PHILADELPHIA – Head Coach Jeff Williams and the La Salle women's basketball program has announced its 2012-13 nonconference slate, which features five BCS squads, eight postseason teams, seven 20+ win teams and a home contest against SEC foe Florida.
“We're playing a very tough nonconference schedule in hopes that it will prepare us for the A-10, which is going to be extremely tough and extremely competitive," Williams said. “We want our players to understand what it's like to win at a high level before we get into conference play.”
The Explorers open the 2012-13 campaign with three straight home games at Tom Gola Arena, kicked off on Sunday, Nov. 11, against Loyola-Chicago before hosting Northeastern on Nov. 15. The Explorers will host crosstown foe Drexel two days later, which finished third in the CAA last year and advanced to the second round of the WNIT.
The squad then heads on the road for five straight, starting at Lehigh on Tuesday, Nov. 20. A trip to North Carolina, which posted a 20-11 record last year, is on tap for Thanksgiving weekend (Sat. 11/24) followed by a trip to Georgetown on Nov. 28. The Explorers will face a Hoyas squad that went 23-9 last year while advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament as a No. 5 seed.
The Explorers round out the five-game road trip locally, with Big 5 contests at Penn (Fri. 11/30) and Villanova (Sun. 12/2). The Wildcats are the third postseason team the Explorers face, as they went to the third round of the WNIT after finishing just 11th in the BIG EAST.
The team returns home on Wednesday, Dec. 5, hosting defending America East champion and NCAA Tournament participant Albany, which went 23-10 a year ago.
Following an 11-day layoff for final exams, Florida pays a visit to Tom Gola Arena on Sunday, Dec. 16. The Explorers and Gators met a year ago in the Courtyard LaGuardia Turkey Classic at Long Island. The Gators advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament as a No. 9 seed last year while posting a 20-13 record.
The Explorers head back on the road for visits to Central Connecticut State (Wed. 12/19) and WNIT-participant Fairfield (Sat. 12/22) before closing out the 2012 calendar year at home against Saint Peter's (Sat. 12/29).
The team wraps up its nonconference slate with trips to Rutgers (Thurs. 1/3) and Richmond (Mon. 1/7) before beginning Atlantic 10 play on Saturday, Jan. 12. The Explorers will face a Rutgers squad that was a No. 6 seed in last year's NCAA Tournament and went 22-10. Richmond, though rotated out in this year's new Atlantic 10 format, was picked up as a nonconference game. The Spiders tied for fourth in the A-10 last year with a 23-9 record and advanced to the second round of the WNIT.
“We want to get some wins and get better,” Williams added. “We're trying to put ourselves in the best possible position to have success in the very demanding conference.”
The Atlantic 10 schedule was released earlier, which begins with a home contest against Rhode Island on Jan. 12.
The Atlantic 10 Women's Basketball Championship finale will be conducted in conjunction with the men's semifinal contests on Saturday, March 16 and will be televised on the ESPN Networks, while the first three rounds will once again be held at Michael J. Hagan '85 Arena on the campus of Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia, March 8-11.