NEW YORK — There was a feast of women’s college basketball over the Thanksgiving week.
Tournaments in Las Vegas, Florida and Mexico pitted some of the nation’s best players and teams against each other.
The game of the week featured No. 3 South Carolina playing sixth-ranked Notre Dame in the final of the Gulf Coast Showcase. The Irish came away with a 92-85 victory, rallying from a 12-point, second-quarter deficit.
“Our young team, this is great for them,” South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said. “As much as you try to tell them there’s another level of competition out there, until they face it — in defeat — that’s when the learning takes place.”
Stanford already has shown it’s grown a bit since the start of the season a few weeks ago. The Cardinal were routed by Ohio State by 21 points in the season opener. The teams played again on Saturday night in the Play4Kay championship game and the Buckeyes needed overtime to win.
“It was definitely a different look from when we played them the first time,” said Kelsey Mitchell, who was named MVP of the event. “I knew something would be different. They’re a great team with a great coach.”
Mitchell had her own eventful weekend. Besides winning MVP, she set the NCAA record for most 3-pointers made in her career by passing the mark set by UConn great Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis. Mitchell has hit over 400 3-pointers.
Other things that happened this week:
STEPPING RIGHT IN: Most teams would struggle if an All-American went down to injury. Most teams aren’t top-ranked UConn. The Huskies lost Katie Lou Samuelson to a midfoot sprain in their win over California on Nov. 18. She was replaced in the starting lineup against No. 5 UCLA on Tuesday by Azura Stevens, who sat out last year after transferring from Duke. Stevens had a disappointing first start, only scoring six points with five rebounds in the Huskies’ win over the Bruins.
She had a much better game against Michigan State on Saturday with 25 points, 16 rebounds and five assists.
“I definitely didn’t play as well as I wanted to and contribute to the team,” Stevens said. “That had been on my mind for a couple of days.”
POLL WATCH: No. 24 Arizona State had a rough time in Mexico, losing to Green Bay and No. 7 Mississippi State. The Sun Devils most likely will fall out of the poll on Monday. There will be a little movement in the top 10 with both UCLA and South Carolina losing games.
TEAM TO WATCH: Minnesota moved to 7-0 on the season after winning UNLV’s tournament over the weekend. It’s the first Thanksgiving tournament title in nine years for the Gophers, who were led by freshman Destiny Pitts. She hit six 3-pointers and had nine rebounds in the title game to earn tournament MVP honors. The Gophers play at North Carolina next on Wednesday and potentially have a favorable schedule that could lead them to be unbeaten headed into Big Ten play.
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