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Arkansas, Missouri highlight Missouri State's non-conference basketball schedule

By: Missouri State Sports Information

2:46 PM EDT, July 18, 2013

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- A challenging non-conference schedule awaits Missouri State women's basketball coach Kellie Harper in her first year with the program, as the Lady Bears take on a group of 11 teams that combined to win more than 60 percent of their games a season ago, headlined by 2013 NCAA runner-up Louisville.

With the addition of the Missouri Valley Conference schedule, which will be released by the league later in the summer, the Lady Bears will have a total of 16 games against 12 teams that participated in a postseason tournament in 2012-13. The non-conference schedule itself features eight games against 2013 postseason clubs, with the 11 teams on the schedule combining for a 217-136 (.615) record a season ago.

"This is a certainly a challenging schedule, but our team has worked extremely hard this summer to get ready for the season," Harper said. "This group is very motivated and coachable, and that makes me very excited for what lies ahead this year."

The Lady Bears open the 2013-14 campaign at Arkansas State on Nov. 11 before embarking on a stretch of eight consecutive games against competition that played in the postseason a year ago.

The home opener takes place Nov. 13 at JQH Arena, with Arkansas-Little Rock paying a visit after a 24-9 record last year. The Lady Bears play just one home game over the next month as a two-game swing takes them to WNIT clubs IUPUI on Nov. 17 and Arkansas on Nov. 23.

A Nov. 26 home date against Quinnipiac, which went 30-3 last season, rounds out the month before MSU heads to 2013 NCAA runner-up Louisville for a Dec. 3 showdown, then visits Eastern Kentucky two days later.

After finals week, the Lady Bears begin a three-game homestand Dec. 15 with Lamar, and host Missouri for the first time since 2004 on Dec. 19. Southeast Missouri State comes to JQH two days later before MSU wraps up the non-league slate Dec. 29 at North Texas.

Missouri State's exhibition schedule includes home games against Arkansas-Fort Smith (Oct. 31) and Maryville (Nov. 4).

Missouri State enters the 2013 season with nine returning players from last season's 14-17 club.