The women’s basketball team traveled to Mexico to compete in the Cancun Challenge during Thanksgiving break, winning two of three games and ending its three-game losing streak.
“It was fun to be in a different country, but at the same time, it was definitely a business trip,” said fifth-year senior guard Samantha Bilney. “There wasn’t a ton of free time, but I don’t think anyone was complaining much about an opportunity to go to Cancun.”
The players arrived on Tuesday, Nov. 20, and left Sunday, Nov. 25.
On Tuesday, the team had the day to relax and explore the resort, the Moon Palace. After a quick practice Wednesday, players had most of the day to themselves.
For the next three days, the team focused mainly on basketball, practicing early, eating a pre-game meal together and returning to the hotel for the two hours before each game, senior center Ryann Dannelly said. Around 2 or 3 p.m., the players had a few hours until they watched the team that they would play next, she said.
“You take them out of their normal element and put them in a foreign country where people aren’t speaking your language,” coach Michael Shafer said. “It really develops team chemistry. You’re together, and that really works to a team’s benefit.”
The Spiders played three teams that are each projected to be successful within its own conference, Dannelly said. The Spiders do not typically play these teams, but those games had the same merit as any other regular-season game.
The Spiders defeated Minnesota in its first game 58-46.
Minnesota is part of the Big Ten Conference, Bilney said, one of the top conferences in the country.
“It was definitely considered an upset, so that was great,” she said. “That’s something that will hopefully help us down the road.
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