Women’s basketball non-conference preview

By Hunter Ellis | Staff Writer

Newswire photo by Desmond Fischer. Junior forward A’riana Gray led the women’s basketball team in points per game last year, and her scoring ability makes her an offensive threat.

The Musketeers have a challenging non-conference schedule before the start of Big East play at the end of December. Here are some of the primary out-of-conference matchups to be on the lookout for.

Xavier kicks off the season with a game at home against Utah. The Utes had a record of 20-10 in 2018-19 and were ranked No. 21 toward the end of last season. However, the Utes lost a few of their statistical leaders from last season and have a young team. The squad will be led by sophomore point guard Dru Gylten, who is a Nancy Lieberman Award Watch List player along with senior guard Kiana Moore.

Temple will provide a tough challenge behind six-time Coach of the Year Tonya Cardoza and junior forward Mia Davis, who averaged 19 points per game last season en route to a first team All-Big 5 selection. Temple had an 11-19 record last year but was 7-4 at home in Philadelphia.

After several winning seasons under eighth-year coach Brady Sallee, Ball State suffered a down season last year, with a record of 8-23. While the Cardinals have a lot of young players on the roster, with 10 freshmen and sophomores, they return all five of their statistical leaders from last season and will likely be better this year.

The Wright State Raiders are coming off a 27-7 season and are picked to win the Horizon League for a second straight season this year. Wright State is led by senior guard Michal Miller, an all-conference first team player last season, and defending Horizon League Coach of the Year Katrina Merriweather.

Colorado is the second Pac-12 team the Musketeers will face, and the Buffaloes come from a loaded conference with three of the top 12 teams in all of women’s college basketball. They finished 12-18 last season and have been projected to finish last in the league this season. Colorado will depend on several underclassmen players to help improve upon the lackluster results last season.

The Crosstown Shootout is one of the most anticipated games of the season for the Musketeers.

Last year, the Bearcats won the contest at UC and finished the season 24-11. It was head coach Michelle Clark-Heard’s first season at the helm of the Bearcats’ squad.

UC is predicted to finish in a tie for third in the American Conference. The Bearcats bring on a whopping seven freshmen to the roster. They also return all of their statistical leaders from last season, including senior guard Antoinette Miller, who averaged 13.6 points per game and 5.2 assists per game.

The Musketeers will wrap up their non-conference schedule by playing in the third annual West Palm Beach Invitational.

They will first match up against Florida, who went 8-23 last season but plays in the tough SEC. The Gators boast two highly recruited guards, five-star Lavender Briggs and four-star Nina Rickards.

The Musketeers will then face Northwestern, who finished last year at 21-15. The Wildcats are led by junior guard Lindsey Pulliam, who was named to the Ann Meyers Drysdale Award Watch List.