Faced with opening the season against one of the nation's top 20 basketball teams, Northeastern A&M's No. 18 Lady Norse host the 22nd-rated Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College Lady Ravens tonight.

Tipoff is at 6 p.m. in the NEO Student Activities Center.

“We want to come out and build on the things that we've been able to accomplish during our preseason scrimmages,” Lady Norse head coach Jim Rowland said. “It's almost like we're starting where we finished last season in the national tournament.”

Last season the Lady Norse (25-8) suffered a 58-47 loss to Copiah-Lincoln, Miss. to finish eighth in the National Junior College Athletic Association national tournament at Salina, Kan.

The Lady Norse finished second in the Eastern Division of the Bi-State Athletic Conference with a 6-2 record and the won the Region II title with a 71-66 victory over Northern Oklahoma-Tonkawa.

“We've had a very solid preseason against some very competitive junior college teams,” Rowland said. “But, everything we do from here on out counts.”

Fifth-year head coach Emily Washburn has guided the Lady Ravens to a 1-0 season record following a 103-60 drubbing of Butler (Kan.) Community College Saturday evening in Coffeyville's Nellis Hall.

Washburn has an overall record of 98-33 (.748 winning percentage) in her first four seasons. She was KJCCC Eastern Conference coach of the year in 2004 and 2007.

Last season, Washburn led the Red Ravens to a conference championship with a 17-1 mark in conference play.

The Ravens nearly won the region championship, losing in overtime to eventual champion Seward County.

The Ravens finished the year with a 30-4 record, tying the school record for the most wins in a season.

Two of the four Lady Ravens losses last year came at the hands of the Lady Norse. NEO earned a 79-74 victory in Coffeyville before gaining a 78-72 win in Miami.

“Coffeyville is a young basketball team, but I think they are even better than they were last year,” Rowland said. “They are exceptional at guards and they play at a very up-tempo pace.”

Anchoring the point guard position for the Lady Norse is sophomore Autumn Thompson (5-7 of Glenpool).

Last season Thompson averaged 5.4 points and 2.2 rebounds in 30 games. She added 81 assists and 32 steals.

Returning at the 2-guard spot is veteran Misty Haley (5-5 of Oktaha).

As a freshman, Haley averaged 6.1 points and 1.8 rebounds in 30 games. Haley contributed 21 assists and 29 steals.

“Because they have a much deeper bench than we do, we're going to have to pick-and-choose when we push the ball up the floor,” Rowland said. “They like to wreak havoc with the quickness they have at guards and try to get easy layups in the transition game.”

Freshman ShiNeice Cox (5-4 of Columbus, Ohio) and Lacie Ward (5-6 of Harper, Kan.) are expected to start in the backcourt for Coffeyville.

Ward recorded 12 points and nine rebounds in the victory over the Butler Lady Grizzlies while Cox contributed 10 points and five rebounds.

The tandem created 25 turnovers that directly led to 27 points for the Lady Ravens.

Expected to see playing time either in the two or three spot for the Lady Norse is freshman Kali Bassett (5-8 of Grove) while starting at the other forward spot is freshman Nolisha Markham (5-10 of Tulsa East Central).

“Our main focus will be to take care of the basketball,” Rowland said. “Then, once we get into our offense, we want to execute it until we get a high-percentage shot.”

The Lady Ravens opened the season Saturday evening with a 97-70 victory over the Butler Grizzlies.

Sophomores Syeeda Echols (5-8 of Wichita, Kan.) and Asaiah Lowe (5-10 of Detroit, Mich.) should start on the wings for Coffeyville.

Echols scored 10 points and grabbed five rebounds in the season opener while Lowe tallied 11 points and four rebounds.

Freshman Kayla Cooper (5-11 of Detroit, Mich.) came off the bench to lead the Lady Ravens both in scoring (16 points) and rebounding (12).

Probable starter in the post-position for the Lady Norse is freshman Skye Rees (6-2 of Melbourne, Australia).

Matching up against Rees in the paint for Coffeyville will be freshman Allison Royland (6-1 of Richardson, Texas).

Royland scored 12 points and contributed five rebounds against Butler.

Immediately following the women's game, coach Dustin Grover's Golden Norsemen square off against the third-ranked Red Ravens at 8 p.m.

Tickets at the door at $6 per person and $3 for senior citizens and students. All seats are general admission.