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Saturday, November 25, 2017

Sports

Cougars to face Aggies in round one of the WNIT


With the majority of his team returning from last season, head coach Ronald Hughey’s team will face the Texas A&M Aggies in round one of the Preseason WNIT. | File photo/The Cougar

For the women’s basketball team, fall practice is over, and it’s time to get back on the court.

The Cougars are one of 16 teams participating in the Preseason Women’s National Invitational Tournament. With their season opener less than two weeks away, the tournament provides the Cougars an early chance to evaluate themselves.

Head coach Ronald Hughey’s team will travel to College Station to face Texas A&M in the first round. This marks the first time since 2014 that the two teams will play each other and the 59th time overall.

To face the Aggies in the first round is far from an easy task. They have qualified for the NCAA Tournament every year since the 2006-2007 season, including winning the title in 2010-2011.

The Cougars are on the opposite end of the spectrum. They have not qualified for the tournament since the 2010-2011 season, nor have they had a winning season. But last season showed hope for the squad.

In just his second season, Hughey’s team won 12 games, whereas in the past five seasons, they had not won more than six. This season will mark whether the Cougars are back to competing for a conference title, or if they are still a middle-of-the pack team.

One thing that will help is consistency. The Cougars are returning four of their top five scorers from last season. Sophomores Jasmyne and Angela Harris averaged 11.3 and 10 points per game last year,  respectively, making them the top two scorers on the team.

With the majority of the team familiar with Hughey’s system, they will be able to focus on the smaller details of the game, like better rebounding and footwork. Regardless, the WNIT should be a perfect preview of how the 2017-2018 season will go for the team.

In addition to the Aggies, there are four other teams who reached the NCAA Tournament last season: the Oregon Ducks, the Louisville Cardinals, the Drake Bulldogs and the Toledo Rockets. Oregon and Louisville both made it to the Sweet 16; Oregon even made it to the Elite Eight; and Drake and Toledo did not make it past the first round.

Once they finish their game against the Aggies, the Cougars will face either the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns or the New Orleans Privateers. Whether the games will be played in round two of the tournament or in the consolation bracket will depend on who wins Friday night.

The Cougars and Aggies will play at 7 p.m. at Reed Arena in College Station.

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