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Preview: Pirates Match Up Against USC in 2021 Cancun Challenge Opener

Date: November 24, 2021

By: Jorie Mickens

A photo of the Cancun hotel is shown where the Seton Hall women's basketball team will play during Thanksgiving weekend.

Seton Hall Athletics

The Seton Hall’s women’s basketball team traveled south of the border this week for the 2021 Cancun Challenge, with the first game a Thanksgiving matinee against the University of Southern California.

The Pirates were initially supposed to play All-American Caitlin Clark and the No. 8 Iowa Hawkeyes, but because of a positive COVID-19 test within Iowa’s program, Seton Hall will take on the Trojans instead.

Seton Hall enters this matchup with a 2-1 record and are coming off an 87-77 home victory over the Lehigh Mountain Hawks. Andra Espinoza-Hunter recorded her second career double-double in that game, and all five of the Pirates’ starters scored in double figures.

Espinoza-Hunter has lived up to her preseason hype, as through the first three games of this season, she is leading the Pirates in scoring (21.0) and three-point percentage (52.4%). And her running mate, Lauren Park-Lane, has been just as impressive, as the Wilmington, Del. native ranks second on the team in scoring (19.7) and first in assists (5.6).

Mississippi State transfer Sidney Cooks has also exceeded expectations in her first two games with the Pirates, as she ranks third on the team in scoring (17.5) and is tied for first in rebounding (7.0).

USC, on the other hand, enters this game with a 3-1 record and are coming off their first loss of the season: a 61-47 defeat to Missouri State.

The Trojans were projected to finish ninth in the Pac-12 conference this season, and they’re led by Jordan Sanders, who leads the team in scoring, and Rayah Marshall, who leads the team in rebounding.

Forward Alissa Pili was shaping up to be USC’s best player this season after being named to the 2021-22 Preseason Pac-12 All-Conference Team, the Naismith Trophy Watch List and the Wooden Award Watch List. But she has been out of the Trojans’ lineups since their first game of the season against Hawaii.

The Pirates are 0-2 all-time against the Trojans, with their last matchup being nearly 18 years ago: a 70-59 Pirates’ loss on Nov. 28, 2003.

Seton Hall will look to secure their first win against this program Thursday at 4 p.m. as Wilnir Louis and Heaven Hill will be on the call for 89.5 FM WSOU.

Jorie Mickens is an Assistant Sports Director for WSOU Sports and can be reached at jorie.mickens@student.shu.edu.

Posted in: Game Previews, Sports, Women's Basketball

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