WAC play
The SFA women led by Stephanie Visscher open WAC play against UTRGV on Thursday. Courtesy SFA Athletics.

WAC Play Begins Thursday Afternoon in Abilene, Texas

Just as the new year dawns on Saturday of this week, WAC play also commences Thursday afternoon. I think we’re in for a pretty fun couple of months if COVID-19 doesn’t interfere. Let’s jump into the matchups…

All games broadcasted on ESPN+ and times listed are local time of the host team…

Thursday January 30, 2021

Utah Valley at Abilene Christian 1 pm CST

There are two NCAA tournament appearances in the last four years between these two programs. And in Texas, Abilene Christian makes its WAC debut against the Wolverines. Josie Williams is among the national leaders in rebounding at 12.3 per game. Williams also leads the Wolverines in scoring at 16.2 points per contest. Jamie Bonnarens averages 14.0 points to lead the Wildcats and is a 45% 3-point shooter.

Just before Christmas, the Wolverines nearly pulled off another Power 6 win but fell at the University of Utah. Abilene Christian has a win against UALR but lost their last two Division I games against Oral Roberts and Northern Colorado. WAC play gets off to a solid start with this game on Thursday afternoon.

Dixie State at Tarleton 6 pm CST

Two transitioning programs square off in this matchup. Dixie State has been competitive in their matchups against Division I competition. Meanwhile, the Texans have some nice out of conference wins including Oral Roberts, Northwestern State, and Incarnate Word. Breaunna Gillen averages 17.0 points to lead the Trailblazers while Iyana Dorsey leads the Texans at 10.3 points per game. Tarleton State is 2nd in the WAC in defensive 3-point percentage allowing just under 25% from beyond the arc. Jamie Dick of the Texans is third in the WAC in 3-point percentage at 47.4%.

WAC Play
Breaunna Gillen and Dixie State open their conference season at Tarleton on Thursday. Courtesy Breanna Biorato/Visually Breanna.

Stephen F. Austin at UTRGV 7 pm CST

Both teams have done some pretty good things against their American Athletic Conference opponents. SFA beat Houston. UTRGV pushed USF to the limit in an opening night loss. But, both have had tough losses as well. Sara Bershers and Taylor Muff are a nice one-two scoring punch for the Vaqueros combining to average 27 points, thus far.

The Lumberjacks are looking to get a sour taste from that Northwest two step out of their mouths in their WAC debut. Stephanie Visscher leads Stephen F. Austin at 13.7 points per game. Aiyana Johnson and Avery Brittingham each average 11.0 and 11.7 points, respectively.

Grand Canyon at Chicago State 7 pm CST

After two straight wins against UTSA and UC Irvine, the Lopes enter conference play with momentum. And it comes against a little different Chicago State team. The Cougars have been a bit more competitive this year. After their win at Wisconsin, the Cougars have lost four straight games by a combined 33 points including three straight by single digits. This will be Chicago State’s final campaign in the WAC.

Saturday January 1, 2022

New Mexico State at Chicago State 1 pm CST 

It’s been a struggle for both sides in ’21-’22. Brooke Atkinson’s Aggies enter WAC play as losers of six of seven against division one competition with one cancellation. Meanwhile in Chicago the Cougars have been competitive but lost four in a row headed into conference play.

Dixie State at Abilene Christian 1 pm CST

Whoever wins the WAC regular season title will undoubtedly have a sterling conference record on their home floor. If the Wildcats are going to be in that discussion they’ll need to pull off at least a split against the Utah schools as an 0-2 hole will be tough to climb out of. A lot is still unknown about the Trailblazers who have shown they can compete against division one teams but have not yet recorded a win in their new division.

Utah Valley at Tarleton 1 pm CST

These two sides had quite the competitive series in Texas as the Wolverines were able to hang on for two wins which eventually got them into the NCAA tournament when CBU defeated Grand Canyon in the WAC tournament finals. Expect more of the same as both sides return a lot from last year but also made some nice additions through the portal. Tarleton’s Jenna Dick (Eastern Washington) is third in conference three point percentage at 47.4%. Josie Williams and Maria Carvalho do a bulk of UVU’s scoring, combining to average 31 ppg. The Wolverines are first in fewest fouls per contest at just under fifteen.

Sam Houston at UTRGV 1 pm CST  

The Bearkats make their WAC debut under interim head coach Brittany Mason while UTRGV comes off of their matchup against Stephen F. Austin. Going back to November 20th the Kats have lost four of six against division one competition, losing by more than twenty in three instances.

WAC Play
Sara Bershers and UTRGV open WAC play by hosting newcomer Stephen F. Austin on Thursday. Courtesy UTRGV Athletics.

Sunday January 2, 2022

California Baptist University at Seattle University 2 pm PST 

In game one of their series a season ago, the Lancers needed a last second defensive stand to remain undefeated. Coming into this edition of their matchups at the Redhawk Center the Lancers have won four straight with three of them coming in overtime or the end of regulation. Meanwhile the Redhawks have lost three in a row against division one competition including getting swept by both Montana schools by margins of more than twenty points.







About the author

Derryl Trujillo

Derryl Trujillo is a Southern California based sportswriter who won the 2019 Inland Empire Baseball Coaches Association's Supporter of the Year award. He joined the WAC Hoops Digest staff in 2020 and also covers local sports for Inland Sports and the Valley News. Before transitioning to media Derryl was a high school, collegiate and club volleyball official along with serving as a high school basketball scorekeeper for ten years.

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