WACO, Texas -- The seven-time defending Big 12 regular season champion Baylor women's basketball program announced its nonconference schedule on Wednesday afternoon. The Lady bears will host eight home games inside the Ferrell Center, including two exhibition games and a marquee matchup against Kentucky for the annual Big 12/SEC Challenge.
Baylor will get a jump start with home exhibition contests against Tarleton State on Oct. 31 and Washburn on Nov. 6, before opening regular season play at home against Lamar on Nov. 10. Lamar returns 10, including Southland Newcomer of the Year Moe Kinard and Southland Defensive Player of the Year Chastadie Barrs, from its squad that finished third in conference standings last season.
Two more home games follow the opener, as the Lady Bears take on Coppin State and Central Arkansas on Nov. 12 and Nov. 14, respectively. The Eagles finished with an 8-21 record, while the Sugar Bears posted a 26-5 mark. Central Arkansas has made three consecutive NCAA Tournaments, winning the last two Southland Conference tournament championships.
A matchup at UCLA on Nov. 18 follows the five-game home stand. Ten returners are back for the Bruins, who finished fourth in a deep Pac-12 Conference, a conference which set a record with seven teams qualifying for NCAA Tournament competition. The teams met in Waco last season, as the Lady Bears secured an 84-70 result against the then-ranked No. 9 Bruins.
From there, Baylor will remain on the road to compete in the Junkanoo Division of the Junkanoo Jam in Bimini, Bahamas. The Lady Bears open tournament action with a Nov. 23 matchup against Missouri State and have the potential to meet Penn or Georgia Tech in their second game scheduled for Nov. 25. Penn defeated Princeton to claim its first Ivy League tournament championship and its third NCAA Tournament bid in the last four years last season. The Quakers, who also won the Ivy League regular season championship, fell short of an upset of Texas A&M in the first round, 63-61.
Fan travel packages and ticket information for the Junkanoo Jam are currently available at junkanoojam.com/travel.
The Lady Bears return to the Ferrell Center to host Kentucky in the annual Big 12/SEC Challenge on Nov. 30. The Wildcats, who return nine of 11 eligible players from last year, advanced to the second round in their eighth-straight NCAA Tournament before bowing out to Ohio State. The teams are an even, 2-2, all-time and have had some tight matchups in the past, including a four-overtime contest in 2012. Baylor won the most recent contest, defeating Kentucky, 74-64, in 2014 in Lexington, Ky.
Home matchups against North Dakota and McNeese State follow on Dec. 5 and Dec. 13, respectively, before Baylor heads to the New Orleans Shootout. The Lady Bears are slated to meet South Florida on Dec. 20 and Mississippi Valley State on Dec. 21 in the tournament hosted in New Orleans, La. South Florida secured its 13th NCAA Tournament appearance after finishing 24-9 overall and third in the American Athletic Conference with an 11-5 record. The Bulls boast 10 returners from last season, including four starters.
Times and television information for nonconference matchups will be determined at a later date, however tickets are available for purchase now. To reserve seats, contact the Baylor Athletics Ticket Office at 254-710-1000 during business hours or purchase tickets online anytime at baylorbears.com/tickets. The Big 12 Conference schedule will also be released at a later date.
Baylor returns six letterwinners, including junior All-American post Kalani Brown, senior guard Kristy Wallace and sophomore post Lauren Cox, who earned Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year recognition last season. Brown led the squad in scoring, rebounding, shot blocking and field goal percentage, while Wallace paced the team in assists.
The Lady Bears, who have advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight in each of the last four seasons, bolstered their roster with the No. 4-ranked recruiting class comprised of guards Alexis Morris, Trinity Oliver, Didi Richards and Moon Ursin.
Baylor has secured berths to 14-straight NCAA Tournaments and 16 overall under the direction of 18th-year head coach Kim Mulkey. The Lady Bears won their seven consecutive Big 12 regular season championship with a 17-1 conference mark and posted a 33-4 record overall last season. In the last seven seasons, Baylor has won six Big 12 tournament championships.