NORMAL — The Illinois State women's basketball team will have six home games among its 11 nonconference contests and could meet two NCAA Tournament qualifiers from last season, first-year head coach Kristen Gillespie announced Thursday.

The season opener is Nov. 11 against Oakland at Rochester, Mich., with the home opener slated for Nov. 15 against Northern Kentucky.

Other nonconference home games are Nov. 26 against Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), Nov. 30 vs. Southern Illinois Edwardsville, Dec. 3 against Butler, Dec. 10 vs. Eastern Michigan and Dec. 17 against Cleveland State.

Joining Oakland as road contests will be Nov. 22 at George Mason, Dec. 7 at Milwaukee and Dec. 20-21 at Long Beach State's Beach Classic. ISU faces NCAA Tournament qualifier Long Beach State on Dec. 20. The 49ers were a No. 15 seed in the NCAA and lost by one point at second-seeded Oregon State.

The Redbirds will face either New Mexico State or Northeastern on Dec. 21. New Mexico State also was a No. 15 seed in the NCAA Tournament and lost to eventual Final Four participant Stanford by eight points.

ISU will play four teams from the Horizon League, potentially two from the Western Athletic Conference and one each from the Atlantic 10, Ohio Valley, Big East, Mid-American, Big West and Colonial Athletic Association.

“I think our nonconference schedule will be an excellent test for us,” Gillespie said. “It will certainly be challenging. I really like that all of our road games are against quality opponents from across the country.

"I also can't wait to see our fans come out to Redbird Arena and support us as we take strides to build this program. Our hope is that playing this type of schedule will prepare us for Missouri Valley Conference play and allow us to grow every time we step onto the court.”

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