By jake Geiger, Staff Writer
After few non-conference games last season, the women’s basketball team is back to a normal schedule. some of the bigger matchups before Xavier heads into Big East play.
Xavier will open against the Memphis of the American Athletic
Conference to start their 2021 campaign on Nov. 9 at 7 p.m.
Memphis hired first-year Head Coach Katrina Merriweather from Wright State. The Tigers brought in six transfers, featuring Wright State’s Emani Jefferson and Tyler Frierson. Frierson was named to the Horizon All-Conference third team last season.
The Tigers are coming off a down season at 4-15, so this could be a winnable game for the Musketeers.
Xavier will then travel to Salt Lake City, Utah to face the Utah Utes. The Utes were 12-13 overall in the Pac-12 Conference.
The Utes will return Pac-12 honorable mentions Kemery Martin and Brynna Maxwell. Maxwell and Martin make up their starting backcourt and will be the driving force if they succeed. The Utes were also picked to finish 10th in the Pac-12 Conference preseason poll. Both of these high-level teams will be great challenges for Xavier. Xavier won their last game against Utah 70-63 in Head Coach Melanie Moore’s first game at Xavier.
Xavier will follow these two games with matchups against the Miami (Ohio)Redhawks and the Valparaiso Beacons. Both teams were below .500 in their 2020 campaigns.
Then, the Muskies will have a short trip to Dayton, Ohio to face the Wright State Terriers. Wright State finished 19-8 overall and 15-5 in the Horizon League conference. Wright State won their conference championship and defeated fourth-seeded Arkansas in the NCAA Tournament 66-62.
They eventually lost in the second round to fifth-seeded Missouri State 64-39. Wright State is picked to finish seventh in the Horizon League preseason poll after losing their head coach to Memphis.
Following this game, the Musketeers have a quick turnaround to face Eastern Kentucky. Following two conference games, Xavier closes out their non-conference slate at home against Niagara, at Cincinnati and at home against Southeast Missouri.
Niagara and Southeast Missouri should both be winnable games for the Musketeers. They’ll look to get revenge against Cincinnati after falling 85-78 in their last matchup.
Xavier was picked 10th out of 11 teams in the Big East Conference preseason poll. They return two of their top three scorers in sophomore guard Nia Clark and junior guard Kae Satterfield.
Redshirt junior forward Ayanna Townsend also returned and should be a crucial piece to the rotation, along with freshman Kaybriana Hallman.
A hot start in non-conference games is essential for Xavier to build momentum heading into Big East play, and the Musketeers surely have a good chance of pulling out some wins.
A good early start could also help the Musketeers build chemistry with so much roster turnover heading into the season.