The Urbana University women’s basketball team will open the 2017-18 season this week with a pair of exhibition games against Division I opponents IUPUI and eighth-ranked Ohio State. UU travels to Indianapolis today for a 7 p.m. game on ESPN3 against the Jaguars.
Then, UU makes the short trip to Columbus on Sunday for a 1 p.m. tipoff against the Buckeyes in Value City Arena.
Under new head coach Andrea McCloskey, the Blue Knights are looking to improve during the preseason and ultimately bounce back from a 6-20 record last year.
The Blue Knights will be one of the more experienced teams in the Mountain East Conference with 11 returners who have combined for 201 career starts. In addition, six returning players average over 20 minutes per game in their careers.
UU returns the squad’s top four scorers from 2016-17: Sylvia Hudson (14.0 ppg/9.0 rpg), Danie Shafer (13.6 ppg/two-time All-MEC), Stefanie Davis (11.9 ppg) and Megan Beachy (11.4). UU will also benefit from the return of Jazmyn Haley, who missed all of last season due to injury. Haley averaged 10.2 points and 8.0 boards in 2015-16 with seven double-doubles.
UU averaged 72.1 points per game last season while shooting 42 percent from the floor overall. The squad averaged 38.5 rebounds, 15.2 assists, and 7.6 steals per contest.
IUPUI at a glance:
The Jaguars, under eighth-year head coach Austin Parkinson, are coming off a program record 24-9 season and trip to the 2017 WNIT. IUPUI is a member of the Summit League and finished runner-up last year with a 12-4 conference record. Senior guard and top scorer Danielle Lawrence (15.6 ppg) leads a group of eight returners for a Jaguar squad that averaged 66.8 points per game last season. IUPUI is located in Indianapolis and plays its home games at the IUPUI Gymnasium, otherwise known as “The Jungle.”
Ohio State at a glance:
The Buckeyes are ranked No. 8 in the latest USA Today Coaches’ Poll and are coming off a 110-80 exhibition win over reigning D-II champion Ashland. Head coach Kevin McGuff is in his fifth year at the helm with an overall record of 95-44 at OSU. The Buckeyes return nine letterwinners from a 28-7 squad that captured their 15th league title in 2016-17. Senior Kelsey Mitchell (22.6 ppg), the 2017 Big Ten Player of the Year and three-time All-American, returns as the team’s leading scorer.
UU season opener:
UU opens the regular season on Wednesday, Nov. 15 in a non-conference battle at Tiffin. Tipoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.
The Blue Knights will host UVa-Wise on Saturday, Nov. 18, at 2 p.m. in the home conference opener at the Warren G. Grimes Center.