The Eastern Washington women's basketball team has released its 2013-14 schedule, head coach Wendy Schuller announced Thursday, Sept. 5.
EWU will take on a total of six squads that advanced to postseason player last year. Nonconference opponents Iowa State and Gonzaga made the NCAA Tournament last year while Butler earned a bid to the WNIT, respectively, and will provide a stern test for the Eagles. Montana was the Big Sky's representative to the NCAA Tournament while Idaho State and Northern Colorado each earned bids to the WNIT.
Eastern warms up with an exhibition match versus the Master's College on Friday, Nov. 1, before opening its season with a road game at WCC member Portland on Friday, Nov. 8. SMU, member of the newly formed American Athletic Conference, comes to Cheney on Saturday, Nov. 16, followed by a mid-week tilt at cross-town rival Gonzaga on Wednesday, Nov. 20.
The Eagles conclude November with a pair of games in Las Vegas, Nev., as part of the South Point Shootout. EWU takes on Iowa State in its first game on Friday, Nov. 29, before wrapping up its stay against Butler on Saturday, Nov. 30.
"Those are teams that come from really strong leagues and tend to have bigger and more athletic players than we do," Schuller said. "It's a great opportunity for us to challenge ourselves to see if we can raise our game to another level. It's a nice chance to see where we need to be and what we need to be working on going forward."
EWU concludes its nonconference slate with four games at Reese Court, staring with a tilt versus Big West member Cal State Northridge on Friday, Dec. 6. The Eagles will then play three games in seven days starting with Idaho on Saturday, Dec. 14, followed by a date with Northwest University on Tuesday, Dec. 17. A tilt with Boise State on Saturday, Dec. 21 wraps up the Eagles' nonconference schedule.
"It's a chance to really gain some momentum," Schuller said. "It just kind of worked out for us that way, to play our final four nonconference games at home. When you're schedule, sometimes the chips just fall where they do. For us, it's a nice opportunity to be home before finals and the holidays, and to really get a chance to gain some momentum going into league play."
Eastern opens its Big Sky schedule at home, playing its first three league counters in the friendly confines of Reese Court. EWU takes on Portland State on Sunday, Dec. 29, to kick off its league slate before welcoming Weber State and Idaho State to Cheney on Thursday, Jan. 2, and Saturday, Jan. 4. The Eagles will journey to Montana for a pair of games the next week before returning home to take on Northern Arizona and Sacramento State. A tough three-game road trip at Southern Utah, North Dakota and Northern Colorado wraps up the first round of conference action.
The Eagles host the Montana schools on Thursday, Feb. 6, and Saturday, Feb. 8, respectively, before traveling to Sacramento State and Northern Arizona. Eastern welcomes Southern Utah to Cheney on Thursday, Feb. 20, before facing its travel partner, Portland State, on the road on Monday, Feb. 24.
EWU will play its final home games against Northern Colorado on Thursday, Feb. 7, and North Dakota on Saturday, Mar. 1. The Eagles wrap up regular season play at Idaho State and Weber State.
"I think everyone's league schedules are always going to be tough," Schuller said. "You're always going to have hard stretches where you're going to have to show a little bit of resiliency and fortitude. I'd say the three-game road trip that starts at the end of January will be a week where we're going to have to be road warriors because its tough travel and quality opponents. That's probably the stretch, and its midway through, so that'll be a big swing."
Eastern returns four starters and nine letter winners from last year's squad that earned a WNIT bid for the second time in school history. The Eagles finished third in the Big Sky with a 14-6 league mark and advanced to the semifinals of the Big Sky Tournament.
Courtesy: Eastern Washington Sports Information