November 13, 2023 

Locked On Women’s Basketball: Vegas fun and WCC preview

“This is an incredibly talented team — there is talent up and down the roster."

The women’s college basketball season could not have started with a better opening night — and The Next was there for it.

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On today’s episode of Locked On Women’s Basketball, Monday host Missy Heidrick welcomes Matthew Walter, who was in Las Vegas for the first night of the season and saw two Pac-12 teams pull off big upsets. First, No. 21 USC took down No. 7 Ohio State 83-74. Then, defending national champion and No. 1 LSU was beaten by No. 21 Colorado, 92-78.

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Heidrick and Walter break down those two games Walter was at, with his takeaways on each team. In particular, USC freshman Juju Watkins stood out with her scintillating collegiate debut: 32 points, six rebounds and five assists.

“Talking to [USC head coach] Lindsay Gottlieb at media day, she talked so much about how they were trying to put Watkins in space and try to let her go to work,” Walter said. “You say things at media day and go, ‘Okay, but let’s see it when we get to basketball games.’ And she showed up.”

Walter was especially impressed by how Watkins was able to stay in the game through to the end despite picking up a fourth foul in the third quarter. Heidrick also made note of how much of a matchup problem USC post player Rayah Marshall was for the Buckeyes, finishing with 18 points, 17 rebounds and six steals while also holding Ohio State star Cotie McMahon to seven points on 3-of-11 shooting.

“I think that shows what a force Rayah Marshall is for Lindsay Gottlieb and USC,” Heidrick said.

In the second game, Walter was especially impressed with Colorado’s grittiness.

“They’re not the kind of team that’s going to play flashy, they’re not going to do anything crazy,” Walter said. “They are just going to play tough, hard-nosed basketball. They grind you on defense, they make you work every offensive possession. And they have really solid players on offense.”

Heidrick and Walter also took a look around at some other big games from the first week of action, highlighted by No. 3 Iowa holding off No. 8 Virginia Tech in Charlotte, NC State upsetting No. 2 UConn and No. 15 Stanford blasting No. 9 Indiana. 

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Then, Heidrick and Walter shift to previewing the West Coast Conference, which Walter covers as a beat for The Next. Can anyone in the WCC take down perennial powerhouse Gonzaga?

Walter says … don’t expect it.

“This is an incredibly talented team, there is talent up and down the roster,” Walter said. “They put together a very difficult schedule. They play Alabama, they play Louisville, they play Stanford, they play Cal, they play South Dakota State, they play Arizona and they already played Washington State and Toledo, all teams that are Power Five teams or tournament teams.”

Walter believes that Gonzaga has the talent and roster to be “like a Power Five team,” something Heidrick agrees with. But there is still talent throughout the WCC, which saw Portland win the conference tournament last year and make the WCC a two-bid conference. Walter says the team to watch that could be able to do that this year is Pacific.

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Here at The Next, in addition to the 24/7/365 written content our staff provides, we also host the daily Locked On Women’s Basketball podcast. Join us Monday through Saturday each week as we discuss all things WNBA, collegiate basketball, basketball history and much more. Listen wherever you find podcasts or watch on YouTube.

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