The second day of WAC Vegas is complete and as we move closer to Championship Saturday, the stakes get a little higher.
In the first two days of WAC Vegas, we have had one true blowout with seven other entertaining games. This is especially true on the women’s side. Outside of one bad third quarter on Tuesday, each of the first four games have been competitive, physical and fun to watch. And both of Tuesday’s games at the Orleans Arena were very much in tune with that narrative.
UTRGV Starts Hot, Holds Off ACU
In its two games prior to Wednesday’s matchup with Abilene Christian, UTRGV had knocked down a combined 27 3-pointers in a pair of wins. The Vaqueros hit 14 3-pointers to knock off regular season champion Stephen F. Austin to end the regular season. And then in its first game of WAC Vegas, UTRGV hit 13 3-pointers in a win over Seattle.
On Tuesday, the Vaqueros came out red hot inside the Orleans Arena. UTRGV hit five first quarter 3-pointers en route to a 73-70 win over Abilene Christian to advance to Thursday’s semifinals. UTRGV was a perfect 5-5 from 3-point land in the first quarter and 7-10 from the field. And while the Vaqueros only hit four more 3-pointers in the game, they still shot nearly 50 percent from the field overall.
A big part of that was the play of guard Jena Williams. Toward the end of the third quarter and into the fourth, Williams realized she could beat her defender off the dribble. Upon this realization, Williams told head coach Lane Lord to let her loose. And, trusting his point guard, Lord let Williams go to work. It paid off. Time after time, Williams got into the paint and either finished with a bucket or an assist to an open teammate. Williams finished with a team-high 14 points and hit a pair of free throws with 58 seconds to play to help the Vaqueros fend off Abilene Christian.
Jamie Bonnarens finished with a game-high 19 points in her final collegiate game for the Wildcats.
UTRGV will play 4-seed Utah Valley on Thursday at Noon PT at the Orleans Arena in the quarterfinals of WAC Vegas.
— UTRGV Women's Basketball (@UTRGVwbb) March 9, 2022
Cook, Telemaque Lead Sam Houston to WAC Quarterfinals
The best player on the floor on Wednesday afternoon might have been the smallest player on the floor, as well. Sam Houston’s Faith Cook finished with a game-high 23 points as the Bearkats advance to Thursday’s quarterfinals with a 73-69 win over 7-seed Lamar.
Time after time down the stretch, Cook made a play or hit a big shot from the perimeter. Head coach Ravon Justice trusts her redshirt senior point guard and the ball was in Cook’s hands every time down the floor in the fourth quarter. It also helped that teammate Damaya Telemaque made big play after big play, as well.
The biggest play might have come at the most opportune time, as well. With 17 seconds to play, Telemaque was in the right place at the right time. Faith Cook’s missed 3-pointer fell right into Telemaque’s hands. And off the offensive rebound, Telemaque found Raanee Smith for an easy layup while getting fouled. Smith calmly knocked down the free throw to seal the win for the Bearkats.
Along with Cook’s 23 points, Telemaque had 17 points, five rebounds and five assists.
Sam Houston advances to face 3-seed California Baptist at 2:30 p.m. PT at the Orleans Arena on Thursday.
— Sam Houston Women’s Basketball (@Bearkats_WBB) March 10, 2022