With head coach Kristen Gillespie entering her second season at the helm for Illinois State women’s basketball, her team will still face many familiar opponents in 2018. 

The Redbirds will rematch with seven non-conference games from last season, including a date at Southern Illinois-Edwardsville to open the regular season. 

Illinois State introduced its non-conference schedule Wednesday and will play North Dakota for the first time in its home opener on Wednesday, Nov. 14.

"We will be tested early on in the season with this non-conference schedule and I'm confident that we'll be ready to meet these challenges before starting conference play," Gillespie said. 

Her squad will also meet last season’s foes Eastern Michigan, Cleveland State, Butler, Oakland, Northern Kentucky and Missouri-Kansas City. 

The Redbirds will face first-time opponents Maryville and St. Louis, while meeting Austin Peay for just the second time in program history. 

"Our schedule is challenging yet balanced for us this season. I am excited about the competition we will face on the road, as well as the quality of teams we will bring to Redbird Arena,” Gillespie said. 

Illinois State will return four starters: MVC Newcomer of the Year Simone Goods, Paige Saylor, Katrina Beck and Viria Livingston, while bringing in six new players to the program.

“Our fans will see lots of new faces on the floor this year but we like how this team is working together this off-season in preparation for the start of the new season,” Gillespie said. “Our returners have done a great job setting the culture and the newcomers have been very quick to learn. This is a very competitive team and they are steady to face the challenges of our schedule.”

The Redbirds finished 14-16 last season and 6-5 in non-conference games. Of those non-conference matchups, they went 4-3 against teams they will face this season.

KADE HEATHER is Sports Editor for The Vidette. He can be contacted at vidette_kfheat1@ilstu.edu. Follow him on Twitter at @kade_heather

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