With favorites Marquette and Louisiana Tech falling on the last day of this year’s Paradise Jam women’s tournament, it was Michigan and Alabama grabbing top honors Saturday at the University of the Virgin Islands Sports and Fitness Center on St. Thomas.
The first championship game had Alabama facing off against Louisiana Tech in the Island Division. A Khristian Lee layup with about 17 minutes to go in the first half gave Alabama a 7-5 lead. From there, the Crimson Tide ran off nine straight points capped off by Jasmine Robinson’s layup with 3:36 left to go in the half, giving Alabama a 14-5 lead. Alabama would push their lead to as much as 13 in the first half, taking a 36-28 lead.
In the second half, Louisiana Tech found a groove early and with 12:26 left in the game, Witney Frazier’s layup had the team down one, 43-42. But that run took a lot out of the tank, as the Tide dropped eight straight points, ending with another layup by Lee with 8:33 left in the game, putting Alabama back up nine, 54-45.
Alabama would push the lead out to 12, but eventually end up winning by only eight, 67-59. Robinson led Alabama with 19 points, while Ericka Russell finished with 12 and Lee with 11. Erin Hogue also finished the game with 18 rebounds and nine points.
For Louisiana Tech, Kiara Young finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds, while Shantale Bramble-Donaldson had 11 points and 10 rebounds.
The second championship game of the day had Michigan facing off against Marquette in the Reef Division. Michigan came out ready to roll and after a Nicole Elmblad three-pointer, the Wolverines were up 8-0. Gabi Minix’s jumper gave Marquette its first points, and a few possessions later, Arlesia Morse’s three brought the Golden Eagles within three, 8-5, with 14:15 left to go in the first half.
But from there, the Wolverines went on a 15-2 run, ending with Brenae Harris’s layup, and with about 11 minutes to go in the half, the score was 23-7. With about six minutes to go, a three by Marquette’s Sarina Smmonds pulled the Golden Eagles within eight, 27-19. But from there, Michigan pushed their lead back out to double digits, and by half time, had a 15 point lead, 41-26.
During the first half, Michigan dominated in the paint and points off the bench, and that trend continued in the second, as their lead went up to as much as 26 when Sam Arnold made a jumper with about 12:30 left in the game, making the score 56-30. Michigan went on to win by 20, 71-51.
Courtney Boylan led the Wolverines with 16 points, followed by Jenny Ryan with 13 points and 10 rebounds. For the Golden Eagles, Simmonds finished with 14 points, while Morse and Christina Bigica finished with 11 each.
Also playing that day, Seton Hall defeated Old Dominion 60-49, while Washington State crushed Prairie View A&M, 90-52. Wrapping up the tournament, the final standings for the Island Division had the Crimson Tide as the champions, followed by Seton Hall, Louisiana Tech and Old Dominion.
The All-Tournament Team for the Island Division was: Old Dominion’s Tia Lewis, Louisiana Tech’s Kiara Young, Seton Hall’s Jasmine Crew and Robinson from Alabama. Ericka Russell from Alabama was named tournament Most Valuable Player.
In the Reef Division, the champion Wolverines were followed by Washington State in second place, Marquette in third and Prairie View A&M.
The All-Tournament Team for the Reef Division was: Jeanette Jackson from Prairie View A&M, Katherine Plouffe from Marquette, Ashley Cook from Washington State and Ryan from Michigan. Boylan was named tournament Most Valuable Player.