The Owls will host Florida on Nov. 17 in the fourth game of the season, while Georgia State will come to the KSU Convocation Center on Dec. 3. Kennesaw State will visit Georgia on Dec. 15.
“In putting this schedule together, I thought it was important to have games against good opponents that would prepare us for conference play,” said second-year Kennesaw State coach Nitra Perry. “We know that if you don’t win the conference championship, then you probably can’t go to the NCAA.”
Kennesaw State’s 11-game non-conference schedule features first-time meetings against six opponents — home against Tennessee State, Florida, Columbia and Alabama A&M, and road games at Murray State and Georgia. Three of the Owls’ opponents — Georgia, Middle Tennessee State and A-Sun champion Stetson — reached the NCAA tournament last season.
“This is the kind of schedule that, I think, will mature the girls along the way as we play some tough opponents, and we’ll get to learn valuable lessons about ourselves early in preparation for our league games,” Perry said.
Georgia went 28-7 last year and narrowly missed making the Final Four. Florida went 22-15 last season.
The Gators’ addition to Kennesaw State’s schedule came from Perry’s link to Florida assistant David Lowery, who was on the staff at Mississippi State when Perry was a player.
“We’re going to return a game to them next season and, hopefully, this is something we can get going with them for a couple of years,” Perry said.
Perry added that Kennesaw State and Georgia will play one another for at least the next three years.
The Owls will play Georgia State for the third straight season, but for the first time at home. The trip to Kennesaw will be a homecoming for Panthers coach Sharon Baldwin-Tener, a Smyrna native who played two seasons for the Owls in the late 1980s before transferring to Georgia.
“We want to compete at the highest level against the other in-state schools and keep them on the schedule as much as possible,” Perry said. “We had Georgia Tech on the schedule for a couple of seasons, and we have Georgia this year. It’s great for the fans when you can have the local and in-state schools on the schedule.”
Kennesaw State will open the season Nov. 8 at the College of Charleston, then will play its first home game against Tennessee State three days later.
The Owls will begin conference play at the Convocation Center on Jan. 2 against Jacksonville. Two days later, they will host North Florida as part of a doubleheader with the Kennesaw State men’s team.
Kennesaw State will host Florida Gulf Coast, the A-Sun’s reigning regular-season champion, on Jan. 16, with tournament champion Stetson visiting Jan. 18.
The Owls struggled in Perry’s first season, finishing 7-24 overall and 3-15 in the A-Sun.
“This conference is going to be tough, as usual,” Perry said. “We made it to the conference tournament last year, and our goal is get back there again and win some games. Stetson, North Florida, Mercer, Florida Gulf Coast, USC Update — they’re all going to be tough, but the tough games will make us better.”