Western Carolina’s women’s basketball team will play its first game of the COVID-delayed and shortened season at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 25, at UNC-Asheville.

The Lady Cats will follow that up with a trip to Duke on Nov. 29 before the home-opener Dec. 5 against Elon.

Western will play 10 non-conference contests followed by 14 Southern Conference games. League play will start Jan. 7 at Samford.

Under Gov. Roy Cooper’s Phase III COVID-19 reopening restrictions, only family members of players will be allowed to attend games in the Ramsey Center.

Senior guard Lauren LaPlant has been named to the preseason all-conference team. LaPlant broke the school record for three-pointers in a season with 80 last year. That ranked second in the league and 33rd in the nation. She started all 30 games and averaged 12 points. WCU struggled to a 5-25 record and finished last in the conference at 2-12 last season, the first for Coach Kiley Hill.

The Lady Cats are picked by the coaches and media to finish last again this year. The coaches went with Mercer, UT-Chattanooga and Samford as the top three, while the media chose UT-C, Samford and Mercer. After that, the coaches chose with Furman, UNC-Greensboro, Wofford, East Tennessee and WCU. The media had the same order for those five teams except for having Furman and UNC-G tied for fifth.

The schedule is as follows:

Nov. 25 – at UNC-Asheville; 29 – at Duke.

Dec. 5 – Elon; 13 – at Charleston Southern; 16 – at Tennessee Tech; 20 – at Georgia State; 21 – at Georgia Southern; 29 – S.C. State; 31 – Piedmont.

Jan. 4 – Southern Wesleyan; 7 – at Samford; 9 – at Mercer; 14 – Wofford; 16 – Furman; 23 – UNC-Greensboro; 28 – at UT-Chattanooga; 30 – at East Tennessee.

Feb. 4 – Mercer; 6 – Samford; 11 – at Furman; 13 – at Wofford; 20 – at UNC-G; 25 – ETSU; 27 – UT-C.

March 4,5, 7 – Southern Conference Tournament at Harrah’s Cherokee Center-Asheville.