Eagles set to tip-off 2018-19 with busy slate

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University of Southern Indiana Women’s Basketball begins the 2018-19 campaign Friday at 6 p.m. (CST) when it travels to Midland, Michigan, to take on Midwest Region foe and host Northwood University in the GLVC/GLIAC Challenge.

The Screaming Eagles also visit Midwest Region opponent Saginaw Valley State University Sunday at noon in University Center, Michigan. Both games will be aired on 95.7 The Spin, while live stats, audio and video can be accessed at GoUSIEagles.com.

This weekend begins a busy slate for a USI team that was ranked No. 19 in the Division II Bulletin preseason poll and receiving votes outside the WBCA Division II Top 25 Preseason Poll.

USI begins the year by playing seven games in a 17-day span, including its home-opener against Lincoln Memorial University November 14 at 6 p.m. at the Physical Activities Center.

The Eagles also host Ferris State University November 16 and Indiana University Kokomo November 20 before hosting the four-team USI Thanksgiving Classic November 24-25.

Women’s Basketball Game Notes
Eagles in the polls. USI Women’s Basketball was ranked No. 19 in the Division II Bulletin preseason poll and was receiving votes in the preseason WBCA Division II Top 25 Coaches’ Poll.

USI picked third in GLVC Preseason Poll. GLVC coaches predicted a third-place conference finish for USI Women’s Basketball in 2018-19 according to the league’s annual preseason poll. USI received 155 points and one first-place vote, trailing GLVC favorites Lewis (175 points/7 first-place vote) and Drury (174 points/6 first-place votes). The Eagles are 32-4 in league play during the last two seasons and are coming off back-to-back GLVC East Division championships.

What’s new in 2018-19? USI Women’s Basketball’s returns a pair of starters and nine players from last year’s NCAA II Tournament team, including four seniors. The Eagles also add a talented recruiting class that includes sophomore guard Kennedy Williams, freshman forward Ashlynn Brown and freshman guard Samantha LaPlaca. Williams brings a year of collegiate experience from Bowling Green, while Brown and LaPlaca both played their high school ball in Ohio.

Big losses. While USI gains a talented recruiting class, the Eagles will have to replace 56.5 percent of their scoring and 46.0 percent of their rebounding output with the graduations of Morgan Dahlstrom, Kaydie Grooms and Randa Harshbarger. Grooms and Dahlstrom led USI with 17.8 and 16.5 points per game, respectively, while Dahlstrom led the GLVC with 9.9 rebounds per contest. The trio helped lead USI to an 89-30 overall record and a 54-18 mark in GLVC play during their four-year careers. They played in a combined 338 games, recording 3,164 points, 1,557 rebounds, 701 assists, 141 blocks and 472 steals.

Top returners. Senior center Kacy Eschweiler is USI’s leading returning scorer and rebounder in 2018-19. Eschweiler averaged 8.6 points and 5.3 rebounds per game a year ago, earning third-team All-GLVC accolades in the process. Senior guard Alex Davidson became a fulltime starter as a junior and averaged a career-high 8.2 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists per contest.

About Northwood. The Timberwolves were 17-11 overall and 12-8 in GLIAC play a year ago. Much like USI has to do this year, Northwood has to replace its top three scorers from last year’s squad. Senior center Grace German is the Timberwolves top returner after averaging 6.9 points and 5.9 rebounds per game in 2017-18. Sophomore guard Kenzie Seely averaged 12.5 points and 4.0 assists per game to lead Northwood in its exhibition losses to Central Michigan (74-61) and Indiana (78-52).

About Saginaw Valley. The Cardinals were 6-21 overall and 6-14 in GLIAC play a year ago after qualifying for the NCAA II Tournament in 2016-17. SVSU returns seven players, including its top three scorers from a year ago. Sophomore guard Laurel Jacqmain averaged 13.6 points and 6.3 rebounds per game to lead the Cardinals last year.

Looking back. The Eagles went 26-5 overall and advanced to the NCAA II Tournament for the 10th time in program history a year ago. USI rolled to their second straight GLVC East Division title, matching their 16-2 league mark from the previous year, before falling in the championship game of the GLVC Tournament.

What’s ahead? A challenging schedule that has the Eagles playing 26 regional games as well as bouts against the defending national champion Central Missouri and national runner-up Ashland. USI’s opponents in 2018-19 posted a combined 382-276 (.581) record last year, with five of those opponents playing in the NCAA II Tournament.

USI against this year’s opponents. The Eagles went 18-5 against the teams on this year’s schedule and are 238-224 all-time against the teams on their 2018-19 slate.

GLVC Tournament Points Rating System returns. The 2018-19 GLVC schedule, consisting of 18 games, is a non-divisional format, meaning the Eagles play their travel partner—Bellarmine—twice as well as four other GLVC teams twice. There will be no divisions and the standings will once again be based off of the GLVC Tournament Points Rating System, with the top eight teams qualifying for the league’s post-season tournament.

Home sweet home. USI has 16 home games in 2018-19 after posting a perfect 15-0 record at the Physical Activities Center a year ago. It was the third perfect home record in program history after USI was 15-0 at the PAC in 1996-97 and 14-0 in 2000-01. Dating back to the 2016-17 campaign, USI has won 21 straight home games.

Stein earns GLVC Coach of Year honors again. USI Head Coach Rick Stein was named the Chuck Mallander GLVC Coach of the Year for the second consecutive season and the third time in his career last March. He led the Eagles to a 24-3 overall record and a 16-2 mark in GLVC play during the regular season after the Eagles lost five seniors from a team that was 24-5 overall and 16-2 in GLVC play in 2016-17.

USI reaches 25-win plateau. The Eagles have reached the 25-win plateau for the second time in four years and the sixth time in program history. USI has reached the 25-win plateau four times under Stein.

USI in the Top 25. USI finished the year ranked No. 18 in the final USA Today Sports/NCAA Division II Coaches’ Poll. The Eagles were No. 18 in the final Division II Media Poll and were ranked No. 11 in the final Herosports.com Division II rankings and No. 15 in the Massey Ratings.

Perfect home record. USI posted its third perfect home record in program history as it went 15-0 at the PAC in 2017-18. The Eagles also were 15-0 at the PAC when they advanced to the NCAA II championship game in 1996-97 and 14-0 when they earned their second trip to the NCAA II Elite Eight in 2000-01.

• Record book watch. One player is currently in USI’s record books:
Kacy Eschweiler is 15th in blocks (55).

Magic Mark: 75 points. The Eagles are 401-75 (.842) all-time when scoring at least 75 points. USI is 274-26 (.913) since 1996-97 when reaching the 75-point plateau.

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