WAC Vegas has been fun in the first two days of action, right?
We had a buzzer-beater to open the 2023 WAC Tournament. There have been two upsets as both 11-seeds upset the 6-seeds. All three teams still in the transition phase won their first-ever WAC Tournament games. Along with that, all three were in dramatic fashion, too.
There has been one overtime game, some big time scoring performances, an enough intrigue with late-night ball games to catch the attention of the country.
Here are some thoughts from the first two days of WAC Vegas.
Transition Teams Creating Chaos
It is safe to say the transition teams are going to cause a problem at WAC Vegas. The Utah Tech men’s and women’s basketball teams along with the Tarleton men’s basketball team. All three won their first-ever Division I postseason games. And all three did it in dramatic fashion.
First, the Utah Tech women got out to an 11-0 lead over Utah Valley on Monday. However, it took a pair of Emily Isaacson free throws to seal the win for the four-point win for the Trailblazers. Now, 5-seed Utah Tech faces 4-seed California Baptist on Wednesday for a chance to head to the semifinals. Head coach JD Gustin was quite emotional following the win.
Second, Tarleton got out to a 17-point lead early over UTRGV on Tuesday. Then, in an explosive moment with just over six minutes to play, the Texans went crazy. Shamir Bogues drew an offensive foul, knocked down a jumper and then found Freddy Hicks for a hammer dunk. The Texans held on for dear life in as UTRGV made a run late to earn a spot in Thursday’s quarterfinals.
“Great win for Tarleton basketball,” head coach Billy Gillispie said.
Third, the Utah Tech men won an instant classic in Tuesday’s nightcap. In a back-and-forth game, it was a transition layup in overtime that really sealed the win for Jon Judkins and the Trailblazers. Cam Gooden had a game-high 22 points in the win.
“These guys didn’t want to lose. They were fighting their butts off to win this,” Utah Tech head coach Jon Judkins said.
If any of these three teams win their respective tournaments, it will create even more chaos. Especially because all three are not eligible for the NCAA Tournament. Keep an eye on that moving forward when each team takes the floor.
Big Time Performances Aplenty
There have been some big time performances throughout the first two days of WAC Vegas. ACU guard Maleeah Langstaff had 26 points in Game 1. However, Mikayla Woods score nine points late to lead Sam Houston to the comeback win.
Utah Tech seniors Breaunna Gillen and Maggie McCord combined for 35 points in Game 2. Molly Kaiser led New Mexico State to a first round win with a game-high 25 points in Game 3. Taliyah Clark had 23 points and Asta Blauenfeldt hit key 3-pointers late in the fourth quarter to lead Seattle U to an upset win over UT Arlington.
On Tuesday, CBU guard Tre Armstrong converted multiple 4-point plays and had 23 points to lead CBU to the quarterfinals. Ray Harrison, playing with a massive chip on his shoulder, had 30 points in his first WAC Tournament ball game. Jakorie Smith had a career-high 26 points to lead Tarleton to its first-ever Division I postseason win. And Cam Gooden had 22 points to lead Utah Tech to its first-ever Division I postseason win in an overtime thriller.
This is all in two days at WAC Vegas. What more does the week have in store for us?
Entertaining Street Fights to Open WAC Vegas
Back and forth. Big shot after big shot. Teams getting a lead only to see that lead evaporate on the following possession. The first two days of WAC Vegas have been as entertaining as it gets in a conference tournament. Outside of maybe one game…sorry New Mexico State and UTRGV, each game has had a script that has been unrivaled. Punch after punch, getting knocked off your feet early on only to get back on your feet and create a chaotic ending.
Pace of play has been really good. Teams shooting at high percentages. Confidence, Emotion. Control.
The first two days of WAC Vegas have had it all.
Talking about emotion, when the adrenaline from the street fight calms down, the post game emotion boils over. From JD Gustin tearing up talking about his senior group, to Nigel Hawkins getting emotional talking about what it means to be a Lumberjack.
WAC Vegas has had it all in the first two days of the 2023 WAC Tournament.
What will Day 3 bring? Stay tuned!