The countdown to the 2020-21 women’s basketball season is finally over. Every week, I’m going to choose a few games to watch along with a preview of the team’s match.
Here are the three games that I will be watching during the opening week:
South Carolina’s Gamecocks No. 1 attack at home against Charleston Cougars on November 25. Expect Gamecocks to come back with a vengeance in their minds after their winning streak in 26 games was interrupted due to the spread of the coronavirus. The game is at noon Eastern on SEC Network Plus.
The Gamecocks will be without their two important seniors, but I can’t emphasize enough that the sophomore trio – Aliyah Boston, Zia Cooke and Brea Beal – will be a dominant force this season. The young players will be helped by seniors Lele Grissett and juniors Victaria Saxton and Destanni Henderson.
Cougars return four of their gunners. Junior guard Latrice Perkins appears to lead the way to Charleston, but the Cougars will have to find a way to stop Boston, Naismith’s freshman of the year, underneath.
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Arkansas returns four of its five games from last season. We will see a preview of the newly formed Big 3: Chelsea Dungee, Amber Ramirez and Oregon State transfer Destiny Slocum. Delivery is at 11:30 am on Friday, November 27.
Dungee leads the Razorbacks’ attack and enters the season at 530 points to break the program’s all-time scoring mark.
To increase the depth of Razorback, sophomores Erynn Barnum and Marquesha Davis will be tasked with helping Arkansas to remain dominant. In addition, senior shipowner Jailyn Mason is back after having lost the entire last season due to an injury.
Wake Forest senior striker Ivana Raca will return to the starting lineup as the Wake Forest offensive threat. Last season, Raca helped the Deacs reach the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament and finished fifth in the scoring conference (17.2 ppg). In this confrontation, Razorbacks will not only try to limit their play within the painting, but also prevent it from marking beyond the arc.
If Wake Forest comes out on top, it will be Deac’s first victory over a ranked opponent since 2017, when Wake Forest defeated NC State.
We will have our first clash between the top 25 of the season at 5:30 pm on Saturday, November 28, when 12th place in Maryland plays 24th in Missouri State. It must be fun to see the young Terps talent face the Bears veteran.
The Big 10 Champs lost four seniors and two transfers during the off-season, but Terps still has the Big 10 in the first year of the year, Ashley Owusu. The second guard placed second on the Terps list with 12 ppg last season and led Maryland to its fourth Big Ten title in six years.
In addition, I’m also excited to watch Angel Reese, the second recruit in the country, make his high school debut. McDonald’s All-American is the incoming freshman with the highest rating in the program’s history. The 6ft-3 kite is extremely versatile and should make an immediate impact for the Terps after losing much of its depth.
Missouri State returns 10 players and four starters to a team that reached 26-4 last season and was looking to win the MVC title. They feature Missouri Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year, Brice Calip, and conference leader rebound Jasmine Franklin.