Opinion: Division I women’s basketball games to watch


Photo by Quinton Watt

Takiya Howard, sophomore guard, shows her skills with a layup at the 2022 Midnight Madness event Thursday.

Eric Reynolds, Sports Writer

The women’s basketball team is getting ready to begin its first Division I season. More well known teams are on the schedule.

Basketball fans should be on the lookout for these games:

Oakland City University, Nov. 7:

The first home game as a DI program is against fellow Southern Indiana school, Oakland City University Nov. 7 at 6 p.m. CST. 

OCU’s women’s basketball team is returning from a 19-13 season where they reached the third round of the NCCAA tournament.

The last meeting between USI and Oakland City was when USI won 100-70 in the 2005-2006 season.

Overall, these teams have played against each other four different times. USI has a record of 4-0 with an average margin of victory of 31 points.

Local connections: 

OCU has multiple players from the Evansville area, including Kyrisha Hay, Aysha Lindsey, Gabrielle Joyner and Amaya Thomas. They played at Castle High School, Benjamin Bosse High School, Evansville North High School and Evansville Central High School respectively. 

Northern Illinois University, Nov. 15:

The Screaming Eagles will make the trip to DeKalb, Illinois, to face off against the Huskies Nov. 15 at 11 a.m. CST. 

NIU went 14-15 last season as a member of the Mid-American Conference and finished 11-9 in league play. 

While the record might not be outstanding, the Huskies were 10-3 at home last season. With the Screaming Eagles heading to DeKalb, it will be an early test for the team. 

Local connections:

NIU is coached by Lisa Carlsen, who is entering her eighth season at NIU. Carlsen formerly coached at Lewis University, USI’s old Great Lakes Valley Conference rival, for eight seasons. During her time at Lewis University, she led the team to a 148-89 record along with two GLVC championships and four NCAA Division II tournament appearances. Carlsen had a 7-4 record against USI in her time at Lewis University. 

Murray State University, Dec. 3:

The team will face the Racers of Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky, Dec. 3 at 2 p.m. CST.

Murray State is coming off an impressive 22-10 season in the Ohio Valley Conference before transferring this offseason to the Missouri Valley Conference.

Murray State made it to the semifinals of the OVC Tournament before bowing out to Tennessee Tech University at Ford Center in Downtown Evansville. Murray State made the National Invitation Tournament but was eliminated by Vanderbilt University.

Local connections:

USI gained transfer Takiya Howard, sophomore guard, who played last season at Murray State. Howard played in 14 games. 

Murray State is the toughest team USI will play according to last season’s record. They will give USI a good idea of what they are going to be facing when conference games come around as Murray State finished third in the conference last year.

Butler University, Dec. 7:

The Eagles will travel to Indianapolis, Indiana, to take on the Bulldogs of Butler University Dec. 7 at 6 p.m. CST.

Butler is returning from a 1-27 season with their only win against the University of Evansville. 

Butler plays in the Big East Conference and went 0-18 in league play last season. Their season ended in the first round of the Big East Tournament after losing to Seton Hall University. 

The Bulldogs made a splash in the offseason by bringing in Austin Parkinson as their new head coach. Parkinson is the all-time winningest coach in Indiana University Purdue University-Indianapolis history by building a 224-141 record with NCAA tournament appearances and six trips to the National Invitation Tournament. 

Eastern Michigan University, Dec. 10:

The Screaming Eagles will travel to Ypsilanti, Michigan, to take on Eastern Michigan University Dec. 10 at 12 p.m. CST. 

EMU returned from a 7-20 season and a 4-16 Mid-American Conference record. The Screaming Eagles have two MAC teams on their schedule, the other being NIU.

Three of their five starters are returning to the team from last season, including Ce’Nara Skanes, redshirt junior forward, Lachelle Austin, sophomore guard, and Natalia Pineda, senior guard.

University of Cincinnati, Dec. 18:

The Screaming Eagles will make the trip to Cincinnati, Ohio, Dec. 18 at 1 p.m. CST to play the University of Cincinnati’s Bearcats.

UC is returning from an 11-17 season and a 4-11 record in the American Athletic Conference.

The UC Bearcats will play Lindenwood University and Tennessee Tech University, two other OVC schools, before they take on USI. These games will be important in evaluating the talent of the OVC the team will face this season. 

One of the Bearcats’ biggest strengths is perimeter defense. Last season, they held opponents to 30% shooting from behind the arc. USI did not shoot particularly well from 3-point range last season and finished with 31.3% shooting.

These non-conference games will be valuable for this team as they prepare for a tough OVC schedule. If USI wants to compete in their first season in the OVC, they will need to show promise in these games. Check out the rest of the Screaming Eagles’ schedule here.