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Autumn Johnson | November 26, 2020

Recap of the first day of the 2020-21 women's basketball season

The 2021 women's NCAA bracket, predicted opening week

Leading into Thanksgiving, it was evident that many women's college basketball teams were thankful hoops were finally back after not suiting up since March.  

12 ranked women's basketball teams resumed unfinished business on Nov. 25. Fans saw a preview of rookies coming into their own, transfers meshing with new teammates and returning players coming in with a chip on their shoulder. 

Missed some of the action? Here's some highlights of the first day of the 2020-21 women's basketball season: 

The Gamecocks made a point that they're ranked No. 1 for a reason

South Carolina won their season opener by 81 points defeating the Charleston Cougars, 119-38. Naismith Coach of the Year Dawn Staley showed that she has incredible talent and depth being able to sub five in, five out at a time. The stat sheet reflected this by having seven players scoring in double-digits.

Being tasked with more minutes this season as a starter, junior forward Victaria Saxton led the charge with a double-double, recording 19 points and 12 rebounds. With Ty Harris now playing for the WNBA, Zia Cooke has big shoes to fill in the point guard position. Cooke stepped up to that challenge with 18 points after knocking off some rust in the start of the game. 

South Carolina will take on South Dakota on Saturday, Nov. 28 at 3:30 p.m. ET.


Stanford starts the 2020-21 season off strong 

We've talked about the Cardinal non-stop in the preseason. The Pac-12 favorites' potential is limitless — bringing back nine dominant returners, who were led by junior guard Lexie Hull – who knocked down 19 points. This team showed just that against Cal Poly winning their first game, 108-40. 

Stanford Lexie Hull

It was great to see Haley Jones return to the starting lineup after she suffered a season-ending knee injury. Jones recorded a double-double putting up 16 points and grabbing down 10 rebounds. The No. 3 recruit in the country Cameron Brink also had an impressive debut coming off the bench to put up 17 points. The talent on this team is going to be fun to watch as head coach Tara VanDerveer has endless combinations to work with. 

Stanford's next game against Pacific has been canceled. The Cardinal's next game is scheduled for Dec. 4th against Washington State. The time is TBD. 

MORE: Here's at least one thing to know about every team in the women's college basketball AP top 25

The "Kara Era" at Duke looks bright 

Duke's new head coach Kara Lawson dreamed of the day she would be able to lead her own team. That day finally came on Wednesday, starting off strong with a 94-64 win against Longwood. Jaida Patrick had a career-high of 21 points along with 7 rebounds and five assists. Even though fouls were an issue in the second quarter, Patrick was one of five players who recorded double-digit scoring.

The future looks bright for Lawson and the Duke Blue Devils. Here's a pre-game speech she shared with her team ahead of their first tip-off to start the Kara Era: 

Duke will battle Western Carolina on Sunday, Nov. 29 at 2 p.m. ET. 

Destiny Slocum makes a nice transition into Arkansas 

Oregon State transfer Destiny Slocum came into her debut with Arkansas strong. Slocum helped the Razorbacks to a 96-49 win against Oral Robert, scoring 22 points. Redshirt senior guard Chelsea Dungee trailed after her in scoring chipping in 17 points.

It's going to be fun watching these two compete together along with Amber Ramirez — who will make a dangerous trio in Arkansas. The Razorbacks will take on Wake Forest on Friday, Nov. 27 11:30 a.m. ET.  

Top teams and players who missed the action

  • Player of the Year Finalist Rhyne Howard did not play in Kentucky's game opener against Murray State after being suspended for two games for "not upholding the standards of the program". Senior forward Tatyana Wyatt was also suspended for three games. Neither was COVID-19 related. 
  • We will not see UConn in action in the beginning of the season. A member of the women's basketball program — who has not been released — has tested positive for COVID-19. Four of the Huskies' games have been canceled, which means we will not see the anticipated rookie match up between Paige Bueckers and Louisville's Hailey Van Lith on Dec. 4th. 

*Other canceled Games: No. 9 UCLA vs CSU Fullerton and No. 20 Ohio State vs Akron. 

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