Fans can start plotting their journey to the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya over Thanksgiving week, as tournament officials for the 2018 Women’s Cancun Challenge have announced game times and matchups for the event.
This year marks the 14th edition of the tournament, which features 10 teams in two divisions. The Mayan Division has DePaul, Kansas State, Princeton and Syracuse; the Riviera Division features George Washington, Georgia Tech, Idaho State, Kennesaw State, Michigan State and NC State.
Games take place in the modified ballroom of the all-inclusive Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya, in a setting where teams and fans can walk from their rooms to the restaurants to the games.
Here’s the schedule (all times local ET; home team listed second):
Thursday, Nov. 22
DePaul vs. Princeton, 11 a.m.
Syracuse vs. Kansas State, 1:30 p.m.
Georgia Tech vs. George Washington, 4 p.m.
NC State vs. Michigan State, 6:30 p.m.
Kennesaw State vs. Idaho State, 9 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 23
Kansas State vs. DePaul, 11 a.m.
Princeton vs. Syracuse, 1:30 p.m.
George Washington vs. NC State, 4 p.m.
Idaho State vs. Georgia Tech, 6:30 p.m.
Michigan State vs. Kennesaw State, 9 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 24
Kansas State vs. Princeton, 11 a.m.
DePaul vs. Syracuse, 1:30 p.m.
2017-18 record 27-8 (15-3 Big East); lost to Texas A&M in Round 2 of NCAA Tournament.
The Blue Demons return four double-digit scorers from last year’s very strong squad that won both the Big East regular season and tournament titles. Head coach Doug Bruno has run the show for 32 years and just signed a contract extension through 2023-24; his team averaged 83 points per game last year, shot 36 percent from 3-point range and had a 724-480 margin in assists to turnovers. Senior Mart’e Gray missed all of 2016-17 with an Achilles injury but averaged 14.4 ppg last year, and classmate Ashton Millender added 13.6 ppg. Junior guard Kelly Campbell is an intriguing talent, averaging 10.6 ppg and 8.6 rpg.
2017-18 record 19-14 (10-6 Atlantic 10); lost to Ohio State in Round 1 of NCAA Tournament.
The Colonials are reloading in some spots but have a couple key returners in Mei-Lyn Bautista, who averaged 8.1 points per game and led the team with 141 assists, as well as Kelsi Mahoney, who averaged 8.5 ppg and shot 36 percent from 3-point range. Head coach Jennifer Rizzotti enters her third season at GW after a 17-year run at Hartford; she’s known for drawing strong recruiting classes and will welcome four new players in 2018-19, including 6-foot-5 center Kayla Mokwuah from Massachusetts, who averaged 25 points and 19 rebounds per game as a junior.
2017-18 record 20-14 (6-10 ACC); lost to Alabama in Round 3 of Postseason WNIT.
The Yellow Jackets certainly found an international gem with Francesca Pan, a 6-1 guard from Italy who has become one of the ACC’s toughest players. She averaged 14.3 ppg and helps the team in multiple categories, offensively and defensively. Fellow Italian Lorela Cubaj had a solid freshman year and is primed to be the team’s top rebounder going forward. Head coach MaChelle Joseph enters her 16th season with the program, is GT’s all-time winningest coach and has missed the postseason only once since the 2006-07 campaign. A top-10 ranked recruiting class is headed to Atlanta, led by 6-1 Nigerian guard Elizabeth Balogun.
2017-18 record 21-11 (11-7 Big Sky)
The Bengals missed out on the postseason but are likely still talking about their 113-109 OT victory over Weber State in the Big Sky tournament, when they trailed by 25 points in the third quarter. That resourcefulness is reflected in senior Grace Kenyon, who tore her ACL after her freshman year but was second in scoring (12.9 ppg) and led the team in rebounds, assists, steals and blocks. The roster gets a boost from Australian freshman guard Callie Bourne, who averaged 20 points per game in a club season and has significant international experience.
2017-18 record 18-16 (7-11 Big 12); lost to UC Davis in Round 3 of Postseason WNIT.
The Wildcats welcome back senior Kayla Goth, who was the first player in program history to score more than 500 points and register more than 200 assists in a season – only nine players in D-I hit that threshold last season. Junior Peyton Williams came through down low all year (14.7 ppg, 7.1 rpg), and sophomore Rachel Ranke started 27 games and averaged 11.5 ppg. Head coach Jeff Mittie is entering his fifth year at KSU; the daughter of assistant coach Chris Carr, Christianna Carr, is an incoming freshman from Manhattan, KS, and was ranked No. 22 overall by ESPN Hoopgurlz.
2017-18 record 7-19 (3-11 Atlantic Sun)
The Owls had a rather strange year, losing four games in the wake of the hurricane that wiped out the Puerto Rico Classic, and playing a very tough schedule with games against Ole Miss, Georgia Tech, Maryland and Clemson (a bizarre 41-28 loss). But looking ahead, the team has Kamiyah Street, the ASUN freshman of the year who averaged 16.3 points and 5.5 rebounds per game as a 5-5 guard. Another strong debut season was put in by 6-2 forward Alexis Poole, who had 10.2 points and 7.9 rebounds per contest. Third-year coach Agnus Berenato has another quality player coming in with Amani Johnson.
2017-18 record 19-14 (7-9 Big Ten); lost to South Dakota in Round 3 of Postseason WNIT
The Spartans certainly learned that junior Shay Colley can be an offensive force; even though she averaged just 12.4 points per game, she had a huge WNIT run, scoring 31 points in the loss to South Dakota. Fellow junior Taryn McCutcheon also had a nice year, averaging 10.2 ppg and leading the team in assists and steals, while shooting almost 38 percent from the 3-point line. The roster will get a boost from guard Nia Clouden, the USA Today Maryland player of the year who was ranked No. 43 overall by ESPN Hoopgurlz.
2017-18 record 26-9 (11-5 ACC); lost to Mississippi State in Round 3 of NCAA Tournament.
The Wolfpack has fought their way to Top 25 status, with back-to-back seasons of at least 23 victories. While its long-range shooting needs to improve, NC State is a defensive menace, holding teams below 58 points per game and south of 38 percent shooting from the field. Senior Kiara Leslie (a graduate transfer from Maryland) averaged right at 13 points and six rebounds per game, and another double-digit scorer returns in junior Aislinn Konig, a 5-9 guard from British Columbia. Head coach Wes Moore has a unique calling card – he’s the first coach in history to advance three different teams to the NCAA Tournament at the Division I, II, and III levels.
2017-18 record 24-6 (12-2 Ivy); lost to Maryland in Round 1 of NCAA Tournament.
The Tigers cast quite the shadow in the Ivy League; coach Courtney Banghart (the 2015 Naismith coach of the year) got Princeton to the NCAA Tournament in seven of the past nine years, and even once as an at-large team. The Tigers are a handful defensively, holding teams to 55 points per game last year and a grim 29 percent from 3-point range. Junior Bella Alarie was the league player of the year, averaging 13.3 ppg and 9.4 rpg; sophomore Abby Meyers only played 17 minutes per game as a freshman, but she averaged 9.4 ppg and looks ready to be a factor offensively.
2017-18 record 22-9 (10-6 ACC); lost to Oklahoma State in Round 1 of NCAA Tournament.
The Orange get it done with an international roster featuring players from Latvia, France, Australia, Canada and three from Illinois. All four of the team’s double-digit scorers are back for 2018-19, with Tiana Mangakahia averaging 17.5 ppg – she was the top-ranked junior college guard before coming to the program. St. Bonaventure transfer Miranda Drummond averaged 15 points per game and shot 40 percent from 3-point range. Head coach Quentin Hillsman was 9-20 in his first season (2006-07); in 2016, the Orange won 30 games and played in the NCAA championship game and seems poised to stay at that level.
About the Cancun Challenge
Located just off the azure waters of the Caribbean Sea, the 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 firstname.lastname@example.org) 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 900-team Sparkler/Fireworks event) draw the nation’s finest club programs, and hundreds of college coaches attend TCS events for recruiting purposes.