New Year's Eve
What will Utah Valley forward Jaeden Brown do for an encore after a 20-20 game to open WAC play? Courtesy Jay Drowns/UVU Marketing.

WBB: New Year’s Eve Provides Intriguing Matchups

Happy New Year’s Eve, everyone!

Can you believe the end of 2022 is finally here? Well, the final day of 2022 provides some intriguing conference matchups. And that is exactly how it should be.

There are three rivalry games on the docket. Fans finally get to see the defending champs in a conference game. And can a winless squad finally pick up its first win? How will a game against a former team go in the desert?

And how does a team respond after a thrilling double overtime win?

Let’s take a look.

Abilene Christian at Stephen F. Austin – 2 p.m. CT ESPN+

New Year’s Eve brings us an in-state matchup of two teams who are red hot. Abilene Christian has won three straight including Thursday’s conference-opening win at Tarleton. The defending WAC champs in SFA have won five straight including a win over Arizona Sate on Dec. 11.

So, what’s gonna give on Saturday afternoon in Nacogdoches? Can the veteran guards of ACU in Bella Earle and Madi Miller slow down the freshman guards of SFA in Jordan Harrison and Kyla Deck? How will ACU handle SFA’s size? Mark Kellogg has two of the best players in the WAC in Avery Brittingham and Aiyana Johnson in the paint.

SFA has won four straight in the series and nine of of the last 10 against the Wildcats. Opening night of WAC play on Thursday had some wild finishes. Could there be another at The Sawmill on Saturday?

Seattle U at UTRGV – 2 p.m. CT ESPN+

New Year’s Eve brings an intriguing matchup of two teams coming off losses in their WAC openers. Seattle U looked to be competitive for about a quarter at Sam Houston on Thursday night. But, then the wheels fell off in the second quarter when the Bearkats flexed their muscle. It’s kind of been the story for the winless Redhawks. Play well for portions of a ball game, just not a full 40 minutes.

On the flip side, Lane Lord’s Vaqueros have really struggled to score the basketball in their last two games. UTRGV scored just 47 points in a 24-point loss to Bowling Green. And then, in the WAC opener, the Vaqueros scored just 59 in a loss to New Mexico State.

So, something has to give on New Year’s Eve in Edinburg. Keep an eye on Taliyah Clark for the Redhawks and Iyana Dorsey for UTRGV. They are the playmakers and whoever has a better game, gives their team a better chance for a win to end 2022.

New Year's Eve
Iyana Dorsey (2) and UTRGV are looking to snap a 2-game losing streak when the Vaqueros host Seattle U on New Year’s Eve. Courtesy UTRGV Athletics.

Southern Utah at New Mexico State – 1 p.m. MT ESPN+

Tracy Sanders and the newcomer Southern Utah T-Birds are looking to make it a Las Cruces sweep to end 2022. The Southern Utah men opened WAC play with a win in the Pan Am Center. Now, the Southern Utah women get a chance to do the same. The T-Birds opened WAC play with a rivalry win over Utah Tech on Thursday. Southern Utah jumped out to a 26-4 lead after one quarter and basically cruised to a 76-51 win. The T-Birds had four players in double figures led by Megan Jensen’s 19-point, 10-rebound double-double.

New Mexico State got a nice road win on head coach Jody Adams birthday to open WAC play. Similar to SUU, the Aggies used a big first quarter and then went on cruise control in South Texas. Now, on New Year’s Eve, the Aggies have a chance to get back to .500 on the season and open WAC play at 2-0.

Keep an eye on the guards…Molly Kaiser for New Mexico State and Cherita Daugherty for Southern Utah.

California Baptist at Grand Canyon – 2 p.m. MT ESPN+

There are a couple of storylines coming into this New Year’s Eve matchup. First, the Lopes swept the 2021-22 season series and beat the Lancers in the WAC Tournament. Second, CBU did the same thing to GCU in the 2020-21 season. And third, GCU guard Syd Palma gets the opportunity to face her former team. Palma played for CBU prior to coming to GCU.

GCU is coming off a double overtime loss at Utah Valley on Thursday. CBU beat newcomer UT Arlington to open WAC play behind career performances from Dorcas Wu and Grace Schmidt. It should be a fun one at GCU Arena on Saturday afternoon.

Utah Valley at Utah Tech – 2 p.m. MT ESPN+

The Old Hammer Rivalry renews itself on New Year’s Eve. Can the Wolverines replicate a high-quality defensive performance from Thursday? How will Utah Tech shoot the basketball? It is all a mystery. Utah Valley is coming off a double overtime win over GCU to open WAC play. Jaeden Brown had the first 20-20 game in program history. But, the Wolverines also turned it over 31 times against GCU. How do you win a ball game with that many turnovers? Well, UVU forced 26 turnovers themselves and knocked down free throws in the overtime periods.

Utah Tech, on the other hand, has struggled since losing both Maddie and Macie Warren for the season. Prior to suffering a torn ACL, Macie Warren was averaging 18.9 points per game and shooting over 50 percent from the field. The Trailblazers need Emily Isaacson to find her stroke. Isaacson led the WAC in made 3-pointers in 2021-22.

Rivalry games are fun. And ringing in the new year with a rivalry win would be even more fun.

Tarleton at UT Arlington – 4 p.m. CT

The first night of WAC play didn’t go well for either the Texans or the Lady Mavs. Tarleton lost at home to Abilene Christian, its first home loss of the season. And the Lady Mavs got a rude welcome from CBU in a road loss in Riverside.

So, what will give on Saturday afternoon at the College Park Center? Can Starr Jacobs and the Lady Mavs get their first WAC win? Or will Teresa Da Silva and the Texans spoil a New Year’s Eve doubleheader in Arlington? It is 6-7 vs. 6-6. Who will pick up their seventh win of the 2022-23 season? Someone will be starting WAC play 0-2. Keep an eye on this matchup.

About the author

Kyle McDonald

Love everything about WAC Hoops so decided I wanted to write more about it and cover this amazing conference that just keeps getting better. Follow us on Twitter @wachoopsdigest for information, game analysis and much more.

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