By WJBC Staff
NORMAL – Illinois State women’s basketball released its 2018-19 non-conference schedule, facing 11 out-of-league opponents for Kristen Gillespie’s second year at the helm of the program.
The 2018-19 season will begin as the team travels southwest to face the SIUE Cougars on Sunday, Nov. 11. SIUE is one of seven non-conference repeat opponents from the 2017-18 season, alongside Eastern Michigan, Cleveland State, Butler, Oakland, Northern Kentucky and UMKC.
“We will be tested early on in the season with this non-conference schedule and I’m confident that we’ll be ready to meet these challenges before starting conference play,” Coach Gillespie said. “Our schedule is challenging yet balanced for us this season. I am excited about the competition we will face on the road, as well as the quality of teams we will bring to Redbird Arena.”
The Redbirds welcome back four of five starters from the 2017-18 season, along with Newcomer of the Year, Simone Goods.
“Our fans will see lots of new faces on the floor this year but we like how this team is working together this off-season in preparation for the start of the new season,” Gillespie said. “We return six players from last year and we welcomed six to our program. Our returners have done a great job setting the culture and the newcomers have been very quick to learn. This is a very competitive team and they are ready to face the challenges of our schedule.”
· Illinois State leads the series 3-2 after defeating the Cougars in Redbird Arena last season, 62-47.
· Paula Buscher enters her seventh season as head coach and holds a 95-91 overall record at SIUE.
· Jay’Nee Alston and Sydney Bauman are the only two starters to return for the Cougars.
The ‘Birds will return to Redbird Arena for the season home-opener against North Dakota on Wednesday, Nov. 14. This is the first time in program history the two will meet.
· Travis Brewster is a two-time Big Sky Conference Coach of the Year and enters his seventh season as the head coach of the Fighting Hawks.
· The team went 12-18 last season and return majority of the starting lineup.
· Lexi Klabo led for the Hawks in the 2017-18 season, averaging 19.0 points and 9.3 rebounds.
The Redbirds will take to the road for a three-game stretch as they head to Eastern Michigan (Nov. 17), Cleveland State (Nov. 19) and Butler (Nov. 25).
· The ‘Birds took a 65-56 victory over the Eagles last season in Redbird Arena, improving their series record to 3-0.
· Fred Castro enters his third season at the helm and owns a 17-45 record.
· The Eagles return their two leading scorers, Danielle Minott and Courtnie Lewis, who averaged 16.7 and 15.0 points, respectively.
· Illinois State saw Cleveland State for the second time in program history last season. The Vikings captured a 56-47 win in Redbird Arena, improving its series record to 2-0.
· Chris Kieslmeier enters his first season as head coach for the Vikings.
· The Vikings have a young roster, featuring five freshman and four sophomores. Jade Ely returns for her junior campaign after a solid sophomore season, averaging 7.6 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists.
· The Bulldogs are 3-3 when facing the Redbirds after capturing a 56-45 win last season.
· Kurt Godlevske enters his fourth season with the Bulldogs and has a 30-62 overall record.
· Butler returns four of their five starters from the 2017-18 season. Whitney Jennings led with 16.8 points and 3.7 rebounds per game.
The Redbirds return to Normal, Illinois for a two-game home-stand, facing Oakland (Nov.29) and Austin Peay (Dec.4).
· Oakland leads the series 3-1 after taking a 64-43 win in the season opener against the ‘Birds last season.
· Jeff Tungate finished his fourth season at the helm with a 58-62 overall record.
· The Golden Grizzlies graduated four of their five starters, returning only Nikita Telesford. Telesford saw action in 31 games and averaged 4.4 points and 3.7 rebounds.
· The Redbirds own a 1-0 record over the Governors and will face them for the first time in Redbird Arena.
· David Midlick enters his fourth season as the head coach and guided the team to a 16-14 record, going 9-9 in the Ohio Valley Conference.
· Keisha Gregory is a top returner for the Governors finishing her junior season with an average of 10.1 points per game and shot 94.5 percent from the line.
The ‘Birds finish the non-conference schedule with two home games sandwiched between road trips, facing Northern Kentucky on the road and returning home to play Maryville and St. Louis.
· Gillespie captured her first victory in Redbird Arena against the Norse last season, guiding the ‘Birds to a 49-37 victory. Northern Kentucky leads the series 4-3.
· Camryn Whitaker enters her third season at the helm and owns an 18-44 record.
· The Norse return leading scorer, Molly Glick, who averaged 12.4 points per game netting 64 triples with a .332 clip.
· This is the first time the teams will meet, but not the first time Gillespie will meet Head Coach, Collin Lanam. The two met on the court during the 2016-17 season when Lanam led the Saints to victory over Gillespie’s Lewis Flyers.
· Lanam has led Maryville for the past two seasons and has a 20-31 record.
· Ali Ringering was the leading scorer for the Saints, averaging 13.4 points per game and returns for her senior season.
· This is the first time the two programs will meet.
· Lisa Stone begins her seventh year at SLU and has led the Billikens to a 107-86 mark over the past six seasons.
· The team finished 17-16 last season and will return only one starter from the 2017-18 season.
The ‘Birds close out the non-conference schedule on the road at UMKC on Dec. 30.
· The Roos fell to the Redbirds 64-53 in a Sunday matinee last season. This will be the second time the programs will meet.
· Jacie Hoyt finished her first season at UMKC with an 11-19 overall record.
· The Roos bring back Kristen Moore, who started 29 games last season and was the team’s second leading scorer with 14.0 points per game.