Clarke keeps Colorado's unbeaten streak alive with fourth quarter burst

Emma Clarke’s emergence as a leader for the Colorado side continues apace, culminating in a match-winning effort for the Buffaloes on the road against Xavier. The sophomore tallied a career-high 19 points as Colorado held off a Xavier side that, on paper, should not have given them as much trouble as they did, securing a 62-53 victory.

Clarke opened the game with a pair of early jumpers, but Colorado found themselves unable to impose themselves on the home side throughout the first half as a low-scoring first half ended with the 1-5 Xavier side up 27-25. However, whatever was discussed in the locker room at halftime certainly had the right effect on the Colorado side as they held Xavier to just six points in the third quarter to take a 44-33 advantage heading into the final term.

But the job wasn’t done, and the fourth quarter saw Clarke truly shine, demolishing any chance that Xavier had of causing an unlikely upset. The Western Australian put together an 11-5 run on her own, draining a trio of threes in as many minutes before the lead briefly ballooned out to 16 points. Whilst Xavier cut the lead to nine on a pair of occasions, Clarke’s scoring spree to open the term had already done enough damage to ensure Colorado’s unbeaten start to the season extended to eight games. With three eminently winnable games to come before Pac-12 play commences, the Buffaloes could yet enter the conference season with an undefeated record.

Having averaged just 4.6 points per game last season, Clarke has outscored that number on every occasion this season, hitting double figures on five occasions. The sophomore has now scored 14, 17, and 19 in her last three appearances, with the latter two outings each improving on her previous career-high of 15. Having also buried 11 of her last 21 three-point attempts, Clarke is emerging as a dynamic scoring threat. Meanwhile, Clarke’s height, length, and athleticism have troubled opponents both at the defensive end and on the glass, where she averages 5.8 rebounds per game.

However, Clarke wasn’t the only sophomore consistently knocking down shots from deep. Seattle sharpshooter Courtney Murphy continues to build upon last season’s impressive start, shooting 5 of 10 from beyond the arc to finish with 17 points in the Redhawks’ 88-84 win over Sacramento State. The game was also notable for the performance of fellow Australian sophomore Georgia Kehoe. The redshirt freshman had never hit double figures for points or grabbed more than 4 rebounds in a game, but topped both those marks in an impressive effort. Kehoe connected on 5 of 8 from the field and 6 of 7 from deep to finish with 16 points and 7 rebounds, finishing as one of five Redhawks in double figures.

Elsewhere, a number of Aussies are hitting their straps as the season builds towards conference play.

  • Rosie Deegan continues to impress for Davidson, posting 20 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists in Davidson’s 73-63 win over High Point. Fellow freshman Adelaide Fuller also added 19 points and 5 rebounds as the duo combined for in excess of half of Davidson’s points. Deegan followed that performance with another 17 points and 8 rebounds in a 75-46 win over Division II side Newberry, whose roster features five Australians. Fuller also added 10 points, whilst sophomore Cassidy Gould chipped in 6 points, 4 rebounds, and 5 assists.

  • Utah State continue to struggle to put together back-to-back wins, but it’s not for a lack of trying from sophomore Steph Gorman. 16 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 steals in a 61-49 win over Division II Dixie State snapped a 2-game losing streak before the Aggies faced San Jose State in an early conference opener. Once again, Gorman was solid, tallying 15 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists, but San Jose State proved too strong in a 76-61 defeat as the Aggies finished the week at 3-5.

  • Ella Ogier has quietly become one of the better performed Aussie freshmen at this early stage of the season, and her outing against Kansas City proved vital to Omaha’s chances in a narrow 57-53 victory. The Victorian tallied an impressive 10 points, 12 rebounds, and 4 assists, and also came up with the go-ahead lay-up with just over a minute to play as the Mavericks moved to 4-5 with the win.

  • Senior Courtney Woods continues to put up outstanding numbers for Northern Illinois even as the Huskies suffer some early season jitters. Despite leading Milwaukee 52-49 after three quarters, a defensive implosion saw Northern Illinois give up a 29-14 final quarter as the Panthers outscored their entire first half production in the final 10 minutes to roll to a 78-65 victory. Woods finished with 19 points on 8 of 13 shooting, whilst also adding 6 rebounds and 4 assists as her scoring average hovers around the 18-point mark through eight games.

  • Gems teammates Miela Goodchild and Isabelle Bourne faced off as Duke faced Nebraska, and whilst it was Goodchild starring for the Blue Devils, Bourne and the Cornhuskers came away with the 83-79 victory. Goodchild knocked down 3 of 7 from deep on her way to 15 points and 3 rebounds, shooting 6 of 11 from the field. However, Bourne was also a factor, leading Nebraska with 7 rebounds alongside 6 points as the Cornhuskers just managed to hold off the Blue Devils.

  • St. Francis snapped a two-game losing streak with a win over East Stroudsburg, but it was the streak that Jade Johnson kept going that was far more impressive. With 16 points in the 84-62 victory, Johnson’s run of double-figure scoring games has now extended to 21, dating back to a 33-point outing against Long Island in January. The win moved St. Francis to 3-5, with three games to come before conference play commences following the Christmas break.

  • It’s taken a while, but things look to be coming together for Southern Utah sophomore Claudia Armato, who put together the first two double-figure scoring efforts of her career this week. Already with three games of six or more assists this season, the diminutive point guard turned her attention to scoring as the Thunderbirds picked up a pair of wins. Armato shot an efficient 4 of 6 from the field on her way to 11 points and 3 assists in a 72-58 win over Oral Roberts. That was followed by 11 points and 4 assists in an 82-68 victory against UC Irvine as the sophomore put a dismal 15% 3-point shooting percentage behind her to bury 2 of 5 from deep.