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DePaul, Arizona, Northwestern, and Texas A&M Win on Day 1 of the Women’s Tournament

Paradise Jam Game Ball (Photo by Mark J Daniel)

Paradise Jam women’s games lived up to the hype as fans were treated to four close and exciting games and included one that wasn’t decided until the ball went through the hoop right as the final buzzer of the game sounded. The final two games of the evening were both close deep into the fourth quarter when the eventual winners pulled away from their opponents.

Island Division
Game One – DePaul University 77 – Rutgers University 74
The Blue Demons of DePaul University (4-1) led this game from the opening tip until the final horn in their 77-74 win over Rutgers University Scarlet Knights (4-2). DePaul shot 69% from the field in the first quarter to open up a 10-point lead going into the second quarter. In that frame, the Lady Blue Demons nailed five 3-point baskets expanding their advantage to 18-points with 5:29 left to go in the half. Rutgers responded by ending the first half on a 10-3 run reeling in the Blue Demons. Rutgers exploded in the third quarter shooting 60% from the field, shrinking the lead to as low as two points several times in the stanza. But that is as close as the Scarlet Knights would get as the Blue Demons kept making shots every time they needed a bucket. DePaul survived with a three-point victory.

Lexi Held dropped 16 points and dished out a game-high five assists for the Blue Demons. Kierra Collier came off DePaul’s bench to contribute 14 points. Deja Church and Sonya Morris also made double figures for the Blue Demons, scoring 12 and 10 points respectively. Osh Brown of Rutgers had an MVP-type game recording game-highs in points and rebounds with 20 each. Victoria Morris and Awa Sidibe supported Brown’s efforts by respectively contributing 19 and 11 points for the Scarlet Knights.

Game Two – University of Arizona 48 – Vanderbilt University 46
In the most exciting game of the day, the University of Arizona Wildcats (5-0) just squeaked by an upset-minded Vanderbilt University Commodores (3-3) team 48-46 in the second game of the 2021 Paradise Jam women’s tournament. Defense was the theme of this game as the Wildcats were guilty of snatching 14 steals, generating 26 Commodore turnovers. Vanderbilt registered 12 steals forcing Arizona into 25 turnovers. Vanderbilt made only two three-point field goals and a free throw in the first quarter. But their tenacious defense tamed the Wildcats offense keeping the game within reach. At the start of the fourth quarter, Vanderbilt was trailing by nine points. The Lady Commodores chipped away at the lead, tying the score at 46 with under 10 seconds to go in the game. Arizona turned to Senior Guard Shaina Pellington, who drove to the basket and offered up an off-balance shot that hit the backboard and through the net as the buzzer sounded to end the game.

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Sam Thomas led the Wildcats with 13 points, and Ariyah Copeland came off the bench to score 11 points. Helena Pueyo was the star on defense for Arizona, recording five steals. Iyana Moore and Demi Washington paced the Commodores’ offense by scoring 10 points each. Jordyn Cambridge was stellar on defense with four steals.

Rutgers University will face Vanderbilt University at 2 p.m., and DePaul University will take on Arizona at 4:15 p.m. on Friday in the Island Division.

Reef Division
Game Three – Northwestern University 73 – South Dakota University 57
The sixteen-point final margin does not accurately depict how closely competitive this game truly was played as Northwestern University Wildcats (4-1) used a strong fourth quarter to pull away from South Dakota University Coyotes (2-3), winning their matchup 73-57 Thursday evening at the University of the Virgin Islands Sports and Fitness Center. The Coyotes Kyah Watson opened the game with a made shot from behind the arc giving South Dakota the only lead they would enjoy all evening. Chloe Lamb fueled the Coyotes offense by registering 25 points, including five from long distance. Hannah Sjerven also added 13 points for South Dakota. This game was a two-point contest at the start of the fourth quarter. Northwestern shot a blistering 64% from the field, 75% from 3-point land, and made all seven of their free throws in the final frame. Despite Northwestern’s shooting precision on offense, the Coyotes kept within striking distance until freshman forward Caileigh Walsh dashed South Dakota’s hopes nailing two three-point baskets around the 3:00 mark in the fourth quarter for the Wildcats.

Walsh led the Wildcats with 20 points, and her teammates Veronica Burton and Lauryn Satterwhite contributed 19 and 15 respectively. Courtney Shaw also played big, scoring 12 points and snatching 13 rebounds.

South Dakota University starters get ready for the game against Northwestern University (Photo by Mark J Daniel)

Game Four – Texas A&M University 57 – University of Pittsburg 46
In the final game of Day 1 of the 2021 Paradise Jam Women’s Tournament, the University of Pittsburg Panthers (4-1) gave Texas A&M Aggies (5-0) all they could handle in the Aggies 57-46 hard-fought win. This was a defensive struggle as the Lady Panthers shot only 30% while the Lady Aggies registered 29% shooting from the field. Texas A&M found themselves down 45-44 with 4:04 left in regulation before Kayla Wells, Destiny Pitts, and Jordan Nixon secured victory for the Aggies with timely three-point baskets. Nixon and Pitts finished the game with 12 points each, and Wells contributed 10 points for the Aggies. Pittsburg Liatu Kings had a game, scoring 10 points and grabbing 19 boards, and Dayshanette Harris came off the bench for the Panthers to score a game-high 16 points.

On Friday, November 26, 2021, Northwestern University will take on the University of Pittsburgh at 6:45 p.m. Texas A&M will do battle with South Dakota University in the Reef Division.

This event is being held with the blessing of the Virgin Islands Department of Health. The Sport and Fitness Center doors are open to both the vaccinated and non-vaccinated.

Here are the procedures.

For vaccinated individuals, you must walk with your vaccination card or prove that you have taken the vaccine. A picture ID is also required before entry.

Non-vaccinated spectators must produce a negative COVID test result no more than two days old. The Department of Health will be conducting free on-site testing on individuals who are not vaccinated but desire to attend the tournament. Those individuals must also show identification upon entering the arena. So, everyone is invited to journey to the Sports and Fitness Center and enjoy top-quality college basketball.

Here are the times the DOH will be conducting on-site testing.

Friday, November 26, 2021: 12 p.m. – 3 p.m.
Saturday, November 27, 2021: 12 p.m. – 3 p.m.

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