The Sun Belt Conference released the 2018-19 women's basketball schedule on Tuesday. The league features some changes to the schedule/tournament format beginning this season.
Schedules will follow an 18-game mirror setup. Both genders of a program will face both genders of another program on the same date – but at opposite venues. Games will be played on Thursday and Saturday.
Also, a change has been made to the Sun Belt Championships beginning this season, where 10 teams can earn a berth in each bracket, but with only eight making it to New Orleans' Lakefront Arena (the 2018 tournaments were contested with all 12 teams present at Lakefront Arena). For both the men's and women's tournaments, two opening round games will be played on campus with the No. 7 seed hosting the No. 10 seed and the No. 8 seed hosting the No. 9 seed. The No. 1 seed and No. 2 seed will receive byes to semifinals and the No. 3 seed and No. 4 seed to earn byes to the quarterfinals.
App State finished 5-13 last season in conference play but captured a first round Sun Belt Tournament win for the second straight season after a 79-68 victory over No. 8 seed Arkansas State.
Appalachian will have a tough stretch to begin the conference slate, as it faces four of the top five seeds from the 2018 Sun Belt Championship.
Five of the first seven contests will take place at home with App kicking off league action at the Holmes Center against South Alabama on Thursday, Jan. 3 before welcoming Troy to the High Country two days later.
The following weekend, App State will make the trek to Texas to face UT Arlington on Thursday, Jan. 10 followed by a matchup against second-place finisher and the Sun Belt Tournament runner-up, Texas State on Saturday, Jan 12.
After a bye on the ensuing Thursday, The Black and Gold will begin a three-game homestand, starting with Coastal Carolina on Saturday, Jan. 19.
Five days later, Appalachian will face Arkansas State on Thursday, Jan. 24 for the first time since the Sun Belt Tournament. The Mountaineers went 2-1 last season against the Red Wolves. App closes the home stretch with a showdown against the defending Sun Belt regular season and tournament champions, Little Rock on Saturday, Jan. 26.
The Mountaineers will travel to the Bayou State for matchups against Louisiana (Thursday, Jan. 31) and UL Monroe two days after (Saturday, Feb. 2) for the first game of February.
Home matchups against Texas State on Thursday, Feb. 7 and UT Arlington on Saturday, Feb. 9 opens the second half of the conference schedule.
App closes out the regular season with five of the last seven games away from home. Appalachian starts the road swing with Coastal Carolina on Saturday, Feb. 16 after a Thursday bye. Waiting App is a Feb. 21 affair against Georgia State before invading Statesboro for a Feb. 23 battle against archrival Georgia Southern. The Mountaineers swept the season series against the Georgia schools including a 31-point win over the Eagles.
Concluding the home schedule will be the Warhawks on Thursday, Feb. 28 before hosting the Ragin' Cajuns on Saturday, Feb. 2. App concludes the regular season with the Trojans on Thursday, March 7 and Jaguars on March 9 in Alabama.
Times for all conference games will be announced by each institution at a later date. App State's non-conference slate will also be released at a later date.
App State returns a loaded squad that was the least experienced in the league, as it was the only team in the conference not to start a junior or senior. All 10 letterwinners including its leading scorers in Pre Stanley and Tierra Wilson, and All-Sun Belt Third Team selection, Bayley Plummer, returns. Madi Story, who was Preseason All-First Team Sun Belt, will return following a torn ACL. UCF transfer Ashley Polacek is eligible after sitting out due to NCAA transfer rules.