NCAA Women: Delaney and McKay hit career highs, Wallace blows past 1,000

Megan McKay | Credit Tod Fierner/Saint Mary's College Athletics

It was another week of milestones for the Australian women in college basketball this week. Two upperclassmen notched career-high scoring efforts, whilst Kristy Wallace tallied her 1,000th point in college basketball, a just reward following an outstanding season taking on an increased scoring load in her senior year.

After a demoralising 59-36 loss to Robert Morris last week, St. Francis needed to bounce back quickly, and Alex Delaney led the charge for the Terriers against Mount St. Mary’s. Aided by Jade Johnson’s 21 points, and an all-round effort of 9 points, 8 assists, and 5 steals from Amy O’Neill, Delaney demolished her previous career high of 23 points, knocking down 5 of 9 from beyond the arc on her way to 30 points as St. Francis chalked up their first conference win with an 82-73 triumph.

Following up soon after against Taylah Simmons and Wagner, it was Johnson who put in the performance of the day, finishing with a game-high 21, whilst Delaney added another 16, including three more three-pointers to move the senior into sixth place for career threes for the Terriers as St. Francis eked out an 80-76 win. O’Neill added 8 points, 7 assists, and 4 steals, whilst for Wagner, Simmons tallied 9 points, following up on a 15 point, 8 rebound effort in a 74-69 loss to Long Island-Brooklyn earlier in the week.

However, Delaney wasn’t the only player setting a personal record this week. Saint Mary’s centre Megan McKay dominated Pepperdine for 40 minutes to tally a highly impressive 28 points. Coming off a scintillating 9 of 10 shooting night that resulted in 20 points in a 59-46 win over Santa Clara, the Western Australian simply could not be stopped as the Gaels finished strongly to secure a 75-62 win. McKay’s big haul came on 13 of 21 shooting, and the junior also tallied 7 rebounds in 32 minutes of playing time. Jasmine Forcadilla also enjoyed a solid week, especially in a facilitator role, dishing out five assists against Santa Clara before registering 6 points and 7 assists in the win over Pepperdine.

Whilst Delaney and McKay hit new single-game marks, Kristy Wallace was busy clearing the 1,000 career point barrier in Baylor’s 74-52 win over Oklahoma. Whilst it took until midway through the third quarter for the senior to tally the four points required to reach the milestone, Wallace went on to finish the game with a flourish to lead Baylor to a comprehensive victory. Finishing with 15 points on 50% shooting, as well as 7 rebounds and 4 assists, Wallace paced her team to a 41-22 second half scoreline which allowed the Bears to run away with the game in the late stages.

Stanford slipped to a loss against Arizona State last week, but Alanna Smith ensured that there would be no losing streak developing as the Cardinal welcomed both of the Pac-12’s Washington schools this week.

Facing Washington State first up, Stanford jumped out to a 22-7 lead by the end of the first quarter, and had ended the game as a contest by halftime with the scoreboard at Maples Pavilion reading 45-17. Smith was only required to play 27 minutes as the game finished 70-57, but still managed to compile an impressive 20 points on 11 of 18 shooting and 9 rebounds, dominating both in the paint and from mid-range. That domination continued into the second game of the week against Washington, where this time it was a second-half battering that ensured a comfortable 71-45 win for Stanford. The junior once again came within a single rebound of a double-double, this time connecting on 8 of 13 from the field to tally 19 points and 9 boards as the Cardinal start to show a bit more of the class that they are known for after a bumpy start to the season.

Alex Sharp continued to do a bit of everything for Wake Forest, even in a week in which the Demon Deacons could only secure one win from their three games. The sophomore chipped in 9 points and 6 rebounds in a 61-50 win over Miami, but it was her performances against Duke and North Carolina, even in a pair of losses, that were the personal highlights for Sharp. Wake Forest hung with the Blue Devils for much of the way in an 80-67 loss, with Sharp tallying an impressive 11 points and 11 rebounds, as well as dishing out five assists to be one of the team’s best on the day. The Victorian followed that performance up with another double-double in a cruel overtime loss to North Carolina. Connecting on five of nine shots from the field, Sharp registered another 11 points, 10 rebounds, and 6 assists, but although Wake Forest forced overtime with a last-second basket, the Tar Heels eked out a lead early in the extra period and held on for a 79-76 win.

The outstanding performances keep coming for Courtney Woods, but unfortunately this week the wins were not forthcoming for Northern Illinois. The Huskies cleared the 80 point mark for the eighth time in their last nine games against Western Michigan, but despite 26 points on 60% shooting from Woods, as well as 8 rebounds, it would be the Broncos who prevailed 88-83 after the Huskies let a five point lead slip during a 26-16 final quarter. Looking to bounce back against Toledo, Woods tallied another 13 points in what proved to be a much lower scoring affair for Northern Illinois than many of their previous encounters, falling 63-60 as the Queenslander’s last second shot from beyond the arc was off target.

After her Buffalo side fell to an overtime loss to Northern Illinois last week, Stephanie Reid ensured that the Bulls made it five wins from their last six games with a pair of inspired efforts. An outstanding performance from one of the premier two-way players amongst the Australians in college saw Reid register 17 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds, and 4 steals as Buffalo jumped out to an early lead before holding out for a 72-67 win over Miami University of Ohio. It was a slightly higher-scoring affair for the Bulls against Ball State in their second game of the week, and despite going up 29-12 in the first quarter, things became tight down the stretch. Ball State tied the game at 61-61 with a quarter to play, but behind 11 points and 9 assists from Reid, plus 13 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists from Katherine Ups, Buffalo were able to edge home 84-80 and move to 4-1 in conference play, with Reid knocking down two late free throws to ice the game.

A week that started disappointingly for Utah State did a complete 180 degree turn by the end of the team’s second game, and as per usual there were Aussies among the Aggies’ best performers. Despite falling to a 56-45 defeat to Colorado State, Rachel Brewster had a highly efficient night, hitting six of her eight field goal attempts to lead Utah State with 14 points. Unfortunately, on that occasion Brewster was the only Aggie to finish in double figures, captioning their scoring woes. Things could not have been more different against Nevada though, as all four Australians played integral roles in a Utah State victory. Olivia West shot 50% from beyond the arc to finish with 16 points, whilst Shannon Dufficy came within a rebound of a double-double, finishing with 11 points and 9 rebounds. Eliza West tallied an impressive 9 assists alongside 6 points, and Brewster added 9 points as the Aggies dominated for the entire game on their way to a 79-57 win.

Bride Kennedy-Hopoate’s progression as a Division I player continues admirably, with the junior notching double figures for the fifth time in her first season with Iowa State. Kennedy-Hopoate top-scored for Iowa State in their game against Kansas State, finishing with a career-high 17 points, shooting 7 of 8 from the field in the process. Unfortunately though, Kansas State came home with a wet sail, reeling off a 29-15 final quarter to overhaul the Cyclones and seal a 67-60 win.

Jess Gajewski continued to play an important scoring role for the new-look Grand Canyon offence, with a pair of double-figure scoring efforts in two close games for the Lopes. Despite falling 64-60 to New Mexico State, Gajewski’s scoring, particularly in the first half, kept her team in the game. The senior tallied 13 of her 17 points before halftime as Grand Canyon battled back from six points down after a quarter to go in down 31-30 at the half before New Mexico State held on down the stretch. The Queenslander was then one of four Grand Canyon players in double figures in their 64-59 win over Texas-Rio Grande Valley, tallying 10 points as the game exploded in the final quarter as the teams combined for 53 of the game’s 123 points in the last ten minutes.

Despite being forced to play in protective eyewear that almost resembled ski goggles, Tiana Mangakahia was still able to contribute in a meaningful way despite Syracuse’s close loss to North Carolina State. Having been poked in the eye late in the Orange’s win over Florida State, a game in which she contributed 13 assists, Mangakahia was forced to take precautions for this game, resulting in the additional equipment. The sophomore tallied 16 points and 5 assists, both game-highs, but in a tight game, North Carolina State remained just out of reach down the stretch. A pair of free throws from Mangakahia got Syracuse within two points in the final minute, but that was as close as the Orange would get, falling 60-56.

Written by

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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