Fresh off two home wins, the women’s basketball team sets off for a three game trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
Starting Tuesday night, the team plays three games in three days against Florida Gulf Coast, North Dakota State, and Purdue in this year’s Hardwood Tournament of Hope. According to a press release about the tournament, “this prestigious event raises awareness, support, and research for the National Urea Cycle Disorders Foundation.”
Even with a daunting and possibly tiring schedule ahead, head coach Jeff Mittie said after the team’s last game that they were going to utilize the time off before the tournament by practicing hard and even scrimmaging once or twice.
TCU’s last two games have been almost polar opposites of each other – a defensive gritty win against Texas State to avenge a loss from the year previous and an offensive shootout in which the Frogs scored posted their highest score of the season.
Sophomore guard Zahna Medley leads the team in scoring, averaging 20 points per game in the young season. The 5-foot-6 guard from Springfield, Ill. has played far beyond her years, partly because of the experience she garnered last year as a freshman thrown into the action.
Perhaps a surprise to many is 6-foot-1 sophomore Caitlin Diaz, who has led the team in rebounds in two of the four games this season. Mittie has repeatedly said that her primary job on the floor is to grab rebounds and that her playing time relies on it.
Each game tips off at 6:30 p.m., beginning Tuesday against Florida Gulf Coast.
Here’s a look at each opponent and what to watch for in all three games:
FLORIDA GULF COAST (3-1)
Fun fact: Located in Fort Meyers, Fla., this school is more known for its men’s basketball program (“Dunk City”), which burst onto the scene as a 15 seed during March Madness last year.
However, their women’s program is just as impressive, going 27-7 last year but more impressively going 18-0 in conference play, sweeping the Atlantic Sun. This year, the Eagles’ only loss came by two points against Southern Mississippi.
Four players are scoring in double-digits, including co-leading scorer (14.5) and leading rebounder Sarah Hansen. The 5-foot-10 redshirt senior also led the team in scoring and rebounding the previous year as well.
SOUTH DAKOTA STATE (2-3)
Fun fact: Located in Brookings, South Dakota State is the largest university in the state, boasting an enrollment of over 12,000.
Last year, they went 25-8 and only lost three Summit League conference games. Coming into the tournament, the Jackrabbits have won three in a row after dropping their first two this year. Junior guard Megan Waytashek leads the team in scoring this year and was second in scoring last year.
Fun fact: Located in West Lafayette, Ind., Purdue is known for having one of the only golf maintenance studies programs in the country.
The Boilermakers are undefeated on the year but must play powerhouse Stanford before clashing with the Frogs. Three players average double-digits in scoring per game, led by redshirt senior KK Houser.
Last year, Purdue went 25-9 and were knocked out of the NCAA tournament in the second round by eventual Final Four team Louisville.