June 18, 2021 

Breaking down the Cancun Challenge match-ups

Baylor, Iowa highlight elite field of teams

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The teams and schedules have been announced for the 2021 Women’s Cancun Challenge. The three-day tournament will be held from Nov. 25-27 at the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya.

Baylor, lead by first-year head coach Nicki Collen, will face Fordham on Thursday, Nov. 25 at 10 a.m. (all times EDT), then they will face Arizona State Friday, Nov. 26 at 10 a.m. and will close Saturday with a 12:30 p.m. matchup with Houston. Baylor may have lost Hall of Fame coach Kim Mulkey from last year’s elite eight-team, but they still have 2021 Wade Trophy winner NaLyssa Smith, who is poised to maintain Baylor’s elite status in women’s basketball. She also hopes to make a case to be the No. 1 pick in the 2022 WNBA draft.

This will be the fifth visit (2005, 2007, 2013, 2017) to the Cancun Challenge for Arizona State, who won all three of their games in 2013. They will tip-off their time in Cancun against Houston, a rematch of the 2021 Women’s National Invitational Tournament (WNIT) Fort Worth Region consolation final. Houston, which finished last season with a 17-8 record, defeated the Sun Devils 50-48 in that game to end last season.

The Cougars, lead by seven-year coach Ronald Hughey, concluded last season with its most wins since its 2017-18 campaign and its most wins in The American conference since joining the league and look to build on that momentum next season.

Fans can also anticipate some exciting individual performances from rising stars Caitlin Clark (Iowa) and Lauren Park-Lane (Seton Hall) when the Hawkeyes take on the Pirates on Thanksgiving Day at 4 p.m. Big Ten Freshman of the Year Caitlin Clark averaged 26.6 points and 7.1 assists per game on the way to leading Iowa to the sweet sixteen last season.

Park-Lane had a break-out 2020-21 season, named Big East Most Improved Player and All-Big East First Team behind 17.5 points and 5.4 assists per game. Both players look to build on their successes from last season and elevate the national profiles of their respective basketball programs.

The entire 2021 Women’s Cancun Challenge tournament schedule is below:

Thursday, Nov. 25
Fordham vs. Baylor, 11 a.m.
Arizona State vs. Houston, 1:30 p.m. 
Iowa vs. Seton Hall, 4 p.m.
Toledo vs. Idaho State, 6:30 p.m.
USC vs. UCF, 9 p.m. 

Friday, Nov. 26
Baylor vs. Arizona State, 11 a.m.
Houston vs. Fordham, 1:30 p.m. 
Toledo vs. Seton Hall, 4 p.m.
Iowa vs. USC, 6:30 p.m.
Idaho State vs. UCF, 9 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 27
Fordham vs. Arizona State, 11 a.m.
Baylor vs. Houston, 1:30 p.m.

All games will be broadcast through FloHoops (www.FloHoops.com).

Written by Tee Baker

Tee has been a contributor to The Next since March Madness 2021 and is currently a contributing editor, BIG EAST beat reporter and curator of historical deep dives.

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