NCAA Women: Aussies lead Utah State to historic win as Woods reaches milestone

Olivia West | Credit: Utah State Athletics

It was certainly a great week for teams with multiple Aussies this week, as Utah State’s quartet and St. Francis’ trio each combining to deliver their teams victories. Meanwhile, Courtney Woods became the second Australian in as many weeks to reach the 1,000 point mark for their career, leading her Northern Illinois to victory in the process.

Courtney Woods became the second Australian in as many weeks to reach the 1,000 career point mark, notching the milestone whilst leading Northern Illinois to an 80-71 win over Loyola Chicago. Connecting on 7 of 21 field goal attempts, Woods tallied 22 points and 9 rebounds as the Huskies extended their lead throughout each of the first three quarters before Loyola Chicago added some respectability to the scoreline in the final term. The Queenslander added the 14 points required to reach the 1,000 mark inside the first half, as early dominance led to a comfortable victory for Northern Illinois.

Having put together a 1-6 record and coming up against a BYU side that they had not beaten in their last 28 games and 39 years, all signs pointed to Utah State’s early struggles continuing. However, the Aggies’ Australian quartet had differing ideas, with all four players contributing significantly to a dominant 76-69 win that was not nearly as close as the final scoreline suggested.

Rachel Brewster top scored for Utah State with 20 points on 8 of 16 shooting, and also collected 7 rebounds. Olivia West continued her outstanding scoring form, connecting on 7 of 16 field goal attempts to add 19 points. Shannon Dufficy picked up yet another double-double, shooting an efficient 7 of 12 from the field to tally 16 points alongside 10 rebounds, whilst Eliza West dished out 8 assists in the win. Things proved a lot tougher in a 61-43 loss to Utah Valley in the team’s second game of the week, but Olivia West was able to tally 16 points, and was awarded Utah State’s Athlete of the Week award for her performances across both games.

Jade Johnson continued her outstanding start to the season, again leading St. Francis’ scoring in both games this week as the Terriers split a pair of contests. Whilst St. Francis’ defence stifled Loyola Maryland throughout their 64-47 win, Johnson’s scoring was again exemplary, shooting 8 of 13, including 6 of 8 from three point range, to tally 22 points as well as 6 rebounds. Alex Delaney was also solid to tally 13 points, whilst Amy O’Neill added 12 points and 9 rebounds as once again the Terriers’ Aussie trio scored enough points to equal the opposition score. Unfortunately, St. Francis lost a tough overtime battle to Howard in their second game of the week, but Johnson and Delaney each finished in double figures yet again with 14 and 12 points respectively, whilst both pulled down 5 rebounds.

Bree Delaney may just have outperformed her sister this week. Having scored just 35 points across her first seven games of college basketball, it was understandable if Pacific didn’t expect the freshman to be a significant scoring threat for Fresno State as the teams faced off on Thursday. However, the Sydneysider came out firing, shooting 6 of 8 from beyond the arc on her way to a career-high 28 points as Fresno State knocked off Pacific 81-70. Delaney also connected on 8 of 10 free throw attempts as the freshman showcased her scoring talents to lead her team to just their second win of the season.

Tiana Mangakahia’s run of double-doubles may have ended this week, but the Syracuse sophomore continued to play at a supreme level with two more outstanding performances. Coming up against fellow upstate New York school Colgate, no Syracuse player played more than Mangakahia’s 28 minutes in a 79-39 demolition. The Queenslander collected 13 points and dished out 9 assists, whilst also picking up 3 steals in a runaway victory. The Orange’s second opponent of the week, Drexel, proved to be a far different proposition, taking a 41-33 halftime lead on Syracuse’s home floor. However, Mangakahia dished out 8 of her 10 assists for the game in the second half to go alongside 16 points, notching her 8th double-double of the season in a 72-62 comeback win which takes Syracuse to 10-0 to start the season.

The Australian pairing of Grace Lennox and Grace McRae performed admirably yet again for Eastern Illinois, but the Panthers’ struggles continued as they fell to a pair of losses this week. Facing Bradley in their first game, Lennox finished with 19 points, but her 8 of 26 shooting was similar to the rate maintained by the rest of the team, and Bradley ran out 67-52 winners, having set up the win with a 20-7 opening term. Things improved against IPFW in the second game of the week, with Lennox tallying 21 points and 8 assists, whilst McRae added 16 points on 80% shooting as well as 6 assists and 4 rebounds. However, IPFW shot a remarkable 71% from the field on their way to a 93-77 victory.

Georgia Pineau continued to lead from the front for Boston College, even if the Eagles were only able to secure one win from their two games this week. Facing local foes Holy Cross, Pineau’s shooting touch was absolutely exemplary as the sophomore hit her field goals at 80% on the way to a game-high 19 points as the Eagles erased a first-quarter deficit to register a 70-61 win. Pineau also added 12 rebounds and 6 assists, whilst fellow Australian Taylor Ortlepp added 14 points, 8 of which came on 100% shooting from the free throw line, as well as 7 assists.

Pineau again led Boston College in scoring in their contest against one-time fellow Big East school Seton Hall, but the Eagles fell to a heavy 73-53 loss. Pineau shot 8 of 14 from the field to amass 18 points as well as 8 rebounds, whilst Ortlepp added 6 points and 4 assists as both Australians continued to play roles as two of the team’s main weapons.

Geraldine McCorkell started the week with a solid performance and ended it in dominant fashion, even though Idaho could only register a single victory this week from their two outings. The Vandals dominated Cal State Fullerton from the outset in their first game contest, taking a 48-23 lead into halftime. McCorkell was only required to play 25 minutes, contributing 12 points on 5 of 11 shooting as well as 5 rebounds in her abbreviated time on court as Idaho ran out 80-60 winners with consummate ease.

The Vandals then faced Wyoming in a back-and-forth battle in which McCorkell played all bar one minute of the contest. The senior tallied 22 points, shooting 50% in the process, and pulled down another 5 rebounds. Yet Wyoming secured the 70-64 win as Idaho relinquished a fourth quarter lead, scoring just four points in the last five minutes of the contest.

Funda Nakkasoglu continued to play her role as one of Florida’s main scoring weapons this season as the Gators fell to a heavy defeat at the hands of Ohio State before bouncing back against Marshall in their next outing. Whilst Ohio State cantered to an expected 103-77 win, Nakkasoglu was a perfect 3 of 3 from beyond the arc on her way to 16 points. The Utah State transfer also added 6 assists as the Gators put up a solid fight but were simply outmatched by the nationally ranked Buckeyes. Florida dominated the first three quarters of their second game of the week, against Marshall, take a 60-44 lead into the final quarter. However, Marshall came back to within a point with just over a minute to play. Fortunately, the Gators survived by hitting their free throws down the stretch, with Nakkasoglu tallying 17 points in the 74-69 win.

South Dakota senior Jasmine Trimboli lost the entirety of the 2016-17 season due to injury, but continues to impress in her return to the court this season, culminating in an outstanding performance in an 81-51 win over Incarnate Word. The South Australian knocked down 6 of 10 attempts from the field to tally 17 points, whilst also dishing out 4 assists in her 28 minutes on court as South Dakota increased their lead through each quarter, eventually rounding out a 30 point demolition. Trimboli then backed up in a 66-50 win over Cal State Bakersfield with a near double-double performance. The senior tallied 9 points on 50% shooting, whilst also collecting a game-high 8 rebounds as her play continues to eclipse what she showed before her season-ending injury.

Taylah Simmons has experienced a topsy-turvy freshman season to this point, but came up with a big double-double as her Wagner side topped Longwood 60-43 for their first win over a Division I opponent this season. Despite fouling out late, Simmons’ efficient 6 of 7 shooting allowed her to deliver 13 points, and the Victorian was simply dominant on the boards to collect 13 rebounds. She picked up an NEC Prime Performer award in the process. Simmons’ two best performances of the season have now come in Wagner’s two wins, following her 15 point outing in the victory over College of Staten Island earlier in the season.

Finally, Alex Sharp continued to do a solid job as a starter for Wake Forest, and was keeping things ticking over nicely for the Demon Deacons throughout the week. The sophomore came agonisingly close to picking up her third double-double in four games in a 62-57 win over Xavier, tallying 11 points on 4 of 6 shooting and collecting 9 rebounds, as well as dishing out five assists in a tight victory. A career-high four blocks followed in a 78-49 win over Appalachian State, before the Victorian put together a perfect shooting night in a 92-50 demolition of Maryland-Eastern Shore. Sharp hit 5 of 5 from the field to tally 11 points, and hauled in six rebounds to round out a week in which the sophomore was able to showcase her talents at both ends of the floor.

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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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