With more than a decade of history drawing talented teams and enthusiastic fans to basketball heaven, tournament officials at the Women’s Cancun Challenge have confirmed nine of the 10 participating NCAA D-I women’s programs heading to Mexico in 2018.
The 14th edition of the women’s event welcomes a rich pool of talent -- skilled and successful teams from the most accomplished conferences, along with an intriguing mix of mid-major teams looking to flex their muscle. The Women’s Cancun Challenge will be held Nov. 22-24 at the all-inclusive Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya on the Yucatan Peninsula.
The three-game round-robin portion of the Cancun Challenge will feature Kansas State, Princeton, Syracuse and one more team to be announced later this winter. The two-game portion of the event will feature George Washington, Georgia Tech, Idaho State, Kennesaw State, Michigan State and NC State.
This will be the third trip to the Yucatan for Kansas State (2007, 2011), Michigan State (2007, 2011) and Idaho State (2011, 2016). It’s the second time to the Hard Rock Hotel for Princeton (2014), NC State (2015) and Georgia Tech (2015), while 2018 marks the debut appearances for Syracuse, Kennesaw State and George Washington.
“We are fortunate to draw passionate fans and a great mix of the most well-regarded programs in the nation,” said Renee Carlson, executive director of the event. “Our repeat customers know, and our first-timers are soon to see, the depth of the competition and the unique chance to enjoy a warm-weather vacation in November that puts teams and fans shoulder-to-shoulder in a relaxed, refreshing location.”
The Cancun Challenge is one of the premier basketball events held each year and was rated as a top-five preseason tournament by Sports Illustrated in 2014. Teams stay and play at the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya. The resort’s convention center ballroom is converted into an arena, which provides fans a special close-up view of the games. Once arriving to the hotel, teams and fans are treated to a spectacular all-inclusive rock star vacation with games, practices, unlimited dining and drinks, world-class entertainment and fun all in one location.
Located just off the azure waters of the Caribbean Sea, Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya offers the ultimate vacation for guests of all ages with both the adults-only and family friendly resort experiences. With a combined 1,264 ultra-posh and lavishly appointed guestrooms boasting balcony, terrace views or new, expansive sky terrace options with picturesque views, hydro tubs in each room, world-class shopping and endless style, Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya is nothing short of the ultimate crowd-pleaser. Complete with expansive outdoor pools and private beach, this all-inclusive escape offers nine world-class restaurants, eight bars and lounges, in addition to 88,915 square feet of state-of-the-art meeting and event space ideal for elegant banquets, themed parties, weddings, concerts, and more.
Seating is limited for this exclusive event, and all fans should book land travel packages through Triple Crown Sports for admission into games in Mexico. Travel packages are the only way to guarantee admission to games at this time. For travel package information, contact Sarah Sullivan at 970-672-0533 (email to email@example.com) or visit the website at www.cancunchallenge.net.
About Triple Crown Sports
Based in Fort Collins, CO., Triple Crown Sports has been producing college and youth events for more than 30 years. TCS runs both the preseason and postseason WNIT basketball events and produces the men’s and women’s Cancun Challenge tournaments in November. Triple Crown is also powering “WNIT” concept events in D-I softball (NISC) and volleyball (NIVC), with those two events debuting in 2017. TCS youth fastpitch tournaments (including the 1,000-team Sparkler/Fireworks event) draw the nation’s finest club programs, and hundreds of college coaches attend TCS events for recruiting purposes.
TENNESSEE 69, SOUTH DAKOTA 49
No. 12 Tennessee too a 41-18 lead by halftime and cruised the rest of the way, easing past South Dakota in the final game of the 2017 Cancun Challenge.
The Lady Vols (6-0) did have 20 turnovers, but the entire roster saw significant minutes, with Anastasia Hayes and Rennia Davis each scoring 12 points. Jaime Nared had 11 points and nine rebounds and Mercedes Russell closed with 10 points.
The Coyotes (3-3) were led by Monica Arens, who had 10 points. South Dakota was just 30 percent from the field and also took just two free throws.
ARIZONA STATE 72, COLUMBIA 48
No. 24 Arizona State used balanced scoring and ferocious defense to dispatch Columbia, moving to 5-2 overall in the next-to-last game of the 2017 Cancun Challenge.
The Sun Devils deployed a tough full-court press and forced 19 turnovers, holding the Lions (2-5) to 41 percent shooting from the field. Jamie Ruden and Robbi Ryan each had 12 points, Sophia Elenga added 11 points and Charnea Johnson-Chapman came through with 10 points and eight rebounds. ASU was 20-of-25 from the free-throw line and only had three turnovers.
Columbia was paced by Camille Zimmerman, who had 23 points. Madison Pack added 10 points and nine rebounds.
The Mayan Division all-tournament team was also announced:
Camille Zimmermaqn, Columbia
Robbi Ryan, Arizona State
Allie LeClaire, Green Bay
Jessica Lindstrom, Green Bay
Teaira McCowan, Mississippi State
Victoria Vivians, Mississippi State
MISSISSIPPI STATE 67, GREEN BAY 46
No. 7 Mississippi State handed Green Bay its first loss of the season, jumping ahead early with terrific defense and moving to 6-0 on the season in both teams' final game at the Cancun Challenge.
The Bulldogs put the game away with a 24-11 scoring edge in the third quarter, Victoria Vivians had 17 points and six rebounds for MSU; Roshunda Johnson added 14 points and six rebounds, Blair Schaefer had 13 points, and Morgan WIlliam came through with 10 points and five assists. Teaira McCowan had nine points, 13 rebounds and three blocked shots.
Green Bay (5-1) shot 34 percent from the field and had 17 turnovers; the Phoenix were also held to 3-for-4 shooting from the free-throw line. Jessica Lindstrom had 14 points.
MARQUETTE 87, MONTANA 68
No. 20 Marquette rolled out to a big early lead and was never threatened, making 13 3-pointers on the way to a victory over Montana.
The Golden Eagles (2-2) were led by Natisha Hiedeman, who had 21 points and six assists. Allazia Blockton added 17 points and six rebounds, Isabelle Spingola had 14 points, and Erika Davenport came through with 13 points.
Montana (1-3) got 13 points and five rebounds from McKenzie Johnston, 11 points from Made Schoening and 10 points from Hailey Nicholson. The Lady Griz shot just 41 percent from the field.
Here is the Riviera Division all-tournament team:
Ashley Taia, Indiana State
Jaycee Bradley, South Dakota
Jace Henderson, Montana
Allazia Blockton, Marquette
Loryn Goodwin, Oklahoma State
Jaime Nared, Tennessee (MVP
SOUTH DAKOTA 71, INDIANA STATE 59
South Dakota had four players hit double figures in scoring for the first time this season, and a solid defensive effort in the final quarter allowed the Coyotes to pull ahead and move to 3-2 on the season.
South Dakota forced 22 turnovers; the team was paced by Madison McKeever's 14 points, while Allison Arens added 13 points. Jaycee Bradley and Ciara Duffy both had 11 points, as Duffy added six rebounds and two steals.
The Lady Sycamores (1-4) got a huge night from Ashley Taia, who had 21 points and hit five of her seven 3-point attempts.
TENNESSEE 79, OKLAHOMA STATE 69
No. 12 Tennessee took a big first-quarter lead and held off multiple rallies from Oklahoma State, locking down on defense in the final moments to secure the victory and move to 5-0 on the season.
The Lady Vols were paced by senior leaders Mercedes Russell (25 points, eight rebounds) and Jaime Nared (21 points, 10 rebounds), with the team shooting 53 percent from the field and hold OSU to 38 percent. Rennia Davis had 12 points, and Anastasia Hayes came through with 10 points and five assists.
Oklahoma State got another huge night from senior guard Loryn Goodwin, who finished with 29 points and three assists. The Cowgirls were just 5-of-21 from 3-point range and also struggled to hit free throws, going just 12-of-22 there.
OSU got within two points in the third quarter, but Tennessee never gave up the advantage; the Lady Vols also had a 41-33 edge in rebounding.
GREEN BAY 61, ARIZONA STATE 48
Green Bay moved to 5-0 on the season with an upset of No. 24 Arizona State, shooting better than 51 percent from the field and holding the Sun Devils to nine points below their previous low-scoring output of the 2017-18 campaign.
Allie LeClaire had 18 points, six rebounds and five assists for the Phoenix, and Jessica Lindstrom added 17 points, eight rebounds and four assists. Green Bay was just 1-of-9 from 3-point range but had a 39-23 edge in rebounding, building a double-digit lead it would not relinquish by outscoring ASU in the third quarter, 19-9.
Arizona State (4-2) got 13 points from Robbi Ryan; Jamie Ruden added 12 points and five rebounds. The Sun Devils were 4-of-22 from 3-point range and just 8-of-16 from the free-throw line.
MISSISSIPPI STATE 90, COLUMBIA 54
Seventh-ranked Mississippi State saw Columbia hang tough for two quarters, but the Bulldogs used their inside-outside strength and tough defense to run away in the second half, moving to 5-0 on the season.
Victoria Vivians had 23 points and three steals, Teaira McCowan added 21 points and 10 rebounds, and Blair Schaefer closed with 14 points for MSU. The Bulldogs were 10-of-21 from 3-point range and forced 22 turnovers.
Columbia (2-4) was paced by Camille Zimmerman, who finished with 26 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and three steals. The Lions were outscored in the second half, 53-25.
INDIANA STATE 57, MONTANA 45
Ashli O'Neal poured in a career-high 22 points and added three steals for Indiana State, which held Montana to 31 percent shooting in its victory at the Cancun Challenge.
Tierra Webb added 13 points for the Lady Sycamores (1-3), and Alexis Delgado had 11 points; Wendi Bibbins was held to just two points, but she had 10 rebounds, four assists and five steals. Indiana State was a solid 16-for-20 from the free-throw line, even though the team shot 31 percent overall from the field as well.
The Lady Griz (0-4) got 11 points and seven rebounds from Jace Henderson; the team was just 2-for-15 from 3-point range and had 16 turnovers.