The 2018 Las Vegas Holiday Hoops Classic features an exciting cross-section of women’s basketball teams from around the country.
Seven programs will compete December 20 to 22 at the four-star South Point Hotel and Casino, a sprawling family-friendly entertainment complex. Participating squads include Furman, Fairfield, UTEP, Western Illinois, Jackson State, Akron and UIC. Fan room rates will be available at a later date.
Furman looks to build on an 18-win season with head coach Jackie Carson moving into her eighth year as head coach of alma mater. The team’s 2017-18 campaign included a postseason run that lasted into the second round of the WBI tournament. In the coming season, the Paladins will consist primarily of freshman and sophomores with a transfer from Presbyterian waiting in the wings as they look to build on last season’s win total.
While Fairfield’s 2017-18 season concluded in the MAAC quarterfinals, the team had a successful conference season, recording 11-straight winning seasons in the league. Most of the young squad returns as the Stags look to have another successful MAAC campaign under head coach Joe Frager.
In his first season as UTEP’s head coach, Kevin Baker guided the Miners to a 17-14 record. UTEP returns four letter winners including point guard Jordan Alexander who averaged 8.4 points and 6.0 rebounds per game. The Miners will also have the help of two players who sat out last season as redshirts.
Western Illinois made waves last season with statement wins including a road victory over Pac-12 powerhouse Stanford. WIU finished the season with an impressive 22-10 record. The triumph over Stanford marked the first time that the Leathernecks toppled a nationally-ranked opponent. While WIU loses Emily Clemens, the program’s all-time leading scorer, the program adds promising transfers and Spanish phenom Carla Flores.
Jackson State enters the season with a new head coach, Tomekia Reed.
JSU finished 2017-18 at 15-13 overall and 10-8 in the SWAC. The team returns leading scorers Christina Ellis and Marneisha Hamer to help the Tigers work on topping last season’s record.
Akron is also under new leadership. Melissa Jackson takes over the program after spending six years as the associate head coach. Jackson will be instrumental in guiding a young squad with just one senior plus a graduate student. The team returns leading scorers Megan Sefcik and Shaunay Edwards.
The Tasha Pointer era begins at UIC this coming season as the school hired the experienced coach in early April to revitalize the program.
Pointer will have a solid foundation to build on as the Flames return leading scorers, guard Brittany Byrd and guard/forward Taylor Toney.
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2018 Las Vegas South Point Holiday Hoops Classic
Day 1 – Thursday, December 20
12 pm - Furman vs. Fairfield
2:30 pm - UTEP vs Western Illinois
5:00 pm - Jackson State vs. Akron
Day 2 – Friday, December 21
12 pm - Fairfield vs. UIC
2:30 pm - Akron vs. UTEP
5:00 pm - Western Illinois vs. Furman
Day 3 – Saturday, December 22
11:00 am - UIC vs. Jackson State