It’s about to be a testy Turkey day in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The eight-team field at the Paradise Jam tournament is a pristine 37-0 with five holding spots in the Associated Press Top 25 rankings.
Only two teams will make it back to the continental U.S. with their pristine record intact.
No. 1 Oregon will get another ranked opponent this weekend and the Reef division will feature three ranked matchups, including a rematch of an NCAA tournament game as the finale.
The games begin Thursday afternoon and conclude Saturday with the champion determined via round robin play. As shown by Her Hoop Stats, there’s a lot of room for teams to move heading into December.
A look at this week's AP top 25 vote distribution shows consolidation in the top two-thirds of the rankings. With plenty of opportunities for teams to make their case this week, that consensus may be short-lived. pic.twitter.com/uJ0MKGLdd1— Her Hoop Stats (@herhoopstats) November 26, 2019
Paradise Jam tournament teams
Island — No. 1 Oregon (4-0), No. 8 Louisville (5-0), Oklahoma State (5-0), UT Arlington (4-0)
Reef — No. 2 Baylor (5-0), No. 17 Indiana (4-0), No. 5 South Carolina (6-0), Washington State (4-0)
Thursday: UT Arlington vs. Louisville 1 p.m. ET, Oklahoma State vs. Oregon 3:15 p.m., Washington State vs. Baylor 5:45 p.m., Indiana vs. South Carolina 8 p.m.,
Friday: Louisville vs. Oklahoma State 1 p.m., UT Arlington vs. Oregon 3:15 p.m., Baylor vs. Indiana 5:45 p.m., Washington State vs. South Carolina 8 p.m.,
Saturday: Oklahoma State vs. UT Arlington 1 p.m., Oregon vs. Louisville 3:15 p.m., Washington State vs. Indiana 6:45 p.m., South Carolina vs. Baylor 8 p.m.
Coming home: South Carolina star freshman Aliyah Boston is returning to her hometown of St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, for the tournament. She and her sister moved to Worcester, Massachusetts, to live with their aunt and play basketball when Boston was 12. South Carolina senior Mikiah Herbert Harrigan also has relatives in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Family lines: The tournament will have its first mother vs. daughter game this weekend. Krista Gerlich, the head coach of UT Arlington, will face her daughter, Bryn Gerlich of Oklahoma State. The 6-foot sophomore went 3-of-5 for a season-high seven points in eight minutes of playing time against Rice over the weekend.
Oregon in the third quarter
Against both Team USA and Syracuse, Oregon looked beatable (or human, in the case of the USA game) in the first half. Both were tight games, until the Ducks came out and put it away with a strong third. They trailed the national team by four at the break on 41.6 percent shooting, then outscored USA, 30-25, in the third shooting 11 of 18 (61 percent) and again 25-19 in the fourth shooting 56.3 percent.
Ionescu dropped 20 of her game-high 30 points in the third.
Against Syracuse, Oregon was up by one at the half and was shooting poorly, hitting 9 of 34 shots but making it to the line 11 times.
That break turned it around and the Ducks outscored the Orange, 31-16, in the period with 11 points by Erin Boley, who hit 3 of 4 3-pointers, and seven from Ruthy Hebard.
Ionescu told media after the game:
“I don’t think there’s anything different defensively that they really did to us. I think we just took our offense to another level. We were penetrating more, and finding gaps and getting open shots. Those are shots that we normally make, so we knew that we’d end up hitting them as long as we continued to penetrate and kick. I mean, we played Duck basketball. We kind of just played in our flow and kind of forgot about all our shots we had missed earlier, and forgot about the turnovers and just played. That third quarter was probably the best that we’ve played offensively in a really long time.”
Beware of the third quarter for the Ducks, who may look sunk but that other level is deadly.
Baylor, South Carolina rematch caps tournament
Baylor and South Carolina on Sunday is a rematch of last season’s Sweet Sixteen. Baylor won, 93-68, and went on to win the title. The Bears were better from the floor (52.1 to 33.3 percent) and dominated the boards, 54-30. They’ll be without All-American center Lauren Cox as she’s out indefinitely with a foot injury, but will have Te’a Cooper after she transferred from South Carolina last season.
The two teams are the only in the group in the top 10 for scoring offense and defense; their match-up Saturday night will be a battle of what side wins out. Baylor is third in points scored (95.4) and second in points allowed (38.2) while South Carolina is 10th (88.2) and sixth (46.0) respectively.
Ranked teams at championship tournaments
No. 22 Gonzaga, Arizona State and Drake will play at the Gulf Coast Showcase in a championship bracket. ASU and Drake each received votes in last week’s AP poll. They could meet in the semifinals — ASU plays Maine and Drake plays Purdue on Friday — before likely running into Gonzaga in the title game.
No. 3 Stanford, No. 10 Mississippi State and No. 18 Syracuse went the opposite direction and traveled north to Victoria, British Columbia, for the Greater Victoria Invitational.
Syracuse gets Houston after its first loss of the year against Oregon. Stanford will play Cal Baptist and the winners play each other Saturday.
The unranked Irish squad will play Florida Gulf Coast, South Dakota State (3-2) and No. 21 South Florida at the Cancun Challenge in Mexico beginning Thanksgiving day. South Dakota State lost to Oregon in the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA tournament last season, 63-53.
“Three games in three days is difficult because you’re constantly adjusting to new things without practice,” Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw said, via ABC 57. “That’s very difficult for a young team and the first team we play — Florida Gulf Coast — is the one that runs the most, so that’s going to be probably the most tiring.”
No. 7 Oregon State will play No. 19 Miami (4-1) on Saturday afternoon in the Beavers first road trip of the season. They play Liberty on Sunday. It’s the first meeting with either team for the Beavers, who have two of the top five active players in career 3-point percentage. Aleah Goodman is second at 43.6 percent and Kat Tudor is fifth at 42.8 percent.
The game will pit two watch lists players against each other in Oregon State’s Mikayla Pivec, who’s averaging 16.2 points, 12.2 rebounds and 6.4 assists per game, and Miami’s Beatrice Mompremier, who’s averaging 20.2 points and 10.2 rebounds with a total seven blocks and eight steals.
And to conclude the holiday weekend, No. 6 Texas A&M will play No. 12 Florida State on FS1 at 8 p.m. ET as part of the Maggie Dixon Classic. Chennedy Carter is averaging a fifth-best 24.0 points per game for the Aggies and sophomore 5-foot-5 guard Chrislyn Carr is averaging a second-best 8.7 assists per game. She trails Ionescu’s 9.5.
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