The 20th anniversary of Paradise Jam wrapped up with two top-10 matchups and the two best teams in the AP Top 25 falling Saturday, Nov. 30, at the University of the Virgin Islands Sports and Fitness Center.
Virgin Islander Aliyah Boston put on a show for the 2,400 fans that showed up for the tournament’s final game. She scored 20 points and grabbed 13 rebounds as she and her University of South Carolina teammates defeated No. 2 Baylor, 74-59. Boston was named the Island Division MVP.
Baylor scored eight of the games first 10 points, but Mikiah Herbert Harrigan’s three-pointer with just under four minutes left in the period tied the game at 14. Victaria Saxton’s layup with five seconds left in the quarter gave the Gamecocks a 22-19 lead to the end of the first period.
That basket was part of a 10-0 run that, by its end, put USC up 26-19 with just over nine minutes to go in the half. A Boston layup put the Gamecocks up by double-digits, 32-21, with just under seven and a half minutes to go in the quarter.
Baylor closed the half by going on a 14-6 run and trailed by three at the half, 38-35.
Baylor got within two when T’ea Cooper split a pair of free throws with under five and a half minutes left. The Bears cut it to one point with just under two minutes remaining in the quarter. But they couldn’t overtake South Carolina and trailed 51-48 going into the final period of play.
Caitlin Bickle’s layup with 8:15 made the score 54-52, but Boston’s 10th rebound and 14th point gave the Gamecocks a five-point edge with just over six minutes left. Cooper’s three on the games next possession cut it two – but that was a close as the Bears got down the stretch.
No. 8 Louisville Cardinals sent shockwaves through the women’s college basketball world when they knocked off the top-rated Oregon Ducks, 72-62.
Oregon was up 24-13 after the first quarter but Louisville outscored Oregon 23-4 over a 10 minute stretch late in the second period to midway through the third, giving the Cardinals a 12-point lead, 44-32, with seven minutes left in the third. They went into the fourth quarter with a nine-point lead.
Kylee Shook’s layup pushed the Cardinals’ lead up to 10 with just over five minutes left in the game. Oregon cut the deficit to six after Sabrina Ionescu hit a three-pointer with a minute and a half left in the game. But Louisville finished the game by hitting six of six from the free-throw line to secure the upset.
Shook had 18 points and 15 rebounds in the victory while Satau Sabally had a game-high 21 points in the loss.
In the third game of the day, Washington State shot five of six from the floor in the game’s first three minutes and built a 11-7 lead. Indiana fought back and Grace Berger’s layup with about four and a half minutes left tied the game at 13. The Hoosiers closed the quarter on an 11-2 run and led 24-18 after the first period.
A Jayleen Penn three-pointer with eight minutes to play in the first half gave IU a 31-24 lead. Washington State cut the deficit to three with five and a half minutes left but the Hosiers then scored 14 straight points and led 45-28 at the half.
Indiana dominated the third quarter and had built a 28-point lead with just under four minutes left and went into the fourth up 65-39. They won 78-44.
Ali Packard was the Paradise Jam Player of the Game with 15 points and eight rebounds while Borislava Hristova had 16 points in the loss.
In the only game of the tournament that did not feature a ranked team, Oklahoma State built a 13-point lead in the first half with seven minutes left in the second quarter but the University of Texas-Arlington cut the deficit to five and the score was 27-22 at halftime.
The Lady Mavericks came all the way back to tie the game at 36 with 30 seconds left in the third quarter. Five minutes into the fourth quarter they were down by 10 and never recovered as Oklahoma State held on for the 60-47 victory. The win earned the Cowgirls third place with a 1-2 tournament record, while UTA left paradise winless.
Vivian Gray’s 21 points earned her the Paradise Jam Player of the Game honor and Ayisa Evans had 19 points in the loss.