fellow freshmen Meral Abdelgawad and Kallie Searcy to bring the total number of newcomers on the roster to five.