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Top women’s hoops teams leave continent for Thanksgiving tournaments

Thanksgiving week has always been an opportunity for teams to escape to warmer climates to play quality basketball…

Thanksgiving week has always been an opportunity for teams to escape to warmer climates to compete in quality basketball tournaments and bond as a group.

This year is no different as seven of the country’s top ten teams leave the mainland to play games in the Cayman Islands, Bahamas and U.S. Virgin Islands.

No. 2 UCLA, No. 6 UConn, No. 7 LSU and No. 9 Virginia Tech are all traveling to the Cayman Islands to play in the inaugural women’s tournament. The only matchup between them will be Friday when the Bruins take on the Huskies. It’s unclear if Angel Reese will join the Tigers on the trip. She missed the last two games after being on the bench for the second half of the previous game.

“You always have to deal with locker room issues,” Mulkey said Monday night after LSU beat Texas Southern 106-47 in the second straight game Reese missed for undisclosed reasons.

“Sometimes you know them all. Sometimes no. Sometimes you want to know more than you have a right to know,” Mulkey continued. “I will protect my players – always. They are like family.

Third-ranked Colorado will face No. 10 North Carolina State in the Virgin Islands on Saturday. No. 8 USC is located in the Bahamas.

Top-ranked South Carolina will be home for the holidays, but coach Dawn Staley is no stranger to what a holiday tournament can bring for her team.

“I think it’s very helpful to get out of your normal environment, your normal habits of being at home, otherwise it’s not a natural road game,” she said. “When you’re in another country, you tend to be a little closer to each other. You also get to experience other things, not just practices and games, you go sightseeing, you take pictures and you talk about how they feel and what’s going on.

Teams can also find quality tournaments on American soil this week. No. 4 Stanford will travel to Nevada and fifth-ranked Iowa will go to Florida. The Cardinal could face No. 13 Florida State and the Hawkeyes could potentially meet No. 18 North Carolina.

Here are some other things to look forward to:


Maryland fell out of the Top 25 for the first time in 13 years on Monday. The Terrapins will have a good chance to return next week with games this weekend in Cancun, Mexico against No. 23 Washington State, Green Bay and Gonzaga.


Notre Dame will unveil a statue of Hall of Fame women’s basketball coach Muffet McGraw outside the Joyce Center on December 17.

McGraw won 848 of her 936 victories at Notre Dame where she coached from 1987 to 2020. She won titles at the school in 2001 and 2018.


AP Sports Writer Pete Iacobelli contributed to this story.


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