College basketball in the tropics during Thanksgiving week – a tradition like no other.
At this week’s Baha Mar Pink Flamingo Championship, which featured some of the very best teams and players in women’s basketball over two days, those who checked in to see what the event was all about were treated to stars and shining moments in Nassau, the capital and largest city of the Bahamas.
With the annual meeting at the Baha Mar Convention Center already a year in the making, there was much to learn from the eight games that took place. For some teams in the field there is more good to take away than others.
Here’s a recap of everything that happened at the Baha Mar Pink Flamingo Championship, with who and what impressed, along with some of the storylines that emerged from the two-day event in the Caribbean.
All the action was broadcast live on FloHoops.
Kitley dominates to keep Hokies undefeated
Still trying to get rid of the sour taste of an NCAA Tournament last season – the Hokies, seeded No. 5, lost to 12th-seeded Florida Gulf Coast in the first round of March Madness a year ago – Virginia Tech entered this season like a team on a revenge tour.
At the moment, the team is certainly playing like it has something to prove, and those emotions were evident at the Baha Mar.
Tech stormed out to a 29-8 lead in the first quarter and managed to roll out the rest of the way in Monday’s opening win against Kentucky, then the Hokies stepped on the accelerator in the second half of a 73 win -57 against Missouri to close out the show on Wednesday.
They are unbeaten 5-0 this year and pass with flying colors the first tests of the season against big opponents.
The nation’s No. 11-ranked team, the Hokies, currently hold opponents to just 48.2 points per game on the season while dominating the glass themselves, with foes limited to averaging just 27.6 rebounds per game for a rate the second is in the countryside (from Wednesday evening).
Much of that has to do with the play of six-foot senior center – and reigning Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year – Elizabeth Kitley and her double-double average to start the year (19.0 points, 11.0 rebounds per night), but Tech wouldn’t have looked as good in the Bahamas if it weren’t for her supporting cast.
Have a day @elizabethkitley 👏👏
✅ have the dubbing
📈 reached another milestone
Proud of you 3️⃣3️⃣ pic.twitter.com/kCIq72ygzy
— Virginia Tech Women’s Basketball (@HokiesWBB) November 24, 2022
Kitley’s 25-point performance against the Wildcats was accompanied by double-digit scores from Ashley Owusu, Taylor Soule and Georgia Amoore, while Kayana Traylor added a team-high 18 points from the bench in the victory over the Tigers.
Don’t be shocked if the Hokies rise above their current ranking – and if they play well into March, too.
Utah remains perfect after back-to-back wins
Besides Virginia Tech, Utah was the other team in the Baha Mar Pink Flamingo Championship field to keep a perfect record intact, which also improved to 6-0, thanks in large part to an electric attack that is the second highest score in America on a lightning fast rate of 95.0 points per game.
Just two years away from just five wins, the Utes looked spectacular this year under coach Lynne Roberts, with wins over Alabama and Ole Miss to boost their resumes for what they hope will be the program’s first repeat trip to the NCAA. tournament will be. since 2008 and 2009.
Junior forward Alissa Pili, a USC transfer, looks set to rediscover the form that helped her become Pac-12 Freshman of the Year with the Trojans during the 2019-2020 season.
She passes Utah with 18.5 points and 4.7 rebounds per game — including a game-high 21 in her team’s nail-biting 69-67 victory over the Rebels on Wednesday to conclude her stint at the Baha Mar.
But it’s elite shooting numbers from all over the floor (52.4% from the field, third in the nation) that make the Utes go, and while Pili’s ridiculous current clip of 68.1% from the floor is a major reason, she’s only one of six Utah players to make at least half of their shots.
Super sophomore Gianna Kneepkens (14.8 points per game, 43.8% of 3-point range) and Jenna Johnson (14.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists per game) also do their part to make sure ensuring that Utah remains a dangerous team to play for the remainder of the slate at the start of the season and eventual conference play.
Ole Miss’s coach returns to the Bahamas
The Baha Mar Pink Flamingo Championship marked a special homecoming for at least one person in particular.
Ole Miss coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin is a Freeport, Bahamas native with deep connections building and growing the sport in the islands in multiple ways, with a rich talent pool that includes Indiana Pacers guard Buddy Hield and former WNBA MVP Jonquel Jones.
McPhee-McCuin was the first Bahamian woman to sign a Division I national letter of intent when she played for Rhode Island in the early 2000s. United States for multiple programs.
— Ole Miss Women’s BB (@OleMissWBB) November 24, 2022
The Rebels’ fifth-year coach broke barriers and made history by jumping on an assistant coach for the Bahamian men’s national team during the ongoing FIBA World Cup qualifying campaign.
Returning to the Caribbean for a homecoming with her Ole Miss squad, McPhee-McCuin should be pleased with how the Rebels have fared in the first few games of the year.
Ole Miss started his time at the event with a 63-50 victory over Dayton on Monday, and while the Rebels weren’t quite able to pull off a narrow victory over a talented Utah team, a 5-1 start to the season for sure. nothing to be ashamed of, especially when senior Angel Baker (14.2 points, 2.2 steals per game) plays as one of the best two-way guards in the Southeastern Conference.
While it may not have been a perfect return to the Bahamas for McPhee-McCuin – a second win on the trot would have helped it there – her team got a taste of an elite talent in her homeland and an experience that could help it learn on more than one way.