NCAA Women: Alanna Smith drops career-high, obliterates Washington schools

Alanna Smith | Credit: Karen Hickey / Stanford Athletics

Stanford and Opals forward Alanna Smith was once again among the leading Australians in women’s college basketball this week, with the senior edging her way firmly into the conversation for Pac-12 Player of the Year after some outstanding efforts. Elsewhere, Jade Johnson broke a school record in St. Francis’ win over local rivals LIU-Brooklyn, and Emily Fisher enjoyed a breakout weekend for American University.

Alanna Smith’s transcendent form of recent weeks shows no signs of abating as the senior led Stanford to a pair of comprehensive victories against the Pac-12’s Washington schools. Smith was simply dominant against an overmatched Washington side in the Cardinal’s 91-54 rout, shooting 12-18 including 3 of 6 from beyond the arc on her way to a game-high 27 points and 13 rebounds, as well as a trio of blocks. Somehow, the Opals forward managed to improve on that performance as Stanford rolled to an 85-64 win over Washington State. Knocking down 4 of 5 from deep, Smith eclipsed her previous career-high of 33 points, dropping 34 whilst collecting 15 rebounds to register her sixth double-double of the season, all of which have come in the last eight games.

St. Francis junior Jade Johnson has been performing well all season, but her record-breaking performance against local rivals LIU-Brooklyn was simply on another level, even by her own lofty standards. Fresh off chipping in 8 points in a stinging 68-66 loss to Sacred Heart that saw fellow Australian Amy O’Neill lead the way with 20 points, 9 rebounds, and 9 assists, Johnson took out the frustration of that loss in the Battle of Brooklyn. Playing all 40 minutes, the sharpshooter was electric, knocking down a program record 8 three-pointers on 10 attempts to put together a career-high 33-points as the Terriers erased an 8-point first quarter deficit to secure a 79-67 victory. O’Neill was also outstanding, finishing with 9 points, 11 rebounds, and 8 assists to once again come close to what would have been a first career triple-double.

Sophomore Taylah Simmons has been enjoying another solid season for Wagner, but hit another level in leading the Seahawks to a 92-76 victory over Mount St. Mary’s. Shooting an efficient 9 of 12 from the field and 10 of 13 at the line, Simmons registered a career-high 28 points whilst also collecting 7 rebounds and 3 steals as Wagner used a 25-7 first quarter to set up the 16-point victory and move to 3-2 in conference play. Simmons followed up with another 14 points against Sacred Heart later in the week, but Wagner fell 72-64 to a Pioneers side that remains undefeated in conference play.

Freshman Sam Simons’ emergence as a reliable option for Saint Mary’s coach Paul Thomas continues, and in turn adds significant depth to a Gaels roster looking to compete for a WCC title. In an 80-65 win over San Francisco that saw Megan McKay top-score for the Aussie contingent with 13 points, including 9 of 10 at the charity stripe, Simons chipped in with 8 points in what was a decent appetiser prior to the Gaels’ trip southwards along I-880 to Santa Clara. Saint Mary’s dominated from the outset in an 83-59 victory, with Simons’ three-point shooting a highlight. The South Australian buried 5 of 9 from deep to top-score with 19 points, her fifth double-figure scoring effort in six games whilst also collecting 6 rebounds. McKay again tallied 13 points to notch her sixth double-figure scoring effort in as many conference games, and now averages 16.6 points in WCC play.

Haylee Andrews’ emergence as a reliable scoring threat has been a godsend for a Portland side that has already eclipsed its win total from last season, and the Queenslander continued her good form as the Pilots split a pair of games this week. The freshman was one of three Portland players in the team’s 69-60 win over San Diego, shooting 6 of 12 on her way to 12 points as the Pilots got off the mark in conference play courtesy of a 47-31 first half. This was followed by a game-high 19 points and 5 rebounds against a BYU side that came into the game undefeated in conference play. Although the Pilots fell to a 79-71 loss, it was arguably among the team’s best performances in their first seven games in conference play.

Florida may have fallen to 1-4 in conference play with a 10-point loss to Ole Miss this week, but without Funda Nakkasoglu, that margin would have approached blowout territory as the senior lit it up from outside. The sharpshooting guard knocked down 4 of 7 from beyond the arc on her way to a game-high 21 points, tallying 14 of those points in the second half after the game sat evenly poised at 34-33 in Ole Miss’s favour at halftime. Freshman Kristina Moore added six points for the Gators, but although Florida cut the margin to two with seven minutes to play, they couldn’t quite get over the top before Ole Miss secured a 76-66 victory.

It’s been a long time coming for American University freshman Emily Fisher, but the freshman registered the first double-figure scoring effort of her career and followed it up with another solid performance to round out the week The Victorian lived at the line in American’s 82-38 demolition of Loyola Maryland, hitting a perfect 8 of 8 free throws on her way to 14 points, and 7 assists as the Eagles rolled. Lehigh proved to be a far tougher proposition, but Fisher provided a spark off the bench to tally 15 points in just 21 minutes. The freshman connected on 5 of 7 from the field in the process, including a three-pointer to put her team up 56-49 with just under four minutes to play before icing the game at the line in the final seconds as American emerged as 61-53 victors.

Shannon Dufficy continued her almost absurd run of double-doubles this week as the Aussies once again fired for Utah State in a 72-49 win over Colorado State. The junior may have only attempted a relatively low 9 shots, but connected on six to tally 14 points, whilst collecting 12 rebounds to register her 11th double-double for the season and seventh on the trot as the Aggies were barely troubled after leading 45-23 at halftime. Point guard Eliza West enjoyed a solid outing to finish with 11 points and 7 assists, whilst Rachel Brewster and Steph Gorman added 9 and 8 points respectively in the comprehensive victory, with both players also dishing 4 assists.

Eastern Illinois snapped a three-game losing streak with a 75-67 victory over Murray State, with senior Grace Lennox among the best on court for the Panthers. The Tasmanian connect on a perfect 6 of 6 at the charity stripe, all in the final quarter, on her way to 16 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists as the Panthers stormed home in the final term to move to 2-3 in conference play. Lennox followed up with another 12 points against Austin Peay later in the week, playing the full 40 minutes, but Eastern Illinois couldn’t make it two wins in a row, falling to a 73-60 defeat.

Boston College’s topsy-turvy start to conference play continued this week as a two-game winning streak was snapped in a 91-71 defeat to Florida State. However, Taylor Ortlepp and Georgia Pineau shone in what was largely an otherwise disappointing day for the Eagles. Ortlepp knocked down four three-pointers on her way to 18 points, and also added a game-high five assists as the South Australian continues to deliver in a variety of ways. Meanwhile, Pineau was outstandingly efficient in hitting 5 of her 6 field goal attempts on her way to 12 points and 5 rebounds. Pineau also chipped in 8 points in the Eagles’ 92-63 loss to national title contenders Notre Dame on Sunday, with Ortlepp adding a solitary three-pointer in the defeat.

Portland State held Southern Utah to just 31% shooting in their 63-49 win over the Thunderbirds, and had Courtney West to thank for helping deliver the victory. The Sutherland product finished the game with a mammoth 9 blocks, breaking her own program record of 8, which the senior had accomplished on two occasions. West also finished with 16 points on 7 of 12 shooting, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists in a simply sublime all-round performance as the Vikings maintain their position atop the Big Sky standings at 5-1 in conference play.

Tia Hay showed no after-effects of playing a triple overtime game the previous weekend, delivering once again even as the Broncos fell to a 74-70 defeat to Pacific. Once again, the junior was almost ever-present on court, dropping 20 points in 38 minutes, knocking down 3 of 8 from beyond the arc and 7 of 8 at the charity stripe. Hay also dished a career-high 9 assists to come up just short of a double-double, but a failure to score a point in the final two minutes of the game after cutting the deficit to a single point saw the Broncos unable to come up with the win.

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Fan of all things Aussie women's basketball. Too much college is never enough. Firm believer that winter was made for freezing in tin sheds at Waratah League games.

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