Pairings announced for Cancun Challenge

Photo from www.gojacks.com.

The South Dakota State women’s basketball team will compete against three other perennial postseason qualifiers at the 2019 Women’s Cancun Challenge, officials from event organizer Triple Crown Sports announced Thursday.

“This will be a special experience for our student-athletes and fans,” Jackrabbit head coach Aaron Johnston said. “Triple Crown Sports always runs a first-class event and we are excited to join them in Cancun this Thanksgiving as we compete against three outstanding opponents.”

Highlighting the three-day Mayan Tournament, which will be played Nov. 28-30 at the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya, is a Nov. 29 matchup between the Jackrabbits and Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish have played in each of the last two NCAA championship games, winning it all in 2018 before falling to Baylor in the 2019 title tilt.

Notre Dame finished the 2018-19 season with a 35-4 record, but will have a different look in the upcoming campaign after all five of its starters were selected in the recent WNBA Draft.

The Jackrabbits and Notre Dame have played on two other occasions, with the Fighting Irish winning both contests. Notre Dame won the initial meeting 94-51 on its home floor during the 2013-14 season before claiming the return matchup 75-64 at Frost Arena early in the 2015-16 season.

SDSU opens the tournament with a game Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 28) against South Florida, in what will be the first-ever meeting between the two programs. The Bulls completed the 2018-19 season with a 19-16 overall record and advanced to the second round of the WNIT. Prior to last season, USF had made four consecutive appearances in the NCAA Tournament.

Completing the tournament slate is a Nov. 30 contest versus Florida Gulf Coast. It will mark the third year in a row SDSU and the Eagles have played, with each team winning on its home floor. Overall, FGCU leads the series 2-1 after defeating the Jackrabbits in their first-ever meeting during the 2013-14 season in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

FGCU posted a 28-5 record last season in winning the Atlantic Sun Conference championship and making its third NCAA appearance in a row. The Eagles have qualified for the NCAA Tournament five of the last six seasons.

South Dakota State wrapped up the 2018-19 season with its first-ever Sweet 16 appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The Jackrabbits compiled a 28-7 overall record, including a 15-1 mark in the Summit League, en route to winning both regular-season and postseason league titles. SDSU’s NCAA Tournament appearance was its second in a row and ninth in 11 seasons.

SDSU previously played in Cancun, Mexico, at the Caribbean Challenge during the 2008-09 season and the Cancun Challenge in November 2011.

Fan packages for the 2019 Women’s Cancun Challenge are available through CancunChallenge.net. Packages also include admission to the women’s Riviera Tournament, which will feature Creighton, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Temple and West Virginia over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend at the same location.

TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE

Thursday, Nov. 28

Mayan Tournament

South Dakota State vs. South Florida, 10 a.m. CT

Florida Gulf Coast vs. Notre Dame, 12:30 p.m.

Riviera Tournament

Missouri vs. New Mexico, 3 p.m.

West Virginia vs. Creighton, 5:30 p.m.

Temple vs. North Carolina, 8 p.m.

Friday, Nov. 29

Mayan Tournament

Notre Dame vs. South Dakota State, 10 a.m.

South Florida vs. Florida Gulf Coast, 12:30 p.m.

Riviera Tournament

New Mexico vs. West Virginia, 3 p.m.

North Carolina vs. Missouri, 5:30 p.m.

Creighton vs. Temple, 8 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 30

Mayan Tournament

South Florida vs. Notre Dame, 10 a.m.

South Dakota State vs. Florida Gulf Coast, 12:30 p.m.

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