By: Luke Feliciano ~Staff Writer~
The Big East released its schedule for women’s basketball conference play on Sept. 20, allowing fans a chance to preview a few key opponents for the upcoming season.
Xavier loses two of its three top scorers from a season ago, Bri Glover and Aliyah Zantt, and will face an increasingly challenging Big East pool in addition to a few tough non-conference opponents.
One non-conference game that figures to be a highly anticipated matchup is the Dec. 19 battle against preseason ranked No. 24 Oklahoma in the Puerto Rico Classic.
On top of that, the Musketeers get a chance at revenge when they play Michigan on Dec. 5 after losing by a large margin to the Wolverines last year.
They also have the Crosstown Shootout on Dec. 11 against the Cincinnati Bearcats at the University of Cincinnati.
One of the hardest matchups in Big East play all season will be against defending regular season champs DePaul.
Currently, the Blue Demons are ranked 20th in the AP top 25 preseason poll and return one of the conference’s leading scorers from last year in Jessica January, who averaged 14 points per game. The Musketeers will face off against DePaul on Jan. 15 in Chicago and Feb. 10 at home.
St. John’s also presents a formidable challenge, as it brought home the Big East title last year with a victory over Creighton. However, its firepower from a year ago may be dwindled as a result of losing last year’s Big East first and fourth top scorers in Danejah Grant and Aliyyah Handford. Xavier will play St. John’s on Jan. 1 and 29, with the latter taking place in New York.
Marquette finished as a middle of the pack team in the Big East last year but do return sophomore Allazia Blockton.
She will be the highest returning scorer in the conference after posting 18.7 points per game last season.
Seton Hall placed second in regular season Big East play last season but lost a trio of seniors, Tabatha Richardson-Smith, Aleesha Powell and Shakena Richardson.
All three placed in the top 20 in scoring in the Big East, averaging double digits in offense.
Creighton finished at the bottom end of the Big East regular season standings last year before an improbable run to the conference championship game. The Bluejays will return Audrey Faber and MC McGrory, who both averaged more than 12 points per game and could make Creighton a tough opponent on the Musketeers’ schedule.
Xavier opens the regular season in the Lauren Hill Tipoff Classic against the Tennessee State Tigers on Nov. 12 at Cintas Center.