IRVING, Texas –
The Charlotte women’s basketball team enters its first season as a returning member in Conference USA in 2013-14 and the 49ers learned of their league schedule Tuesday, as announced by the conference office. The Niners will face each of the 15 other schools once with one designated “rival” opponent to comprise the 16-game slate, which includes eight home and eight away contests. All 16 schools will compete in the same division and advance to the league tournament.
“We’re really looking forward to our first year in Conference USA,” head coach Cara Consuegra
said. “It’s going to be very challenging learning all these new teams, including teams that have been very successful. And, also with all of us that are also new. It will be a challenge but certainly one we are looking forward to.
“We get to host some great teams at home but we’re also on the road at some very challenging venues. This team is going to be challenged and hopefully get prepared for postseason play.”
The league calendar opens with back-to-back home matchups with Old Dominion (Jan. 8) and North Texas (Jan. 11). The Monarchs are one of seven postseason teams from a year ago on the 16-game docket, including one of five to reach the WNIT. Both programs are also new to Conference USA in 2013-14, arriving from the Colonial Athletic Association and Sun Belt Conference, respectively.
The two home games to start the schedule extend a homestand to four games, as Charlotte will conclude the non-conference portion just prior with Halton Arena meetings with Furman (Dec. 29) and UNC Wilmington (Jan. 3). It will mark the longest homestand of the season and under Consuegra’s watch, while also the most consecutive home contests since a four-game stretch from Dec. 2 through Dec. 12, 2009.
The 49ers will then hit the road for a trip to the Lone Star State, where they will meet up with UTSA (Jan. 15) and UTEP (Jan. 18). UTSA joins C-USA from the Western Athletic Conference this season, while UTEP is a holdover who posted a 14-3 home record a season ago. It will also give the Niners a chance to travel to El Paso ahead of the conference championships in March, similar to last year’s experience in Philadelphia at Saint Joseph’s.
Charlotte then returns home to play host to Tulane (Jan. 22) and Rice (Jan. 25), both of whom have been Conference USA members. Tulane went 24-9 overall last season, including 10-3 on the road, before advancing to the WNIT. The Green Wave will be competing in their final campaign in Conference USA and then departing for the American Athletic Conference (AAC) in 2014-15.
Four of the next five are on the road for the Niners, starting Jan. 29 in Birmingham, Ala., against UAB. It will be the first of back-to-back WNIT foes for Charlotte, which also includes an in-state trip to Greenville, N.C., to face East Carolina Feb. 1. The Pirates went 14-1 at home last season and will be joining Tulane in the AAC in 2014-15.
The lone home game in the stretch is the following Saturday, Feb. 8, when the 49ers welcome Southern Miss to town. The Golden Eagles are a familiar foe, as the two teams have met most recently in 2009, and dating back to Charlotte’s first run through Conference USA and the old Metro Conference.
The Niners are back on the trail for consecutive road outings at Louisiana Tech (Feb. 12) and Marshall (Feb. 15). Louisiana Tech is one of the pillars of women’s college basketball history, while the Thundering Herd won two-thirds of their games at home a season ago.
Charlotte will then play host to fellow league newcomer Florida Atlantic (Feb. 19) before hitting the road for Murfreesboro, Tenn., to battle Middle Tennessee three days later. The Blue Raiders won the Sun Belt regular season and tournament titles a year ago to reach the NCAA Tournament for the ninth time in the last 10 seasons.
The final home stretch will welcome FIU (Feb. 26) and Marshall (March 1) to town. The Panthers, led by the nation’s leading scorer in Jerica Coley, were a WNIT participant last March. Marshall is the designated “rival” opponent for the 49ers this season, as games will be played in both locations.
The Niners then conclude the regular season with a March 5 trip to Tulsa to face yet another NCAA Tournament foe. The Golden Hurricane won four games in four days on their home floor last year to capture the Conference USA tournament crown. Tulsa will also be competing in its final campaign as a C-USA member before departing for the AAC.
UTEP will serve as the host institution for the Conference USA Championships, which will be held March 11-15. All 16 schools will make the trek to El Paso, Texas, and early round games will be played at Memorial Gym before moving to the Don Haskins Center for later round action.
Ticket information for Charlotte home games can be obtained through the website at Charlotte49ers.com or by contacting the ticket office directly at (704) 687-4949.
Game times and promotions will be announced at a later date. 2013-14 Charlotte women’s basketball Conference USA schedule Jan. 8 – Old Dominion
Jan. 11 – North Texas
Jan. 15 – at UTSA
Jan. 18 – at UTEP Jan. 22 – Tulane
Jan. 25 – Rice
Jan. 29 – at UAB
Feb. 1 – at East Carolina Feb. 8 – Southern Miss
Feb. 12 – at Louisiana Tech
Feb. 15 – at Marshall Feb. 19 – Florida Atlantic
Feb. 22 – at Middle Tennessee Feb. 26 – FIU
March 1 – Marshall
March 5 – at Tulsa
March 11-15 – Conference USA Championships (El Paso, Texas)
Home games in bold
played inside Halton Arena