AU women’s basketball team releases schedule

The Eagle highlights some of women’s basketball early season opponents

AU women’s basketball team releases schedule

AU Athletics released the women’s basketball schedule for the 2016-2017 season on Sept. 19, and it looks like an exciting season.

The Eagles will have a challenge ahead as they take on teams the program has never faced, including its two Big Ten opponents. They look to improve on last season’s record of 8-23, when the Eagles went 5-13 in the Patriot League. To start off the season, the Eagles will take a trip down to San Juan, Puerto Rico for the San Juan Shootout.

At the Shootout they will play Virginia Commonwealth University, of the Atlantic 10 Conference, and Georgia State, of the Sunbelt Conference. They then have two exciting games against Pennsylvania State University and the University of Michigan, two Big Ten schools. Here is a closer look at these four opponents and what to expect this upcoming season.

Nov. 25: VCU at San Juan Shootout

2015-16 Record: 23-10 (10-6 Atlantic 10 Conference)

The Virginia Commonwealth Rams had a successful season last year, advancing to the semifinals of the A10 conference tournament, before losing to the University of Virginia by two points in the first round of the Women’s National Invitational Tournament (WNIT). The Rams began the 2015-2016 season with a 14-2 record. They began to stumble, losing to St. Louis University on January 7, the first of eight losses in the second half of the season. The majority of their losses were to A10 conference teams. The Eagles plan to face them in the San Juan Shootout with their senior guard Isis Thorpe leading the Rams.

Nov. 26: Georgia State at San Juan Shootout

2015-16 Record: 10-19 (5-15 Sun Belt Conference)

Primarily led by freshmen during their 2015-16 season, the Georgia State Panthers are  returning seven players who started 13 or more games and eight players who played significant minutes last season. Junior Makeba Ponder is also returning as the Sun Belt’s leader in three-point baskets made per game from 2015-16. The Panthers began last season strong with a win against Kennesaw State, but proceeded to lose the following three games, before steadying their performances for the remainder of the season.

Dec. 18: at Pennsylvania State University

2015-16 Record: 12-19 (6-12 Big Ten Conference)

Following a 2015-16 season that culminated with a loss to the Purdue Boilermakers in the Big Ten tournament, the Penn State Lady Lions welcome the Eagles to their own court at the end of the calendar year. The Lady Lions began their previous season with two straight wins against  Holy Cross and Fordham. At the end of non-conference play, Penn State went on a four-game losing streak, and maintained an inconsistent win-lose record for the entirety of their season. Senior Peyton Whitted, a forward who ranked seventh in the Big Ten with 8.5 rebounds per game last season, will look to trouble the Eagles frontcourt.

Dec. 22: at University of Michigan

2015-16 Record: 21-14 (9-9 Big Ten Conference)

Michigan secured its fifth successive 20 win season and advanced to the semifinals of the WNIT for the second consecutive season, falling to Florida Gulf Coast University. The Wolverines set numerous school records in team field goal percentage, points per game, and assists per game, while finishing fifth in the nation in three-point field goal percentage and sixth in field goal percentage. Junior Katelynn Flaherty broke the school’s single-season scoring record, accumulating 774 points last season. Senior Siera Thompson set a single-season school record with 178 assists last season and sophomore Hallie Thome finished the year second in the nation in field goal percentage. Flaherty, Thompson and Thome all look to play integral parts the Wolverines this season and offer the Eagles a tough non-conference test.

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