BROOKINGS – Six home games and a total of six contests against fellow NCAA Tournament qualifiers from a year ago highlight a challenging nonconference portion of the South Dakota State women's basketball team's schedule for the upcoming 2019-20 season.
The Jackrabbits, who last season made their first appearance in the Sweet 16 after reaching the tournament for the ninth time in 11 years, return three starters to a squad that compiled a 28-7 record during the 2018-19 campaign and won both Summit League regular-season and postseason tournament titles.
"This will be another exciting and challenging non-league schedule," said SDSU coach Aaron Johnston, who is entering his 20th season at the helm of the Jackrabbits' program. "We play a number of postseason-caliber teams at home and on the road, which helps us continue to move our program forward. We are looking forward to getting back on the court and building on the excitement of last year's NCAA Tournament run."
SDSU tips off the season with a home exhibition game Oct. 30 against St. Cloud State, before embarking on a road trip. The 2019-20 opener is set for Nov. 8 at NCAA qualifier Drake, with the two-game swing ending Nov. 12 at Creighton.
New to the schedule this season is the Jackrabbits' first-ever game at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, which will take place Nov. 15 at 8 p.m., when SDSU takes on Dakota Wesleyan. The Tigers have made consecutive NAIA Final Four appearances, including winning the national championship during the 2017-18 season.
The Jackrabbits' regular-season home opener is slated for Nov. 21 versus Montana State, with a Nov. 23 game against Wyoming wrapping up the homestand.
As announced earlier, the Jackrabbits play three games in Cancun, Mexico, over the Thanksgiving holiday from Nov. 28-30, facing South Florida, Notre Dame and Florida Gulf Coast in succession. Notre Dame advanced to the national championship game last season, while Florida Gulf Coast also played in the NCAA Tournament. South Florida was a participant in the WNIT.
"Our Thanksgiving trip to Cancun will be a fun event for our fans, families, and young women in our program.," Johnston said. "We will play exceptional competition and enjoy a fantastic ocean resort over the holiday weekend."
In December, the Jackrabbits are home for four games, starting with a Dec. 5 matchup versus Coppin State. SDSU welcomes Chattanooga to Frost Arena on Dec. 11, and concludes the home portion of its nonconference schedule with games against NCAA Tournament qualifiers Central Michigan (Dec. 14) and Marquette (Dec. 17).
Closing out the non-league schedule are road games at Oregon (Dec. 8) and Green Bay (Dec. 21). The Jackrabbits met Oregon twice last season, dropping a hard-fought 87-79 decision at Frost Arena last December before falling in the rematch, 63-53, in a Sweet 16 game played in Portland, Oregon. The Ducks went on to reach the Final Four, losing to eventual national champion Baylor in the national semifinals.
Green Bay played in the WNIT, along with Wyoming, giving SDSU a total of nine nonconference games – out of 13 – against teams that played in a Division I postseason event.
Game times will be announced at a later date. Season tickets that cover all Jackrabbit men's and women's basketball home games start at $150 and are currently available through the Jackrabbit Ticket Office and online at JackrabbitTickets.com. Single-game tickets for SDSU's home games, as well as the Nov. 15 game at the Sanford Pentagon, are slated to go on sale Oct. 1.
Summit League action begins Dec. 29 at Omaha.