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The Women Go Next

Paradise Jam Women’s Tournament begins Thursday. (Photo by Mark J Daniel)

Paradise Jam 2023 has bid farewell to the men’s teams and has fully turned its attention to the main attraction, the Women’s Tournament. Twenty-three years ago, this event was born with only collegiate women’s teams. It was played at the Ivanna Eudora Kean High School Gymnasium. Over the years, Paradise Jam has consistently attracted top women’s programs from around the country. This year’s field is no different.

The eight teams are divided into two divisions, Island and Reef. Let’s meet the four teams that will be participating in the Island Tournament.

Island Tournament

The University of Colorado Buffaloes is the team to watch out for in the Island Division.  The Lady Buffaloes started their season with an upset win over the defending champions, the Louisiana State University Tigers. Colorado is seeking to improve on their Sweet 16 NCAA Tournament appearance from one year ago. The Buffaloes come with a wealth of experience as their starting lineup features two graduate students, two seniors, and one junior. Colorado is 4-0 and is currently ranked number 3 in the Women’s AP poll.

The University of Colorado will face the University of Cincinnati Bearcats at 2:00 p.m. Thursday at the Elridge Blake Sports and Fitness Center. The Bearcats come into this event with a 2-1 record. Their only loss of the season came at the hands of number 17 Louisville University.  The Bearcats are led by senior Jillian Hayes, graduate student Mya Jackson, senior Maiea Williams, and sophomore A’riel Jackson.

NC State University Wolfpack is the other featured team in this division. The Wolfpack are currently ranked 11th in the AP poll. They sport a 4-0 record with a signature win against the University of Connecticut. The Wolfpack are coming off a great season but it left a bitter taste in their mouths as they lost their final two games of the season. The first of the two was against Notre Dame in the quarter-finals of the 2023 Atlantic Coast Conference Women’s Championships. The second was a 1-point loss to Princeton in the first round of the Women’s NCAA Tournament. The Wolfpack are on a mission for the 2023-2024 campaign.

NC State will take on the University of Kentucky Wildcats at 4:15 pm Thursday in the Elridge Blake Sports and Fitness Center. The Wildcats are 2-2 in this young season. Head Coach Kyra Elzy has a young team that will have to mature quickly if they are going to compete with the teams in this division. The team is led by Ajae Petty, Saniah Tyler, Amiya Jenkins, and Eniya Russell.

We will look at the teams in the Reef Division in our next article.

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