A number of seniors showed out this week as the likes of Alanna Smith, Rachel Brewster, and Megan McKay look to end their college careers on a high. However the performances of a number of freshmen, led by Miela Goodchild’s record-breaking outing against defending champions Notre Dame, reminded us all that the future is bright for Aussie women in college basketball.
That notion was only strengthened with the announcement by Suzi-Rose Deegan of her verbal commitment to Davidson. A Youth Olympic bronze medallist in 3×3 and the leading scorer at the recent Under 20 Australian Junior Championships, Deegan joins Queensland’s Adelaide Fuller in committing to the Wildcats, where the pair will link up with freshman Cassidy Gould and assistant coach James Janssen, forming a four-strong Australian contingent.
Duke may not have managed to get the upset against defending national champions Notre Dame, but Miela Goodchild carved out a slice of history even as the Blue Devils fell to an 89-61 defeat.
Dropping a career-high 26 points, Goodchild broke the program freshman record with eight three-pointers, which also tied the overall program record held by 2018 WNBA draft pick Rebecca Greenwell. The eight threes came on 14 attempts, helping to lift Goodchild into third position in the nation for three-point percentage heading into the Blue Devils’ game against a Wake Forest side featuring another Australian in Alex Sharp.
Goodchild’s radar remained dialled in during a 55-44 win over Wake Forest, hitting 4 of 8 from deep to finish with 14 points and continue to raise her shooting percentage from beyond the arc, which now sits at 46.7%. Meanwhile, it was a tough shooting night for Sharp, who finished with 4 points but collected 12 rebounds to round out a week that had commenced with a 10-point, 9-rebound performance in an 80-46 loss to #9 North Carolina State.
Goodchild rounded out the week with an ACC Rookie of the Week award, her second of the season.
Alanna Smith’s college career is rapidly approaching its conclusion, and the Stanford senior is doing her best to make every last post a winner as the Cardinal ramp up for another deep run into March.
Fresh off a game-winner in a nail-biter against USC last week, Smith stepped up once again as Stanford just edged by Arizona 56-54, surrendering an eight-point halftime lead before regrouping to secure the victory. Smith finished with 21 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 blocks, and also hit the game-winner, burying a catch-and-shoot three off an assist from Kiana Williams with 29 seconds to play for the final points of the contest.
Senior Day against Arizona State followed, and after festivities that included the playing of the Australian national anthem for Smith, Stanford rolled to a 71-50 victory, with the Australian Opal one of four Stanford players in double figures in her final regular season game at Maples Pavilion. Smith tallied 14 points, shooting 5 of 9 from the field, whilst collecting 4 rebounds and dishing 3 assists in 23 minutes. A pair of blocks also moved Smith into outright third for most blocks in a single season for Stanford, behind only a pair of seasons from former WNBA star Jayne Appel and above the likes of current WNBA players Chiney Ogwumike and Erica McCall; the latter of which tabbed Smith her protégé after completing her time at Stanford in 2017.
Jade Johnson’s dominant scoring run continues at pace, and although St. Francis were unable to pick up a victory on their road trip to western Pennsylvania, the junior now averages 27 points over her last five games.
The Terriers found themselves unable to match it with Robert Morris in a 42-20 first half, but nonetheless Johnson knocked down 6 of 9 from deep to tally 22 points in a 74-57 defeat, breaking the St. Francis single-season record for three-pointers in the process. Senior Amy O’Neill came within touching distance of her third triple-double of the season in the loss, registering 9 points, 12 rebounds, and 9 assists.
A battle against Saint Francis University followed, and despite putting themselves in a hole, the Terriers came home with a flourish on the back of 31 points from Johnson, her third 30-point outing in 5 games, and 13 assists from O’Neill. Unfortunately, though, a turnover in the final minute whilst down by just two saw St. Francis’ last chance at victory vanish as their opponents iced the game at the line for an 86-84 victory.
Scoring hadn’t been Rachel Brewster’s forte in recent weeks, but the senior is finishing with a flourish, following up a 17-point outing in a win over Air Force last week with a pair of 20-point games as Utah State split a pair of games but sprung a massive upset in the process.
Brewster was the only Aggie to finish in double figures in her side’s 74-56 loss to New Mexico, tallying an even 20 points on 9 of 20 shooting. Steph Gorman added 9 points, and Eliza West chipped in with 7 points and 7 assists, whilst Shannon Dufficy added 6 points and 12 rebounds. But with the Aggies shooting just 34% from the field, the task proved too great against a New Mexico side shooting 43% from the floor. However Utah State quickly put that disappointment behind them with their biggest win of the season against a Boise State team that came into the game at 12-1 in conference and play and just three losses all season.
All five Australians came out firing, outscoring the Broncos by six points as the Aggies secured a remarkable 81-68 victory. Brewster tallied 22 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists, but it was Dufficy who activated beast mode to lead the way. The junior returned to her best with 26 points and 12 rebounds for her 16th double-double of the season, whilst Gorman added 13 points. Olivia West chipped in with 11, and although Eliza West only tallied 2 points, the point guard did her own job as a facilitator superbly, dishing 7 assists as the Aussie quintet combined superbly throughout to lead their team to victory.
A tough week for Saint Mary’s saw the Gaels drop a pair of games and fall to 11-6 in conference play, but Megan McKay shone brightly in an otherwise difficult pair of contests. Shooting 5 of 8 from the floor in a 69-56 loss to Loyola Marymount, McKay tallied 12 points and 9 rebounds, whilst Jasmine Forcadilla added 11 points, but 28 turnovers from the Gaels proved terminal to any chance they may have had of victory.
Both McKay and Saint Mary’s improved against Pepperdine, but it wasn’t enough as the Waves secured the 77-72 victory. Forcadilla did not feature for the Gaels, but McKay impressed with 19 points and 11 rebounds, whilst Sam Simons and Carly Turner chipped in with 8 points apiece. Meanwhile, Pepperdine’s Mia Satie tallied 7 points and 11 rebounds in a solid effort in her 8th consecutive start, playing a season-high 31 minutes in the process.
Funda Nakkasoglu’s accuracy from three-point range had been down slightly in recent weeks despite solid scoring numbers, but the senior re-calibrated her radar and enjoyed a far more efficient night even as her Florida side fell to nationally ranked Texas A&M.
Having hit just 1 of her previous 10 attempts from beyond the arc, Nakkasoglu put that behind her to bury 6 of 9 from deep on her way to 22 points. However, with a trio of Texas A&M players topping the 20-point mark and the Aggies shooting 56% from the field, a Gators side that knocked down just 31% of their shots was always up against it, eventually falling to an 80-62 defeat as a 36-17 first half deficit put them behind the eight-ball early in the piece.
Syracuse fell to a heavy 98-68 defeat to Notre Dame, but Tiana Mangakahia’s second half explosion reminded everyone of her class. Scoreless at halftime as Syracuse trailed 46-27, the junior got to the basket on a number occasions, chalking up 17 points as well as 4 steals in the second half to go alongside 7 assists for the game. She became the second former Townsville Fire player this week after Goodchild, to turn in an impressive performance in a loss to Notre Dame.
It wasn’t quite enough to get Colorado a victory over Washington, but freshman Emma Clarke set a number of career-highs in the Buffaloes’ 60-46 defeat. The freshman set new marks with a trio of three-pointers and six makes from the floor, culminating in a new career-high of 15 points in the first 30-minute outing of her young career, potentially laying the foundation for starting berths either in the near future or next season.
Clarke’s fellow freshman, Davidson’s Cassidy Gould, helped ensure a heartbreaking overtime loss to Dayton quickly became ancient history, eclipsing her own career scoring mark and leading the Wildcats to victory over Saint Louis. Gould finished with 16 points, shooting 6 of 11 from the floor, and knocking down a pair of free throws with 8 seconds to play that put Davidson up 58-54. Those free throws proved vital as Saint Louis responded with a three almost immediately before Davidson escaped with a 60-57 victory to maintain third place in the Atlantic 10 at 10-4.