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Women’s basketball sees schedule come to fruition with conference release

Bradley’s Caroline Waite shoots against Wright St. earlier in the season. Photo courtesy of Bradley Athletics.

This week, the Missouri Valley Conference released its newly furnished 20-game women’s basketball schedule, and the Bradley Braves are set for a chance to rebound from last year.

Winning just four games in the 2021-22 season, a facelift for the women’s basketball team is much needed. First year head coach Kate Popovec retained MVC Freshman of the Year Caroline Waite and picked up a few transfers to put together a squad ready to tackle the challenge of the MVC.

The Braves’ schedule includes home-and-home series against nine of the league’s 11 other teams, with newcomers Belmont and Murray State getting the short end of the stick. Both teams will see Bradley once; Belmont will come to Peoria, and the Braves will travel to meet the  Racers in Kentucky.

Four of Bradley’s first five games are against the top-four finishers in the conference last season, starting with a home matchup against 2021-22 MVC runner-up Northern Iowa on Dec. 30. Bradley will conclude New Year’s weekend with another home game against Drake on Jan. 1 in what will be a rematch of last year’s Hoops in the Heartland bout, where Bradley fell 71-56 in the first round.

Following the holiday, the Braves will take on the top two seeds in last season’s MVC in their respective homes. Southern Illinois and Missouri State will provide tough challenges on Jan. 5 and Jan. 7, with the encores in Renaissance Coliseum happening Feb. 10 and 12. 

Two Thursday matches versus 1-74 rival and defending MVC champion Illinois State will take place on Jan. 12 in Peoria and Feb. 2 in Normal. The Braves lost both matchups last season by less than 10 points, so they hope they can make the Bradley faithful happy and take down the defending champs.

Unlike their fellow newcomers, UIC will play two against the Braves, the first being on Jan. 27 in Chicago before the Flames travel to Peoria for the first time since 2017 on Feb. 25. Finishing 2-25 last season, including a loss to Popovec’s former team Northwestern, UIC also features a new head coach in Ashleen Bracey and added five newcomers of their own for the new year.

Rounding out their conference season, the Braves will head to Evansville to take on the Purple Aces on March 4. Their only win in the conference last year, Popovec’s squad will look to have the same success this time around.

Bradley’s full conference schedule is listed below. Times are to be released at a later date:

  • Friday, Dec. 30 vs Northern Iowa
  • Sunday, Jan. 1 vs Drake
  • Thursday, Jan. 5 at Southern Illinois
  • Saturday, Jan. 7 at Missouri State
  • Thursday, Jan. 12 vs Illinois State
  • Sunday, Jan. 15 at Murray State
  • Friday, Jan. 20 vs Evansville
  • Sunday, Jan. 22 vs Indiana State
  • Friday, Jan. 27 at Illinois-Chicago
  • Sunday, Jan. 29 at Valparaiso
  • Thursday, Feb. 2 at Illinois State
  • Sunday, Feb. 5 vs Belmont
  • Friday, Feb. 10 vs Missouri State
  • Sunday, Feb. 12 vs Southern Illinois
  • Thursday, Feb. 16 at Drake
  • Saturday, Feb. 18 at Northern Iowa
  • Thursday, Feb. 23 vs Valparaiso
  • Saturday, Feb. 25 vs Illinois-Chicago
  • Thursday, Mar. 2 at Indiana State
  • Saturday, Mar. 4 at Evansville
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