LEWISBURG, Pa. – Bucknell, the defending champion in Patriot League women’s basketball, has announced its 2017-18 schedule. In his sixth season as head coach of the Bison, two of which have culminated with Patriot League Coach of the Year honors, Aaron Roussell is again set to match up his team with a formidable set of opponents that includes six games against teams that made national postseason tournaments last season and one that plays in a Power Five conference.
"We are very excited about this coming year's schedule,” said Roussell, who enters the season with 101-56 record at Bucknell. “We have tried over the years to get some of the best mid-major teams from our area onto the calendar and feel very confident that we have done so."
Eight of Bucknell’s 11 non-conference opponents have played in a national postseason tournament within the past two seasons, including two – St. Bonaventure and Iona – that made the NCAA Tournament in 2016. Rider, Akron, Saint Joseph’s, Drexel, and Fordham all appeared in the WNIT in the past two years, while Youngstown State advanced to the semifinals of the 2016 Women’s Basketball Invitational. One of the three teams that hasn’t been in a tournament during that span is Pitt, which has to endure a rugged ACC schedule each season.
Bucknell opens the season on the road when it travels to play Rider on Friday, Nov. 10. The Broncs went 24-9 last season, closing the year with a loss to Virginia Tech in the WNIT First Round. The Bison then return home for back-to-back games at Sojka Pavilion. They open the home campaign against Akron on Sunday, Nov. 12, when they will raise the 2017 Patriot League champions banner, and then host Saint Joseph’s on Wednesday, Nov. 15. The Zips made four straight postseason appearances between 2012-16, and the Hawks ended the 2017 season with a loss to Virginia in the WNIT First Round. The Bison have beaten Akron in each of the past two years and edged Saint Joseph’s last year.
A highly anticipated rematch awaits Bucknell on Saturday, Nov. 18, when it travels to Philadelphia for a game against Drexel. The Bison rolled to a 10-point win over the Dragons last season just one game after the Dragons had upset nationally-ranked Syracuse. Drexel went on to post a 22-11 record, beat Duquesne in the WNIT First Round, and saw its season end with a loss to Villanova in the Second Round.
The Bison are back at Sojka Pavilion on Tuesday, Nov. 21, against St. Bonaventure and then head to Ohio for a game against Youngstown State on Friday, Nov. 24. That will make six straight opponents to open the season that appeared in a national postseason tournament within the past two years.
The final two home games of the non-conference portion of the schedule are against Canisius on Sunday, Nov. 26, and Binghamton on Wednesday, Nov. 29.
Bucknell wraps up the non-conference schedule with three straight road games – at Iona (Dec. 3), at Fordham (Dec. 17), and at Pitt (Dec. 20). Fordham beat Georgetown in the WNIT First Round last season and then fell to Penn State.
The game against Pitt will be Bucknell’s 10th against an opponent from a Power Five conference during Roussell’s time with the team. During that time, the Bison have played Pitt (2013), Virginia Tech (2013), Penn State (2013), Michigan twice (2014, 2016), Notre Dame (2015), North Carolina (2016), Rutgers (2016), and Maryland (2017).
"I am excited to get to New York City, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with our team this year,” Roussell said. “There are a lot of Bucknell alums and fans in those areas and we want to make it a point to get to their turf as much as we can. The game at Pitt will be a nice chance for junior Kaitlyn Slagus to get a homecoming game in front of her friends and family, and a chance for everyone else to get to play in another Power Five arena.”
Bucknell opens the Patriot League schedule with road games at American (Dec. 29) and at Boston University (Jan. 2). The Bison will play Sojka Pavilion for the first time in over a month when they host Army West Point on Friday, Jan. 5. As always, the league schedule includes a home-and-home series with each of the other nine teams. The Bison are 33-3 in league play over the past two seasons.
"The Patriot League portion of the slate will undoubtedly be a challenge again this season,” Roussell said. “There is a lot of firepower returning in the league, and just about every team will be stronger than what they were last year."
Bucknell won the 2017 Patriot League title while also setting a program record in wins with a mark of 27-6. The Bison went on to earn a No. 14 seed in the NCAA Tournament, where they lost to No. 3 Maryland in the First Round.
Season tickets for Bucknell women's basketball home games at Sojka Pavilion are now on sale through the Campus Box Office. Tickets may be purchased in advance online, over the telephone at 570-577-1000, or in person at the Campus Box Office.
The Bison have won 29 straight games at Sojka Pavilion. That ranks as the third active longest home winning streak in the nation behind Connecticut and UCLA.