NCAA Women: O’Neill’s triple-double helps St. Francis upset Sacred Heart

Amy O'Neill | Credit: St. Francis College

The results may not have gone the right way every time, but that didn’t stop a number of Aussies from posting highlight-reel performances this week. However, perhaps the best performance of the week did lead to a victory as Amy O’Neill finally registered the first triple-double of her college career in St. Francis’ overtime victory over Sacred Heart, having fallen short on what felt like countless prior occasions.

It’s hard to say where St. Francis would be without Jade Johnson and Amy O’Neill, but the Terriers certainly wouldn’t be sitting at 12-9 and the Aussie pair proved as much in helping knock off Sacred Heart 56-53 in an overtime thriller on the road. Johnson knocked down 4 of 8 from beyond the arc to tally 20 points, her 11th time hitting the 20-point mark this season. Meanwhile, O’Neill finally secured her first career triple-double, and the program’s first in its history, after going close on numerous occasions this season. She registered 13 points on 5 of 10 shooting as well as 13 rebounds and 12 assists, with four steals just for good measure, as the Terriers moved into equal second in the Northeast Conference alongside Sacred Heart and Saint Francis University at 6-3 in conference play.

Coming into the week on a four-game winning streak, Saint Mary’s exuded the confidence they had built over the last few weeks in dominating Portland in a 113-85 victory, with Megan McKay and Jasmine Forcadilla leading the way. McKay simply couldn’t miss from the field, hitting 11 of 11 on her way to 26 points and collecting 11 rebounds to lead the Gaels in both categories. Meanwhile, Forcadilla registered a career-high 20 points courtesy of 4 of shooting from deep whilst also collecting five rebounds of her own. Carly Turner chipped in with 13 points in 17 minutes, whilst Sam Simons added 7 as the Australian quartet accounted for 66 of the Gaels’ points. The 113 points was the most that Saint Mary’s have scored against a Division I opponent in program history, and their first triple-digit score since the 2006-07 season. Portland’s own Australian, freshman Haylee Andrews, tallied 7 points and 5 assists for a Pilots side that found itself once again unable to contain Saint Mary’s, having given up 98 points in the team’s first matchup earlier this season.

Unfortunately, the Gaels came back to Earth slightly against arch-rivals Gonzaga, falling 66-52 on their home court. Simons led the way for Saint Mary’s with 16 points, including 4 of 6 from deep, whilst Forcadilla added 9 points and McKay chipped in 6 points and 9 rebounds. However, with the Zags gradually increasing their lead throughout the contest, small margins in each quarter added up to a fairly comfortable 14-point victory for the team from Spokane. However, there was more good news to come from an Australian perspective as WNBL star and former NCAA triple-double record holder Louella Tomlinson was inducted into the Saint Mary’s Athletics Hall of Fame.

Wagner came into their game against LIU-Brooklyn desperate to snap a three-game losing streak, and Taylah Simmons duly obliged with a mammoth performance that got the Seahawks over the line in a 72-62 victory. The sophomore came within a point of her career-high, dropping 27 points on 11 of 19 shooting, and also collected a career-high 15 rebounds to easily lead the game in both categories as Wagner ensured they would not be the first team to lose to LIU-Brooklyn in conference play and move to 4-5 in league action.

This week’s California-Stanford rivalry doubleheader saw Alanna Smith and Kristine Anigwe go toe-to-toe in two of the most mouth-watering battles of the season, with their teams taking a win apiece from the two games. Stanford found themselves down five with two minutes to play on the road in Berkeley, but took the lead with seven seconds to play before Asha Thomas dropped in a buzzer-beating lay-up to secure the 81-80 victory for Cal. Shooting 9 of 22 from the field, Smith was one of two Stanford players to top the 20-point mark, tallying 21 points alongside 9 rebounds and 5 steals, but also an apparent desire to enact swift and brutal revenge on her team’s Bay Area rivals. Stanford came out swinging in the rematch on their home floor at Maples Pavilion, opening up a 22-5 first quarter lead before maintaining their margin throughout the contest on the way to a comfortable 75-50 which prevented California from securing their first sweep of the season series since 1986. Stanford once again shared the scoring, with Smith’s 16-point effort only the third-highest points tally for the Cardinal on the night as the senior was required for just 25 minutes of action on an immensely satisfying night for the Cardinal faithful.

Thrust back into the starting lineup after two games coming off the bench, Miela Goodchild took her opportunity by the scruff of the neck as the freshman maintains her spot among the upper echelon of three-point shooters nationally. Although the Blue Devils fell to Australian duo Taylor Ortlepp and Georgia Pineau’s Boston College side in a 92-90 double overtime thriller that ended with Pineau assisting on a buzzer-beater, Goodchild was unconscious from beyond the arc, burying five of six to finish with a career-high 23 points and 3 assists. That game-winning assist from Pineau was just one of eight dimes for the junior alongside 15 points and 5 rebounds, whilst Ortlepp lit it up late in the piece to tally 13 points and 3 assists.

Goodchild continued her outstanding shooting form in a 74-59 win over Pittsburgh later in the week. The freshman knocked down a program freshman record 6 of 9 from deep on her way to 20 points and 5 rebounds, playing all bar two minutes as her spot in the starting lineup starts to look as though it may become a permanent fixture, particularly if this current form continues.

Taylor Ortlepp may have chipped in with 13 in Boston College’s win over Duke, but went to another level even as the Eagles fell 95-86 to Virginia Tech later in the week. The junior knocked down seven threes to match her career-high on her way to 23 points to lead all scorers for Boston College, but a 33-15 final term delivered Virginia Tech the victory despite trailing by 9 heading into the fourth quarter. Ortlepp also added 5 rebounds and 3 assists, whilst Georgia Pineau collected 6 rebounds alongside 2 points. However, Ortlepp’s game ended just shy of two minutes early after being helped from the court with what appeared to be an ankle injury, with updates on the junior’s injury as of yet not forthcoming.

A pair of losses saw Utah State slip to three consecutive defeats, but Shannon Dufficy continued to shine in a tough week for the Aggies. Whilst the team may have slipped to an unexpected 68-59 loss to San Jose State, Dufficy set a school record with her 9th consecutive double-double, tallying 13 points and 13 rebounds, although 25% shooting from the field was symptomatic of a problem exhibited by much of the Utah State roster. However, Olivia West tallied 11 points on 4 of 11 shooting and Rachel Brewster shot 4 of 9 from the field to tally 10 points and 3 rebounds. Dufficy was far more efficient in tying her career-high with 26 points in a 77-56 defeat to UNLV, hitting 4 of 7 from deep and 9 of 19 from the field to lead all scorers. The junior also collected 7 rebounds, whilst Brewster added 9 points, but the loss dropped the Aggies to 5-4 in conference play, a far cry from the 5-1 record they had attained just a week or so earlier.

Bree Delaney took individual honours in a battle of Aussies when Fresno State took on New Mexico, but Ahlise Hurst and the Lobos secured victory in front of 8,000 fans in Albuquerque. Delaney connected on 4 of 9 from deep to notch 17 points and 8 rebounds, but New Mexico managed to hold off Fresno State, keeping the Bulldogs at arm’s length throughout to secure the 82-73 victory. Hurst tallied 10 points for the Lobos, whilst Genna Ogier tallied a single make from deep in her 8 minutes on court to finish with 3 points.

Once again, Funda Nakkasoglu’s points proved to not be quite enough for Florida to secure victory as another solid haul from the senior couldn’t get the Gators over the line against Tennessee. With freshman Kristina Moore out with a broken arm, the Gators were outrebounded 48-32 in a 67-52 loss, with 18 points on 8 of 18 shooting from Nakkasoglu receiving little support as the remainder of the Florida team shot just 11 of 48 from the field, translating to a fairly dismal 23% clip, particularly with Tennessee shooting 45% for the contest. It unfortunately shapes to be a tough remainder of the season for the Gators, who have slipped to 1-8 in conference play, with their upset victory over Missouri earlier in the year now a distant memory.

Sophie Johnston broke out in a big way this week, setting new career-highs for points twice in the space of just a few days. Coming up against NAIA side Peru State, Johnston led a dominant Omaha side to a 91-44 victory, tallying 15 points on 5 of 9 shooting and dishing out 6 assists to lead the Mavericks in both categories. The freshman then showed she could do just as well against a more comparable opponent, with her efficient shooting almost getting the Mavericks over the line in a nail-biting 69-68 loss to North Dakota. Johnston knocked down a perfect 4 of 4 from beyond the arc as part of a 7 of 9 shooting evening to blitz the career-high she had set against Peru State and tally a game-high 20 minutes. Unfortunately, Omaha couldn’t quite get the win, leaving themselves just too much to do after trailing by 7 with two minutes to play as a last-second three saw them come up a single point short.

Surprisingly, it had been ten games since Tiana Mangakahia tallied a double-double, but that streak was snapped in a big way as the junior led Syracuse to a thrilling 72-68 victory over Virginia to lift the Orange to 6-2 in conference play and 17-4 overall. Mangakahia tallied 16 points and an impressive 14 assists to take her season average for assists above eight per contest, whilst also hitting a pair of free throws in the latter stages to give Syracuse a lead that they would not relinquish in the final seconds.

Sophomore Monique Andriuolo hadn’t scored in double figures since tallying an even 10 points for the third time in her career in January 2018, but the sophomore put all of those performances in the shade with a career-high in Pepperdine’s 88-65 victory over San Diego. The sophomore hit a pair from beyond the arc and shot 6 of 9 from the field to tally 14 points to share team-high scoring honours whilst also collecting 4 rebounds in just 19 minutes on court, whilst Western Australian sophomore Mia Satie started the game and chipped in with 4 points and 3 rebounds. Satie also started against BYU later in the week as Pepperdine pulled off a massive upset victory, with the Waves utilising a 21-10 second quarter to build a solid margin and maintain the lead throughout the remainder of the contest, with both Australians playing small cameos in the win.

Finally, it was a week to remember for Alek Akuen as the SIU-Edwardsville junior hit double figures for the first time in her brief Division I career. Although the Cougars fell to a 73-67 loss to Morehead State, Akuen made a significant impact off the bench, hitting 3 of 3 from the field and 5 of 7 at the line to tally 11 points and 5 rebounds in just 14 minutes of action off the bench and give herself something to build on for the rest of the season.

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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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