RIO GRANDE, Ohio — The annual Bevo Francis Invitational Tournament and a December trip to Indiana for another tourney highlights the University of Rio Grande’s 2012-13 women’s basketball schedule released Wednesday.
The RedStorm’s 30-game slate, which features an even split of 15 games at home and 15 road contests, also includes a home-and-home series with the newest additions to the Mid-South Conference – Bluefield (Va.) College and Cumberland (Tenn.) University.
“We’re excited about the schedule we’ve put together,” said Rio Grande head coach David Smalley. “We’ve only got one senior and one junior on our roster this season, so it’s safe to say that we’re going to have an extremely young squad. I wish we had a little more time to get the newcomers ready for our conference schedule, but with four league games in November and another one on December 1st, we don’t have that luxury.”
Rio will host former America Mideast Conference rival Mount Vernon Nazarene in its season opener on Tuesday, Nov. 6, at 6 p.m., at the Newt Oliver Arena and then will face Miami University-Middletown and either WVU Tech or Wilberforce in the Bevo Francis Tournament, Nov. 9 and 10.
The tournament, which honors the most widely-recognized player in the school’s history, will serve as the centerpiece to the celebration of the 60-year anniversary of the legendary Rio Grande teams led by Francis.
“It’s a privilege to play each year in the tournament that honors Bevo and all of the feats that he accomplished during his time here at Rio Grande,” Smalley said. “We’ve lost in the championship game two of the past three years. It would be nice to win it again. Winning the Bevo means a lot to us.”
The RedStorm then dives head-long into conference play when they host Cumberland University and the University of the Cumberlands on Nov. 15 and 17, respectively, before embarking on a three-game MSC road trip which will include stops at Shawnee State (Nov. 20), UVA-Wise (Nov. 29) and the University of Pikeville (Dec. 1).
Rio then closes out the calendar year 2012 with five straight non-conference games, beginning with the Leah Whittaker Memorial Classic, hosted by Indiana Wesleyan, Dec. 7 and 8. Taylor University will provide the opposition for the first game of the event before a meeting with the host Wildcats.
Indiana Wesleyan spent 11 consecutive weeks as the top-ranked team in NAIA Division II before finishing No. 4 in the final post-season coaches’ poll.
The RedStorm will make a return trip to Mount Vernon Nazarene on Dec. 14 and venture to Cincinnati-Clermont on Dec. 18 before returning from the Christmas holiday break with a home contest against Alderson-Broaddus (W.Va.) on Dec. 29.
After January 1, Rio’s only non-conference games come against WVU Tech – at home on Jan. 19 and at Tech on Feb. 6.
Five of the RedStorm’s eight remaining January games are at home, including dates with Campbellsville and Lindsey Wilson on the 3rd and 5th, Bluefield on the 17th and versus St. Catharine and Georgetown on 24th and 26th. The RedStorm will also visit Georgetown on the 10th, St. Catharine on the 12th and Lindsey Wilson on the 31st.
In addition to the February road trek to WVU Tech, Rio will play host to Pikeville on the 21st, UVA-Wise on the 23rd and Shawnee State in the regular season finale on the 25th. Other road games during the month are at Campbellsville on the 2nd, at Bluefield on the 9th, at the University of the Cumberlands on the 14th and at Cumberland University on the 16th.
“I think our time in the Mid-South Conference has proven how tough the quality of competition is and I don’t expect anything different this year,” said Smalley, whose squad finished 17-14 overall and 6-10 in the MSC last season. “The young kids we have are going to have to grow up quick.”
The top eight teams in the 11-school MSC will advance to the conference tournament, beginning Feb. 28 at the Frankfort (Ky.) Convention Center.