COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina's 29-game women's basketball schedule includes 16 outings against teams that competed in the 2010-11 postseason. Head coach Dawn Staley announced the non-conference portion of her team's schedule today, and it features five games against in-state opponents and a series of challenging road trips to prepare the Gamecocks' six newcomers for SEC play.
"We are excited about a non-conference schedule that is going to prepare our young team for the SEC season and set the stage for us to play farther into March," Staley said. "It's a good mix of challenges, especially on the road, and games that will build confidence in our six newcomers. We look forward to getting things started in November."
While the Gamecocks do not know the exact lineup of their SEC slate, they do know that they will face Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky and Vanderbilt twice this season. The league will release the full schedule in the coming weeks.
In non-conference action, South Carolina will play just seven of its 13 games at Colonial Life Arena after enjoying nine home dates last season. The Gamecocks took on nine of this season's non-SEC opponents in 2010-11, posting a 6-3 record against them. They will face their most strident challenges on the road, traveling to Illinois, Clemson, Xavier, NC State and Drexel while facing North Carolina in Myrtle Beach.
The 2011-12 campaign kicks off at Illinois before the home opener against Alabama A&M on Mon., Nov. 14. A Nov. 17 trip to archrival Clemson leads into a three-game homestand for the Gamecocks.
South Carolina will look to avenge last season's defeat at Penn State when the Nittany Lions come to Columbia on Sun., Nov. 20. Penn State finished the 2010-11 campaign with a 25-10 record and advanced to the NCAA Tournament second round, but has won just once in three tries against the Gamecocks in Columbia.
After hosting College of Charleston and Presbyterian to bookend the long Thanksgiving weekend, South Carolina travels to Xavier, which closed the 2010-11 season ranked as high as No. 5 in the nation but has a first-year head coach in Amy Waugh, who took the reins of her alma mater this summer after two seasons as an assistant. The Gamecocks head north to NC State just before exams begin, looking for their fourth-straight win over the Wolfpack.
South Carolina's return home sets up games against Furman, which hasn't faced the Gamecocks since 2001, on Sun., Dec. 11, and a Wed., Dec. 14, matchup against South Carolina State.
The Gamecocks continue their annual neutral-site matchup with North Carolina at the Carolinas Challenge in Myrtle Beach on Sun., Dec. 18. The Tar Heels advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 last season, closing the season ranked as high as No. 12. South Carolina plays its final non-conference game at Colonial Life Arena on Wed., Dec. 21, hosting Savannah State. The final tune-up for SEC action will be at Drexel on Wed., Dec. 28.
Season tickets for women's basketball are on sale now at www.GamecocksOnline.com or by calling 1-800-4SC-FANS. Prices start at $50 for general admission, or a Family Four-Pack of tickets is available for $100.