WVU Women Also Headed To Cancun Tourney
The Mountaineer men’s basketball team will be playing in the 2019 Cancun Challenge Nov. 26-27. WVU’s women’s team will immediately follow the men to that Mexican locale, participating in 2019 Women’s Cancun Challenge Nov. 27-28.
This year marks the 15th edition of the women’s tournament, which features 10 teams in two formats at the Hard Rock Riviera Maya over Thanksgiving.
The Mayan Tournament has Florida Gulf Coast, Notre Dame, South Dakota State and South Florida; the Riviera Tournament features Creighton, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Temple and West Virginia.
Games take place in the modified ballroom of the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya.
Thursday, Nov. 28
South Dakota State vs. South Florida, 11 a.m. ET
Florida Gulf Coast vs. Notre Dame, 1:30 p.m. ET
Missouri vs. New Mexico, 4 p.m. ET
West Virginia vs. Creighton, 6:30 p.m. ET
Temple vs. North Carolina, 9 p.m. ET
Friday, Nov. 29
Notre Dame vs. South Dakota State, 11 a.m. ET
South Florida vs. Florida Gulf Coast, 1:30 p.m. ET
New Mexico vs. West Virginia, 4 p.m. ET
North Carolina vs. Missouri, 6:30 p.m. ET
Creighton vs. Temple, 9 p.m. ET
Saturday, Nov. 30
South Florida vs. Notre Dame, 11 a.m. ET
South Dakota State vs. Florida Gulf Coast, 1:30 p.m. ET
Monday, Dec. 9
Florida Memorial University at Florida Gulf Coast, TBA
FLORIDA GULF COAST – 2018-19 Record: 28-5 overall, 16-0 Atlantic Sun (lost to Miami in Round 1 of NCAA Tournament) The Eagles have become the dominant power in the ASUN, with head coach Karl Smesko (524-119, .815) earning nine conference coach of the year awards. He will get back his two leading scorers in senior-to-be Nasrin Ulel (14.6 ppg) and classmate Keri Jewett-Giles (12.8 ppg). Defensively, FGCU makes life miserable for opponents as it ranked 27th nationally in forced turnovers at just over 20 per contest. Handling the job down low is Tytionia Adderly, who has 846 rebounds over three seasons and is on track to be the first player in the program to top 1,000 boards. The Eagles were No. 2 in the country in 3-point attempts last year, taking more than 33 long-range shots per contest.
NOTRE DAME – 2018-19 Record: 35-4, 14-2 Atlantic Coast Conference (lost to Baylor in NCAA championship game) The Irish saw all five of their starters drafted by the WNBA in Round 1, so head coach Muffet McGraw will get to experiment with her roster. Sophomores Mikayla Vaughn and Jordan Nixon headline a Top-10 recruiting class from a year ago. If she can remain healthy, graduate transfer Destinee Walker from North Carolina would be useful as she topped double figures in scoring in her first two seasons. Incoming freshmen of note are Sam Brunelle (No. 4 prospect on espnW) and Anaya Peoples (No. 21 overall); Brunelle was slowed her senior year with a foot injury and surgery but returned to play in her prep postseason.
SOUTH DAKOTA STATE – 2018-19 Record: 28-7 overall, 15-1 Summit League (lost to Oregon in Round 3 of NCAA Tournament) The Jackrabbits were the first Summit League team to reach the NCAA Sweet 16, anchored by a senior (Macy Miller) who was picked in the WNBA Draft. Junior-to-be Myah Selland is the top returning scorer (12.1 ppg). She is joined by classmate Tylee Irwin (7.5 ppg) and senior-to-be Tagyn Larson (10.5 ppg, team-high 6.4 rpg), as all three were primary starters last season. Head coach Aaron Johnston, who actually coached both SDSU golf teams early in his career, is approaching his 500th career victory (469-156, .750); his team shot great from 3-point range (37 percent) and ranked 8th nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio (631-441). The incoming recruiting class includes Tori Nelson, who topped 2,000 points in her prep career.
SOUTH FLORIDA – 2018-19 Record: 19-16 overall, 7-9 American Athletic Conference (lost to James Madison in Round 2 of Postseason WNIT) The Bulls had an unusually harsh injury problem last year and still almost won 20 games. One key returner is Enna Pehadzic, who as a junior averaged right at 12 points and five rebounds per game, and the team gets stability in the backcourt with Sydni Harvey, who averaged 11.7 ppg as a freshman and showed promise as a 3-point threat. Head coach Jose Fernandez made sure his team fought through adversity, as it finished No. 6 nationally in rebound margin. Still unknown is the status of Kitija Laksa, the program’s sixth-leading scorer all-time who lost all but three games of her senior year with an ACL injury and may apply for a medical hardship to suit up again.
CREIGHTON – 2018-19 Record: 15-16 overall, 8-10 Big East Conference (no postseason) Despite missing the postseason for the first time in 11 years, the Bluejays had some nice wins last year (Marquette, DePaul, South Florida) and returns a large group of players, including Jaylyn Agnew (11.8 ppg and 6.6 rpg) and Temi Carda (10.1 ppg, 36 percent from 3-point range). The incoming freshmen include Carly Bachelor, who had back-to-back years of averaging right at 20 points and 10 rebounds per game; she was Kansas’ Miss Basketball as well. Head coach Jim Flanery is also bringing in DeArica Pryor, who averaged 14.6 ppg at her school in Illinois.
MISSOURI – 2018-19 Record: 24-11 overall, 10-6 Southeastern Conference (lost to Iowa in Round 2 of NCAA Tournament) The Tigers have to replace many important pieces, but there’s comfort in the return of senior-to-be Amber Smith, who averaged 12.4 ppg and 6.9 rpg, solid numbers for the 5-foot-11 guard. If she can recover in time from a knee injury, Akira Levy can cover the ballhandling chores as a sophomore, and at least two seniors are ready to emerge (Hannah Schuchts and Jordan Roundtree) now that playing time has become available with the graduation of All-American Sophie Cunningham. The arrow is up for Mizzou, as head coach Robin Pingeton has guided the team into the NCAA Tournament for three straight years, the first time since a similar run in the mid-1980s. The team also welcomes the No. 12 ranked recruiting class, from espnW.
NEW MEXICO – 2018-19 Record: 24-7 overall, 14-4 Mountain West Conference (lost to Denver in Round 1 of Postseason WNIT) Through 30 games last year, the Lobos had an RPI of 41, but fortunes dipped after an ACL injury to junior point guard Aisia Robertson. She’s hoping to get back on the floor in early 2020; the backcourt has added graduate transfer Ciani Cryor (Rutgers) to help bridge the gap. Another interesting newcomer is 6-foot-4 Celine Dupont, a freshman from the Netherlands who might blunt the effects of losing stalwart post players Jaisa Nunn and Nike McClure. Jayla Everett (13.5 ppg) was the MWC’s freshman of the year, and there’s more scoring punch looking forward as UTEP transfer Najala Howell is now eligible – she started 31 games as a junior.
NORTH CAROLINA – 2018-19 Record: 18-15 overall, 8-8 Atlantic Coast Conference (lost to California in Round 1 of NCAA Tournament) The Tar Heels have turned to Courtney Banghart after the 33-year head-coach run of Sylvia Hatchell; Banghart won seven Ivy League titles in her 12 years at Princeton. Reaching the NCAA Tournament for the first time in four years was a positive sign for the roster, which returns junior-to-be Janelle Bailey (16.7 ppg and 8.7 rpg) along with 2019-20 seniors Taylor Koenen (9.6 ppg and 6.9 rpg) and Shayla Bennett (11.2 ppg, team-high 132 assists). It’s clear that North Carolina can still attract talent, as four-star guard recruit Kennady Tucker agreed this spring to attend the school.
TEMPLE – 2018-19 Record: 11-19 overall, 7-9 American Athletic Conference (no postseason) The Owls have struggled for a couple of seasons, but there’s something to build upon with junior-to-be Mia Davis, who averaged right at 19 points and nine rebounds per game last year. Classmate Desiree Oliver is hoping to build on her promise from last year, which was cut short by eight games with an injury, and Marissa Mackins had a terrific freshman run, closing with 19 starts and 8.7 ppg. The Owls just offered a scholarship to 5-foot-10 guard Tess Myers; she averaged better than 15 points per game for her high school in Ohio. The squad features twin sisters Nicolette and Emani Mayo.
WEST VIRGINIA – 2018-19 Record: 22-11, 11-7 Big 12 Conference (lost to Northwestern in Round 3 of Postseason WNIT) The Mountaineers will lean heavily on Tynice Martin, who as a junior averaged 17.4 ppg and 5.9 rpg and shot very well from 3-point range. Dekeriya Patterson will come in from the JUCO ranks to reinforce the guard position, as she averaged 17.6 ppg last year. Head coach Mike Carey has insisted he will fortify the roster with more options, and that includes Penn State transfer De’Janae Boykin, who sat out last year.