Though the winter winds have begun to creep into Provo, the BYU’s women’s basketball team will enjoy warmer weather this week as the team prepares to participate in the Hukilau Invitational, located in Laie, Hawaii.
Over the next five days, the Cougars will face BYU-Hawaii, University of Arizona and Syracuse University.
During last year’s Hukilau Invitational, BYU dominated BYU-Hawaii 101-51 and University of San Diego 70-44.
In this year’s invitational, BYU first faces BYU-Hawaii. Thus far, the Seasiders are 0-2 for the season, with additional losses in all three of their exhibition games. Despite the losses, starting senior Shayla Washington has displayed impressive numbers, averaging 16 points in the past three games.
After BYU-Hawaii, BYU takes on the Arizona Wildcats, who are 5-0. Junior Davellyn Whyte is averaging 21.6 points so far this season, and sophomore Candice Warthen is averaging 17.4 points.
The Cougars’ final game will take place on Saturday at 4 p.m. MST against Syracuse.
Syracuse, like Arizona, holds a 5-0 record. Kayla Alexander, a junior from Canada, is averaging 20.8 points this season, while three other players are averaging in the double-digits.
The Cougars will be tested with the wide range of skill, as well as taking in the altitude change and lack of home-court advantage, but BYU senior Haley Steed said she and the rest of her teammates will approach each game with the same mentality.
“We are aware that both Arizona and Syracuse are undefeated at this point,” Steed said. “This is going to be a tough week for us. It’s kind of exciting that they got such good teams to come to the tournament, and we’re really excited to be playing two elite, undefeated teams.”
The team has been constantly shifting between a week of games at home and a week of games away. But unfamiliar courts build experience, and this week should be no different for the Cougars.
“So far our road schedule’s been pretty tough — having been gone a whole week to Tulsa and Kansas, and now being gone another week [in Hawaii],” Steed said. “It’s tough being on the road. It is fun to play at home, and to play in front of a home crowd on our home court. [But] we like traveling, and our team actually plays really well on the road, so it should be a good week.”
Though the team will devote itself to the games, the players also plan on enjoying the warm weather.
“[Yesterday we went] to the beach,” Steed said. “I think we’re going to be surfing at some point, and we’re planning on going to Pearl Harbor one day, and we’re going to try and hit the SWAP meet in Waikiki. But hopefully we’ll be spending as much time as possible at the beach.”
The first game against BYU-Hawaii is today at 6 p.m. MST and will be broadcast on BYU Radio.