LSU, Stanford highlight challenging UCSB women’s basketball schedule

The UCSB women’s basketball team faces a challenging schedule for the 2014-15 season as it plays 12 teams that made the postseason last season.

A marquee game on the home schedule is a Dec. 19 date with LSU. The Lady Tigers reached the Sweet Sixteen last year. The Gauchos also play national power Stanford on the road. The Cardinal was a Final Four participant.

“Obviously, this will be a challenging schedule for our young team with multiple postseason teams from last year,” head coach Carlene Mitchell said. “But we’re excited to give our fans the opportunity to see us compete with elite caliber teams from BCS conferences.”

2014-15 SCHEDULE

The Gauchos will make their debut on Nov. 9 with a home exhibition game against Occidental College before officially opening the 2014-15 campaign at Nevada on Nov. 14.

Three days later on Monday Nov. 17, the Gauchos play their home opener against Idaho, last season’s Western Athletics Conference champion. They follow that with a Nov. 20 home game against Santa Clara.

Following a road swing through Arizona to play Northern Arizona (Nov. 23) and the University of Arizona (Nov. 25), UCSB will return home to face Army for the first time ever. The Black Knights earned an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament after winning the Patriot League. The game will also mark just the second time in history that the program has played a U.S. service academy. UCSB previously beat Air Force 65-57 back in 1981.

The Gauchos then face Washington State on Dec. 4. WSU competed in the WNIT last season.

After a stop at San Diego State (Dec. 7), the Gauchos return to the Thunderdome to play Pepperdine on Dec. 12 and LSU on Dec. 19. UCSB has played the Waves twice in the Carlene Mitchell era and has won both contests. LSU has competed in the NCAA Tournament 24 times, including a Sweet Sixteen berth a year ago.

UCSB will wrap up its nonconference schedule with a three-game road trip to powerhouse Stanford (Dec. 28), Seattle (Dec. 31), and CSU Bakersfield (Jan. 6). The game against the Cardinal will be the team’s first trip to Palo Alto since the 2006-07 season when Stanford successfully defended their home floor with an 84-59 win. Last season, Stanford danced its way to the Final Four before falling to the eventual national champion Connecticut. Bakersfield is coming off its first-ever WNIT berth.

UCSB opens Big West play against Cal Poly at the Thunderdome on Jan. 10. This is the third time in four years that the Gauchos will tip-off Big West play with its rival. UCSB will follow up that game on Thursday, Jan. 15 when they will take on Long Beach State.

Conference opponents Cal State Northridge, Cal Poly and Hawaii all made the postseason. Northridge went to the NCAA Tournament after winning the Big West Tournament, while Cal Poly and Hawaii were invited to the WNIT.