(Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
PROVO -- A pair of Sweet Sixteen teams and an Elite Eight finisher in the 2010 NCAA tournament highlight the 2010-11 schedule for the BYU women’s basketball team, announced head coach Jeff Judkins.
The Cougar women are slated to play 14 nonconference games, including five at home and one in nearby Orem. Two of those road contests are at Duke, who played in the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament and at Gonzaga, a Sweet Sixteen finisher. A record 10 teams in preseason and in league play competed in postseason play last season.
BYU’s home opener is against Pac-10 foe Washington on Nov. 20.
“We’re extremely happy about our nonconference schedule and the teams we are scheduled to play,” said Judkins, who led the team to a 23-10, record including an impressive run in the 2010 postseason WNIT. “We’ve been working on strengthening our RPI and we feel that the caliber of teams we will play can help us with that.”
“We’re excited about our team, especially our core of seniors, and the talent and experience they bring,” Judkins added. “I think they also have a lot of confidence they can compete and play anybody especially on the road as we proved in our run in last season’s WNIT.
BYU opens the 2010-11 campaign on the road at Duke and at University of Chicago-Illinois, Nov. 13 and 17, and will spend the Thanksgiving holiday in California competing at the St. Mary’s tournament where it will matchup against Big 10 foe Northwestern and St. Mary’s. Northwestern advanced to the Third Round of the 2010 Postseason WNIT.
The following week, the Cougars head to Laie, Hawai’i to compete in the Hukilau Invitational where they will play BYU-Hawaii on Dec. 3 and first timer the University of San Diego on Dec. 4.
Three straight contests back in Utah take BYU to nearby Utah Valley University on Dec. 9 before playing Weber State and Portland State, a 2010 NCAA tournament participant, in the Marriott Center on Dec. 11 and 18. The game between the Cougars and Wolverines is scheduled to air live worldwide on BYUtv.
On Dec. 21 the team finds itself in Spokane, Wash., battling Sweet Sixteen finisher Gonzaga. A quick stop at home against Montana State on Dec. 30, and a road trip to Reno to play Nevada on Jan. 1 round out BYU’s nonconference slate. The Wolf Pack was one of the 64 teams selected to compete in last year’s postseason WNIT.
Two of the first four games of the 2011 Mountain West Conference schedule will have the squad on the road at Air Force on Jan. 8 and at TCU on either Jan. 18 or 19. The game with the Horned Frogs is scheduled to air nationally on CBS C.
“Our conference will be very balanced once again with TCU, Wyoming and San Diego State all battling for the top spot,” added Judkins. “We will need to come ready to play in every league game if we want to put ourselves in a position to finish at the top of the standings. We’ll also have a tough finish in the MWC as we play three of our last four games on the road.”
The Aztecs and Horned Frogs both played in last year’s NCAA tournament with San Diego State advancing to the Sweet Sixteen.
BYU begins league play hosting UNLV on Jan. 5. It hosts instate rival Utah on Jan.12 with the Rams of CSU paying a visit on Jan. 22.
On Jan. 26 the Cougars will find themselves in San Diego taking on the Aztecs before returning home to battle New Mexico on Jan. 29 and Wyoming on Feb. 2. The Lobos and Cowgirls competed in the 2010 postseason WNIT.
The second half of league play begins in Las Vegas where BYU takes on the Rebels on Feb. 5, a game that is scheduled to air live on The Mtn.
Four of the next five Cougar conference matches will be played in Utah beginning with a home matchup with the Air Force Falcons on Feb. 9. The team then takes a short trip to Salt Lake City where the Cougars and Utes battle at the Huntsman Center on Feb. 12.
TCU makes an appearance in Provo on Feb. 19 with San Diego State coming on Feb. 26. On Feb. 23 BYU will be in Ft. Collins taking on CSU. The team’s final TV game will be in Albuquerque on Mar. 1 where it will take on New Mexico. That game can be seen live on The Mtn. On Mar. 5 the Cougars finish league play at Wyoming.
The 2011 Conoco MWC Women’s Basketball Championships are slated for Mar. 8-12 in Las Vegas. League teams that finish first or second in the regular season race gets byes into the semifinals while the third place team gets a first round bye. The winner of the championship gets an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.