The 2019 Las Vegas Holiday Hoops Classic field features a competitive slate of six mid-major teams. The tournament will give fans two-days of exciting contests as four of the programs set to compete in Vegas saw postseason play during the 2018-19 season.
The participating programs span coast to coast and include Georgia Southern, Kent State, Pacific, St. Francis Brooklyn, Toledo and Troy. Games will take place at the four-star South Point Hotel and Casino, a sprawling family-friendly entertainment resort.
Georgia Southern Eagles
Georgia Southern enters 2019-20 with a brand-new coaching staff led by Anita Howard who had tremendous success at the Division II level. With a stellar 66-25 record over three seasons at Columbus State, Howard has the pedigree to take on the task of rebuilding Georgia Southern. Over half of the team consists of upperclassmen, including five seniors. The experienced roster will give Howard a strong foundation as she begins her DI coaching journey.
Kent State Golden Flashes
Coming off a 20-win season and postseason play, Kent State looks to continue its success under head coach Todd Starkey in 2019-20 as he begins his fourth year with the program. The administration gave Starkey a strong vote of confidence June by extending his contract by four years through 2023. Kent State had the second highest-scoring freshman class in the nation in 2018-19. With 80% of the team's overall scoring returning, the Golden Flashes will be a tough challenge for any squad. They face Georgia Southern in the opening game of the Las Vegas Holiday Hoops Classic.
During 2018-19, Pacific reached the postseason for the first time since 2015. While the Tigers lost to eventual WNIT champions Arizona in late March, the team had a lot to be proud of after surviving West Coast Conference play in the one of the most competitive years the league has ever seen. Pacific looks to build on last season’s 19-12 record with standout players. The team returns starters Valerie Higgins and Brooklyn McDavid. Higgins led the WCC in double-doubles and steals.
St. Francis Brooklyn College Terriers
Led by new head coach Linda Cimino, St. Francis Brooklyn had a banner season in 2018-19 finishing with an 18-13 record and a program-record 12 wins in Northeast Conference play. The last time the Terriers had a winning season was 2013-14 when the team also recorded its last conference tournament win before the Cimino era began. Returners for 2019-20 include All-NEC second team member, Australian guard Jade Johnson, the team’s leading scorer. Johnson averaged 19.9 points per game and 4.4 rebounds per contest last season. Forward Ally Lassen also comes back. She averaged double figures as well with 10.5 points per game plus 5.5 rebounds per contest. St. Francis faces Pacific on the first day of the tournament.
With a highly successful coach at the reins, Mid-American Conference powerhouse Toledo will undoubtedly be among the nation’s best mid-majors in 2019-20. The Rockets, under Tricia Cullop, the winningest coach in school history, finished last season with a 21-12 record and the best MAC home attendance. With newcomer Arianne Whitaker, a 6-2 transfer from Chattanooga, plus seven upperclassmen on the roster, Toledo is set for another impressive season. The Rockets face Troy in the first round of the tournament.
Under eighth-year head coach Chanda Rigby, Troy is poised for success after a 22-9 campaign with the second-most wins in program history and postseason play. The team returns three starters from last season including leading scorer, forward Amber Rivers, along with Jasmine Robinson and Harriet Winchester. Overall, Troy’s returners account for 82.4 percent of the team’s overall offensive output.
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2019 Las Vegas South Point Holiday Hoops Classic
*All times are PST*
12 p.m. – Kent State vs. Georgia Southern
2:30 p.m. – Toledo vs. Troy
5 p.m. - St. Francis Brooklyn vs. Pacific
12 p.m. – Troy vs. Kent State
2:30 p.m. - Georgia Southern vs St. Francis Brooklyn
5 p.m. – Pacific vs. Toledo