A Quick Huddle: women’s basketball edition

Bella Baff, Associate Sports Editor

With both Tulane’s men’s and women’s basketball teams hosting the first games of their respective seasons last week, it is only appropriate that this week’s “A Quick Huddle” hones in on hoops. Last Thursday, the Green Wave women narrowly defeated Texas Southern University by a score of 62-56 in their debut game, with three players notching double digits.

The rest of the American Athletic Conference encountered similar success thus far: 11 of the 12 teams in the conference won their first game, with the outlier being the University of Houston. Last season, Tulane ranked ninth in the AAC, with a 5-11 in-conference record. Let’s check in on the other AAC teams as they gear up for the 2018-19 season.

In any discussion of women’s college basketball, it seems fitting to first speak about the University of Connecticut. Last season, UConn went 16-0 in the AAC and claimed the first seed in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament before ultimately falling to the University of Notre Dame in the semifinals on a last-second shot.

Though the Huskies have been selected as the preseason favorite to win the AAC for the sixth-consecutive year, the team looks relatively more vulnerable heading into the 2018-19 season. In April, starting forward Azura Stevens became the first UConn player to leave college early for the WNBA. The team also lost seniors Kia Nurse and Gabby Williams, both of whom were top ten picks in the 2018 WNBA draft.

Last season, when Tulane and UConn played in January, the Huskies routed the Green Wave 45-98. Though Tulane is by no means expected to defeat basketball’s goliath when the two teams meet again this January, perhaps the score will be closer with a weaker UConn team playing in New Orleans.

The University of Southern Florida was the second ranked AAC team last season, compiling a 13-3 conference record. Tulane lost both of its matchups with the Bulls last year, the first by an almost 30-point margin. Entering the 2018-19 season, the team has retained four starters and is looking to advance to its sixth NCAA tournament in the last seven years. Tulane will meet USF twice this season, in Florida in January and at home in February.

The third ranked team in 2018 was the University of Central Florida, which finished its season with a 12-4 in conference record and ultimately received a bid to the 2018 Women’s National Invitational Tournament. UCF began its season last Wednesday, scraping by a win past Pittsburgh 61-58. Tulane will face the Knights twice this season, first at home and later away.Tulane is projected to maintain its ninth place conference ranking in the 2018-19 season. Although the team has put on an impressive showing thus far, fans will have to wait until conference play begins in January to see if the team will fare any differently than last year.

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