The 2019 South Point Shootout begins this week with an exciting lineup. The tournament, set for November 29 and 30 in Las Vegas at the four-star South Point Hotel and Casino, includes Alabama, Detroit, Nebraska, Northern Illinois, Northern Iowa, Sacred Heart, South Dakota, Ohio State, Tennessee Tech and USC.
Alabama (4-1) comes into the tournament on a four-game winning streak with three wins on the road. This bodes well for the Crimson Tide who will face Northern Iowa for the second time in program history on Friday. Alabama plays USC on Saturday for the first time. Senior guard Cierra Johnson paces Alabama with 12.2 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.4 steals per contest off the bench. UA excels in the second quarter outscoring its opponents 115-56 in that period.
Detroit Mercy (0-6) takes on Sacred Heart and Tennessee Tech, respectively in the tournament. The Titans will seek their first win of the season in Las Vegas with a talented freshman leading the way. First-year guard Sylare Starks, who was named the Horizon League Freshman of the Week on Monday, averaged 12.5 points per game and shot 50-percent from 3-point range and 87-percent from the free throw line last week. She leads the team in scoring.Detroit has never faced Sacred Heart or Tennessee Tech.
Nebraska begins the tournament facing another Power 5 school, the Pac-12’s USC. With a 5-1 record including a thrilling overtime win over Missouri, the Huskers will be among the toughest programs in the tournament. Three Huskers average double-digit scoring: Leigha Brown (15.3ppg), Sam Haiby (13.2ppg), and Ashtyn Veerbeek 10.5ppg). Junior Kate Cain is on the cusp of 200 career blocks. She only needs one more to reach the milestone.
The Northern Illinois Huskies (2-3) will face Tennessee Tech and South Dakota during the weekend. Friday’s contest will be the first time NIU and Tennessee Tech have ment. The Huskies and South Dakota played each other for the first time during the 2016-17 season.
NIU is performing well on the boards and lead the MAC in rebounding, averaging 45.4 boards per game. Junior forward Riley Blackwell leads the team with 6.4 rebounds per contest followed by redshirt senior guard/forward Courtney Woods at 5.2 rebounds per game. Woods also leads the team in scoring with 20.0 points per game.
With an undefeated record, Northern Iowa (5-0) looks to stay on the winning path as the Panthers face a tough slate in Las Vegas. With Alabama and Ohio State on their South Point Shootout schedule, fans will enjoy exciting matchups between a mid-major power and Power 5 stalwarts.
Three Panthers have three players averaging double-digit scoring led by juniot guard Karli Rucker (13.0ppg). Junior forward Bre Gunnels is UNI’s rebound leader at 6.0 per contest.
Ohio State (3-2) comes into the tournament after a strong showing against national powerhouse UConn. The Buckeyes look to rebound from the loss as they face South Dakota and Northern Iowa, two strong mid-major programs. The Buckeyes are 5-0 all-time in Las Vegas and won both of their games during the 2015 South Point Shootout.
Sophomore forward Dorka Juhasz leads the team averaging 11.3 points and 10.8 rebounds per game. Junior guard Braxtin Miller is close behind, averaging 11.2 points and 5.4 rebounds per contest.
With a young roster of seven newcomers, Sacred Heart faces Detroit in the first game of the South Point Shootout. The game will mark the first-ever matchup between the programs. SHU’s game against Nebraska the next day will also be a first for the Pioneers.
Junior center Jessica Woods leads SHU with 13.6 points and 9.0 rebounds per game. She heads into the tournament with back-to-back double-doubles
South Dakota (5-1) faces Ohio State on the first day of the tournament with a tough Monday loss on their minds. The Coyotes battled hard against top 25 foe Missouri State and look to get back into the scoring column in Las Vegas and limit their defeats to just one. Senior guard Ciara Duffy leads her team with 17.7 points per game while junior center Hannah Sjerven paces the Coyotes in rebounds with 6.5 per contest closely followed by Duffy who pulls down 6.2 per game.
Tennessee Tech junior guard Kesha Brady earned the Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Week Tuesday, a good omen for the Golden Eagles as they prep for Las Vegas. She averaged 24.5 points per game over the past week, shooting 62.5 percent from the field. She also grabbed 7.5 rebounds per contest.
Overall, Tennessee Tech (3-2) has two players leading the team in rebounds: junior guard Kesha Brady and senior forward Anacia Wilkinson at 6.6 each per game.
USC’s time at the tournament will serve as a crucial tuneup for conference play in the nation’s toughest conference. With games against Nebraska and Alabama, USC (3-2) will need outstanding production from the program’s mix of talented transfers and seven true freshmen.
Grad transfer, guard Stephanie Watts, earned a place on the Preseason Watch List for the prestigious Ann Meyers Drysdale Award. She averages 11.3 points per game. Three other Trojans also average double figures with freshman guard Endyia Rogers leading the team with 12.4 points per contest.
For more information on the South Point Shootout, visit SportTours.net and @SportTours on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
2019 South Point Shootout Schedule
*All times listed are PST
Friday, November 29th
11:00 a.m. - Sacred Heart vs. Detroit Mercy
1:15 p.m. - Tennessee Tech vs NIU
3:30 p.m. - South Dakota vs Ohio State
5:45 p.m. - USC vs Nebraska
8:00 p.m. - Northern Iowa vs. Alabama
Saturday, November 30th
11:00 a.m. - Detroit Mercy vs. Tennessee Tech
1:15 p.m. - NIU vs. South Dakota
3:30 p.m. - Nebraska vs. Sacred Heart
5:45 p.m. - Ohio State vs Northern Iowa
8:00 p.m. - Alabama vs USC