Memphis, TN-Three appearances on ESPNU and eight games against five different teams that made the 2013 NCAA tournament highlight the University of Memphis women’s basketball team’s first-ever American Athletic Conference schedule released, Wednesday.
Memphis will appear on ESPNU in road games at Louisville (Jan. 26) and Temple (Feb. 9) and will host Louisville in a home game on ESPNU (Feb. 16). The three appearances on one of the ESPN networks mark the first Tigers’ appearance on the network since 2001 and marks the first season the Tigers will have multiple games played on an ESPN channel.
The Tigers will play eight regular season games against five teams that appeared in the 2013 NCAA tournament, including home-and-home contests against both teams from the 2013 NCAA Championship game, Connecticut and Louisville, and a home-and-home conference series against USF, an NCAA second round participant last season. In non-conference play, Memphis will face Texas A&M and Syracuse (both NCAA teams) and will play two non-conference road games at foes who appeared in their respective conference’s tournament championship games (at UALR, Nov. 22, and at Tennessee Tech, Dec. 14).
“This is probably the most challenging schedule in our history of Memphis women’s basketball,” Head Coach Melissa McFerrin said. “But with that challenge, also comes great opportunity. It gives us an opportunity to show our young team what the elite of women’s basketball looks like, and over time, we will rise to meet that challenge.”
After playing three of their first four games against regional foes East Tennessee State (Nov. 8) and Samford (Nov. 10), the Tigers will return a game at Wright State (Nov. 15) before hosting another regional foe, Jackson State (Nov. 18). Memphis then hits a tough slate of opponents, beginning with a road game at UALR (Nov. 22), a 24-9 WNIT team from last season. After the road contest, the Tigers will wing to the US Virgin Islands to participate in the 2013 Paradise Jam. There, the Tigers will play three games in three nights at the Paradise Jam tournament, opening with back-to-back games against teams that appeared in the 2012 NCAA tournament. The Tigers face Texas A&M (Nov. 28) before squaring off with Syracuse (Nov. 29), then wrap their three-games-in-three-days slate with a clash against Big 12 foe Texas (Nov. 30).
Memphis will then spend most of the month of December in the friendly confines of the Bluff City, hosting UAB (Dec. 7), Mississippi Valley State (Dec. 18), and Arkansas-Pine Bluff (Dec. 20). Those three home games will sandwich a road trip to in-state foe Tennessee Tech (Dec. 14), a team that made it to the Ohio Valley Conference finals last year.
The Tigers open American Athletic Conference play in December, welcoming Temple, Dec. 29th, for the Tigers’ first-ever American Athletic Conference contest.
The Tigers’ January slate opens on Jan. 4th, when defending national champion UConn comes to the Bluff City for the first-ever meeting between the two programs. Memphis then goes on the road to face a familiar pair of league foes, playing at SMU (Jan. 7) and UCF (Jan. 11), before returning home to welcome Rutgers, guided by legendary coach C. Vivian Stringer (Jan. 14), and Houston (Jan. 18). The Tigers then play back-to-back road games against both teams from the 2013 NCAA Championship game, playing at UConn (Jan. 22) and at Louisville (Jan. 26), before closing January at home against UCF (Jan. 31).
February opens with three of four games on the road. Memphis returns a trip to Rutgers (Feb. 1), then hosts USF, another 2013 NCAA tournament team, for the first time since 2005 on Feb. 5. The Tigers then make a trip to the University of Cincinnati (Feb. 12), before returning home to host Louisville (Feb. 16) in a nationally-televised game on ESPNU. Memphis closes out the month with a home game against SMU (Feb. 22) and a road game in Tampa at USF (Feb. 25).
The regular season wraps with a road game at Houston (Mar. 1) and a home contest against Cincinnati (Mar. 3) before the Tigers venture to Uncasville, Conn., to participate in the inaugural American Athletic Conference tournament at the Mohegan Sun Arena, Mar. 7-10th.
Memphis returns seven letterwinners from last year’s WNIT team, but none with more than one year in the Tigers’ blue and gray. Seniors Pa’Sonna Hope and Devin Mack both transferred to Memphis last season and will be relied on to help lead a four-member sophomore class that saw some significant playing time last season. Guard Ariel Hearn was a C-USA All-Freshman team honoree after finishing the season as the team’s second-leading scorer (13.8 ppg) and the team’s assist leader, with 109 assists on the season. Hearn will be joined by fellow sophomores Asianna Fuqua-Bey (6.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg), Jaymie Jackson (3.9 ppg, 1.9 rpg) and Courtney Powell and should gain some offensive help with the return of now-redshirt freshman Mooriah Rowser to the Tigers’ lineup. Rowser was the team’s second-leading scorer with 12.0 ppg last season before suffering a season-ending knee injury in Memphis’ third game of the season, a road win at Illinois State in the preseason WNIT.
That sophomore class is joined by a three-member freshman class in 2013-14 – Brandi Goodman, Breigha Wilder-Cochran and Taylor Williams.