The girls from down under continue to make their presence well and truly known in the NCAA Division I competition over in the USA. Michael De Lacy takes a look at the action and calls out the best performances for these great Australian ambassadors over the past week.
Player of the Week
Last week’s player of the week was high-scoring senior guard Stacey Barr. This week is no different, with Barr once again earning the spotlight after maintaining her outstanding on court performances.
The Idaho Vandals enjoyed a spectacular 78-43 victory over Northern Arizona with Barr once again leading the way. The star guard from Melbourne posted a game-high 28 points on 9/16 shooting from the field while adding 4 rebounds and 2 assists in the big win. Controlling the paint, the Vandals won the rebound count (53-34) and points in the paint with a 40-10 edge. In the first half, the Vandals hit down hard on Northern Arizona, going on a 22-0 run in the last 5 minutes of the first half. Fellow Australian’s Renae Mokrzycki had 6 points and 2 rebounds, while Geraldine McCorkell compiled 6 points and 9 rebounds.
“I thought the whole first half we played great, I thought we really tightened things up, really giving them one look at our best [on offense],” stated head coach John Newlee. “We came out running. Renae gave us great energy up and down the floor, we got on the glass and Stacey started getting out in transition. Our defensive rebounding was the key to that tonight.”
In their second game for the week, the Vandals earned a 76-49 victory over Southern Utah. Barr was again prominent, compiling 18 points, 5 rebounds and 2 steals. Mokrzycki also had a solid outing, collecting 9 points and 4 rebounds in 13 minutes while McCorkell had a near double-double with 10 points and 7 rebounds in 16 minutes.
Thanks to her big-time performances over the past week, Barr was also named Big Sky Conference Player of the Week – the first time she has garnered the award this season. Barr bis now the Vandal’s first player to earn this accolade since the team rejoined the Big Sky this season.
As the reigning Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year, Barr is enjoying a stellar season. She is averaging career-best numbers of 20.9 points with 6.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.1 steals per game. The success of her team is highly dependant on the output of their star guard.
Team of the Week
Baylor secured their 25th victory in a row and their 18th straight at home after defeating TCU 91-75 in front of big crowd of 9,521 Lady Bear fans. The victory earned Baylor their 6th Big 12 Conference title and 5th in a row.
Freshman Kristy Wallace came off the bench and provided 7 points with 3 rebounds as Baylor scored 70 or more points for 20th time this year, improving to 20-0 in those contests.
Baylor also managed to grab 32 assists which tied for 10th best in Big 12 history. They led in points in the paint (44-20) and have done so in all 27 games this season. Baylor outrebounded its opponent (42-27) for the 25th time this season out of 27 games. Quite simply, Baylor has been a dominant team and are steamrolling their way to the 2015 NCAA Tournament.
— Baylor Lady Bears (@BaylorWBB) February 22, 2015
“I don’t have a magic potion. I don’t have the answers,” Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey stated after the win. “Just know we’re pretty good. I know we’ve got a good group of girls to represent Baylor, and I think they’re just proving every game that they’re competitors. We have a lot of weapons. We have a lot of depth, and we don’t have just one superstar. They share the basketball well. They help each other defensively. They take criticism, they take coaching and they come back to work the next day.”
Best of the Rest
St Francis Brooklyn Terriers enjoyed a tough 67-55 victory over Wagner. Eilidh Simpson had 7 points and 4 assists. Freshman Alex Delaney contributed 2 rebounds and 1 steal. The Terriers then backed up with another win, this time a 71-55 result over victory over St Francis Red Flash. While Simpson was honoured pre-game on senior day, during the game she became the 15th player in school history to reach 1,000 career points when she hit a corner triple. Simpson would go on to finish with 6 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals for the game, while Delaney managed 8 points in the win.
South Dakota’s Nicole Seekamp enjoyed a well-rounded game in compiling 12 points, 5 rebounds and 8 assists, 5 rebounds and a game-high 4 steals. With Seekamp’s solid contribution, the Coyotes were able to account for Denver 79-68 and inch closer to clinching the top seed at next month’s Summit League Tournament. Seekamp reached double-digit points for the 23rd time this season while the Coyotes shot a reasonable 47% for the game.
Fresno State’s Alex Sheedy amassed her 8th double-double of the season on Colorado State, grabbing 18 points, 12 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks. However Sheedy’s big outing was not enough to prevent the Bulldog’s from going down on the road to Colorado State 56-70. The Bulldogs struggled the entire game struggling from the field shooting a low 30% and just 12% from beyond the arc.
The Bulldog’s then proved too much for Utah State, earning a 64-55 win. Utah State’s Funda Nakkasoglu had a big night, going 10/15 from the field in amassing 24 points, 2 rebounds and 6 assists in the loss. Sheedy was just as good with a big game of her own in what proved to be an all-Aussie shootout. She exploded for a 25 point and 12 rebound double-double with 3 assists.
“We knew it was going to be physical and up-tempo.” said Fresno State’s head coach Jaime White. “We just had more runs than them. [Funda Nakkasoglu] is a good player and we did a good job of defending her late in the game.”
In their previous game, Nakkasoglu led Utah State to an 85-80 victory over San Jose State. She was super-impressive, racking up 25 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists ending her team’s losing streak.
In the West Coast Conference, Saint Mary’s were defeated by Georgia Stirton’s Gonzaga 80-72. For the Gael’s, Lauren Nicholson collected 12 points and 2 rebounds in 32 minutes while Hannah Kaser finished with 6 points in 6 minutes. Freshman Carly Turner provided some great support off the bench with 12 points, 3 rebounds and 6 assists in arguably her best game yet. Stirton was valuable for Gonzaga, contributing 15 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists to help secure the Bulldog’s 16th straight win.
Freshman Louise Brown finished with 6 rebounds and 3 blocks as Washington State crept away from Utah to grab a 9 point victory (61-52). The victory gave Washington State head coach June Daugherty’s career win 400. the Cougars then followed up with another win, this time a 83-72 victory over Washington. Brown compiled a near double-double with 7 points, 10 rebounds and 2 steals in 39 minutes on court.
Mollie McKendrick had a quiet game, recording only 6 points, 2 rebounds and 1 steal in 18 minutes as the Boston Terriers were defeated by American 50-58. However the Terriers were back in action on Saturday, honouring McKendrick in her final home game as a senior. McKendrick would go on to post 9 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists, however they were defeated by Bucknell 60-65. The Bison’s Claire Maree O’Bryan had 1 rebound and 1 steal in limited action in their win.
Over in the American Conference, Southern Methodist’s tough season continued after losing to East Carolina 53-67. The Mustangs’ downfall was their 31 turnovers, 20 of which were in the first half alone. Alicia Froling was 1 rebound shy of a double-double, gathering 10 points and 9 rebounds while Stephanie Collins managed a new career-high 13 points with 7 rebounds and 4 blocks. Keely Froling had a quiet night with only 5 rebounds.
Alicia Froling put together 9 points, 5 rebounds and a strong defensive effort with 3 blocks as the Mustangs secured their second victory in conference play by defeating Houston 68-51. Keely Froling led the Mustangs with 13 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 block. The Mustangs shot a season-high 52.1 percent from the field.
- Virginia Tech was defeated by Louisville 49-69 despite Vanessa Panousis producing 11 points and 3 assists. Hannah Young also chimed in with 9 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists as the Hokies battled hard against a quality opponent.
- Emerging 6’3 forward Samantha Roscoe posted her best game to date in delivering a new career-high’s of 8 points and 7 rebounds in only 12 minutes of action as North Dakota rolled to a 31 point victory over Portland State (76-45).
- North Dakota State was defeated by IUPUI 65-76, with Marena Whittle collecting 7 points and 4 rebounds. In their second game of the week, Whittle had 8 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists.
- Ashleigh Karaitiana had 11 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals in 25 minutes as Hawaii steamrolled UC Irvine 75-37.
- Eastern Illinois defeated Murray State 81-67 with freshman Grace Lennox compiling 7 points and 6 assists. Bianca Babic was held scoreless in 4 minutes. Lennox would back up to put together 5 rebounds and 4 assists helping the Panthers defeat Southeast Missouri 49-48.