The opening night of the 2019/20 college season featured a number of outstanding performances by Australians, but perhaps none were more intriguing to watch than that delivered by Davidson’s trio of Australians in a 66-52 victory over Georgetown. Sophomore Cassidy Gould and freshman pairing Adelaide Fuller and Rosie Deegan were all among the Wildcats’ leaders as Davidson defended their territory against their Big East foe.
The only one of the three to start the contest, Gould showcased the all-round game that has made the Victorian a vital cog in the Wildcats’ machine, particularly early in the piece. Seven first half points alongside four rebounds and four assists represented the bulk of Gould’s output as the sophomore finished with 10 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists. Gould was also perfect from the free throw line in the first half as Davidson rolled to a 34-16 halftime advantage on their way to the 14-point victory.
Fuller and Deegan entered the game together to make their college debuts early in the first quarter, with Fuller immediately finding her groove. The forward showed outstanding touch both around the rim and from mid-range, connecting on her first three shots to finish the first half with six points on 3 of 4 shooting. The Queenslander would finish the game with an even 10 points on a solid 5 of 8 night from the field, whilst also collecting three rebounds in her 19 minutes on court.
Deegan took longer to work her way into the game, but once the Western Australian found her rhythm, Georgetown were at a loss to limit her impact on the game. Having finished the first half with just one three pointer and a solitary free throw from two attempts to her name, a Rosie Deegan that looked more like the one that dominated at both youth and state league level came out in the second half. Four of Deegan’s seven rebounds came at the offensive end, where her athleticism and anticipation turned a couple of those boards into putbacks, with one tip-in particularly memorable as the freshman swanned in from the weak side completely unchecked to finish the play. Deegan finished the game as Davidson’s leading scorer with 16 points, whilst also finishing with eight rebounds, second-most for the Wildcats as all three Australians saw their seasons get off to hot starts.
However, in a packed opening day, the story from Davidson was hardly the only one worth mentioning. Between solid debut performances and upperclassmen picking up where they left off last season, it was a highlight-filled day for Australians.
On her long-awaited return from last year’s season-ending ACL injury, Courtney Woods chalked up a team-high 22 points for Northern Illinois in their 59-53 loss to Harvard. Despite a tough 1 of 10 shooting night from deep, Woods finished the game 7 of 22 from the field, connected on 7 of 8 free throws, and collected 4 rebounds in 33 minutes.
JUCO transfer Tahanee Bennell knocked down 5 of 9 from deep on her way to 21 points on debut in Austin Peay’s 103-70 win over Kentucky Wesleyan, whilst freshman Ella Sawyer added 16 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists.
Saint Mary’s sophomore Sam Simons demonstrated why she was a Preseason All-WCC selection, leading the Gaels with 21 points in their 78-72 loss to Nevada.
Senior Jade Johnson tallied 21 points, connecting on 4 of 9 from deep and 7 of 7 at the line in St. Francis’ 86-73 loss to Stony Brook in their first game without now-Southside Flyers point guard Amy O’Neill.
Amy Atwell tallied a 17-point, 11-rebound double-double in Hawaii’s thrilling 61-58 victory over San Diego State. The junior not only led the Rainbow Wahine in both scoring and rebounding, but scored her team’s last seven points of the game in the final 75 seconds to see Hawaii edge home after the game was tied 54-54 with just over a minute to play. Fellow Aussie Courtney Middap also had a late impact on the game, dishing the assist to Atwell for one of those late baskets, one of four dimes for the Tasmanian.
Ahlise Hurst and Bride Kennedy-Hopoate each started for New Mexico in their 80-70 win over UC Riverside, with Hurst catching fire from beyond the arc. The sophomore hit 6 of 7 from deep on her way to 21 points, whilst Iowa State transfer Kennedy-Hopoate tallied 5 points and 5 rebounds on debut for the Lobos.
Having been handed a debut start, La Salle freshman Claire Jacobs exploded for 20 points in the Explorers' 78-62 win over Howard. The Western Australian buried 4 of 5 from deep, whilst twin sister Amy added 8 points off the bench.
Eve Braslis picked up where she left off last season, with the sophomore putting up 16 points and 5 rebounds in Utah Valley’s 59-51 loss to UC Santa Barbara. Freshman Sydney Wright made her debut for the Wolverines, playing 4 minutes.
Wake Forest senior Alex Sharp showed no signs of last season’s injury problems, hitting 7 of 12 from the field on her way to 14 points and 10 rebounds as the Demon Deacons charged home in a 65-55 win over UNC Wilmington.
Foul trouble limited Lauren Calver to 15 minutes off the bench for Houston Baptist against LSU-Shreveport, but that was all the time the senior needed to tally 14 points on 6 of 8 shooting. Calver also collected 3 rebounds, whilst Abbey Sutherland scored two points on debut as Houston Baptist rolled to a 67-44 win.
Georgia Dale did a bit of everything in Cal Baptist’s 79-70 win over Long Beach State. The junior contributed 13 points, 4 rebounds, and 6 assists, once again demonstrating her role as a leader on court for the Lancers.
Ella Ogier started on debut for Nebraska-Omaha, tallying 12 points and 4 rebounds, but the Mavericks fell to a 67-54 defeat to Creighton.
Louise Brown made her long-awaited return from an ACL injury as well as her debut for Tennessee, and the Lady Vols needed every last one of her 11 points and 8 rebounds. Tennessee just escaped East Tennessee State 72-68, with freshman Jessie Rennie also making her debut, playing 24 minutes.
Sophia Locandro came off the bench for UC Irvine on debut, posting a vital 11 points on 5 of 7 shooting as the Anteaters eked out a 79-77 victory in a thriller over San Jose State. Fellow freshman Jayde Cadee also saw her first college action, playing a single minute.
Washington State freshman Emma Nankervis connected on 3 of 6 from the field whilst going a perfect 4 of 4 from the free throw line to finish with 10 points on debut against Pepperdine. The Cougars would roll to an 85-48 win, with sophomore Ula Motuga chipping in 5 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists. For the Waves, Mia Satie collected an impressive 10 rebounds alongside two points.
Katia Stamatelopoulos dished and swished her way to 10 points and 5 assists on debut for Colorado State as the Rams routed Chadron State 102-51. Sophomore Taylor Mole also contributed, adding 5 points and 5 rebounds in 19 minutes.