Marquee matchups across the country
The only thing better than having four ranked matchups in the same day is when they have staggered start times, maximizing the consecutive number of hours I can sit on my couch watching women’s basketball.
Starting with the Big 10, undefeated #11 Michigan traveled to Columbus to take on #17 Ohio State. While it may have looked like a basketball game, it was actually the Naz Hillmon show. The junior forward scored 50, yes, 50 points for the Wolverines on 20/30 shooting and added 16 rebounds for good measure.
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Hillmon’s point total is the highest in Michigan basketball history, and while the record is nice, her teammates have some explaining to do as Ohio State still managed to win the game 81-77. Wolverines not named Hillmon shot just 25% including 2/20 from beyond the arc.
All of the Buckeye’s starters scored double digits, and their next three games are all against ranked Big 10 opponents. If Ohio State can stay hot they will be at the top of the conference standings next week.
Next up was a less contested matchup between SEC foes #22 Georgia and #4 South Carolina. Aliyah Boston is still just a sophomore but she might be the most dominant inside force in all of college basketball. Boston posted a triple double with 16 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 blocks. Why teams are still trying to score in the paint against her is a mystery to me.
The Gamecock defense was the difference in this game, holding the Bulldogs to only 28 points in the first three quarters. Georgia finally started to hit shots at the end of the game, but it was too little too late and Dawn Staley’s squad won by a comfortable 12 points.
Arguably the biggest rivalry in women’s basketball, Tennessee vs. UConn never fails to disappoint. The Lady Vols had a small lead for the majority of the game, due in part to the poor shooting from freshman phenom Paige Bueckers.
Everything changed in the fourth when Evina Westbrook hit a pair of triples to give the Huskies the lead which they would not relinquish. Westbrook is the first player to ever transfer from Tennessee to UConn, so it was fitting she would be the hero. Bueckers avenged her early game woes with a dagger three of her own, putting the game out of reach for good with a final of 67-61.
The night cap was between ACC programs #1 Louisville and #23 Syracuse. The Orange kept pace with the countries new number one team, only down two at halftime behind the stellar play of Emily Engstler of the bench. But in the second half the Cardinals star-power was too much too handle, as Dana Evans and Haley Van Lith finished with 21 and 18 respectively.
Tonight’s game to watch is at 10:00, when #5 Stanford takes on #6 UCLA in a Pac-12 showdown.