DEMOREST -- Piedmont College women's basketball coach Jamie Purdy officially released her squad's 2013-14 schedule this week.
Purdy's Lady Lions are just one season removed from a 21-5 record in 2011-12 that saw the squad garner its first national ranking in the school's NCAA era with its 2010-11 Great South Athletic Conference Championship and third NCAA tourney appearance spurring on this next generation of women's basketball at PC.
Piedmont opens with a pair of challenging exhibitions as the Lady Lions play host to Brenau University in late October before traveling just over an hour to nearby Dahlonega for a game against the University of North Georgia. UNG also faced a Division III opponent last season to open up its schedule as the Division II member of the Peach Belt Conference tallied a 14 point win over LaGrange, a familiar fellow USA South member to the Lady Lions.
After closing out its preseason, the squad will then get three of its first four opponents in the regular season at home in the friendly confines of Cave Arena located within the historic Johnny Mize Athletic Center. The Cave Crazies will be out in force as Division III rivals Centre College and Birmingham-Southern College each visit Demorest in less than a week's time while local foe Toccoa Falls College also comes to town with the first of a two-game series in 2013-14 to be played at Piedmont on November 19th.
Piedmont then hits the road to play two more members of the Southern Athletic Association after seeing Centre and Birmingham-Southern as the Lady Lions are set to participate in what's being billed as the USA South/SAA Classic. Hosted by fellow Georgia school Berry College, the challenge is set to feature Piedmont and LaGrange of the USA South and Oglethorpe and Berry from the SAA. PC plays Oglethorpe first in the action on Saturday, November 30th before turning around a little more than 24 hours later for a showdown with the host Vikings.
Eleven days of rest follows the conference vs. conference event for Piedmont who makes the short trek over to Toccoa for the second of a home-home season series with the Eagles on December 12th. The Lady Lions then see Birmingham-Southern again this time traveling to Alabama for the afternoon 2:00 pm start on December 14th. PC breaks for the holidays before hosting a holiday event for the local fans as national power Emory University will come to the Cave for an afternoon battle on December 31st to ring in the new year.
After counting down to midnight, 2014 will bring nothing but conference action for the women's basketball squad at PC as they face only USA South opponents the rest of the way. Highlighting the home events for Piedmont will be visits from Ferrum College, who ranked as high as 16th nationally last season, as well as Huntingdon College, a new conference member in 2013-14 who upset then 24th ranked Ferrum in the 2013 NCAA National Tournament. Long-time conference rivals LaGrange and Maryville also come to town with the Panthers coming February 5th for a 5:30 pm start while Maryville ends the regular season lineup for PC on February 19th.
Though hosting a pair of 2013 NCAA national tourney participants might prove to be Piedmont's toughest league tests, the Lady Lions face a daunting road slate in USA South action having to play two of its final three conference games away from home while also making a challenging weekend trip to the Carolinas early on in the league schedule. Piedmont plays Methodist University in the first of two games in North Carolina on the weekend of January 18th before turning around for the second of a back-to-back trip facing nationally respected Greensboro College the next day.
The USA South Conference Tournament Championship is set to take place over a three-day period from February 27th to March 1st at the home court of the regular season champion. Eight teams will make the championship field and 2013-14 will for sure see a new champion crowned as 2012-13 title holder Christopher Newport departs the league this season.
Though Piedmont will be looking to return to the top of the league, the Lady Lions will have do so in a new setting as the school made the transition to the USA South Athletic Conference this past academic year. PC felt the effect of losing its first Division III All-American in Sada Wheeler ('12) this past season finishing with a sub-.500 overall record for just the second time under Purdy. The veteran coach is no stranger to retooling her roster to come back even stronger as she has twice come back to win more than 20 games following seasons where her teams did reach that win barrier in her Piedmont coaching career.