It’s becoming fairly clear that Alex Fowler is already one of the top players in the West Coast Conference, but the performance that the freshman put together against Loyola Marymount on the weekend was simply astounding even by her own standards. The freshman crushed the opposition at both ends on her way to a mammoth double-double, earning a league-leading third West Coast Conference Player of the Week award of the season.
With Portland just a win away from securing a top-four berth in the standings, a win over the struggling Lions should have been a mere formality. However the game proved to be a fight throughout the 40 minutes.
Loyola Marymount took an early lead before Portland wrested control of the contest early in the second quarter. With Fowler chipping in points with regularity, the Pilots opened up a 34-27 lead, only to see their advantage evaporate as the scoring dried up late in the half as the teams went in at halftime locked at 42-42.
But with Fowler dominating in close quarters at both ends, Portland kept pace with the home side after halftime. All eight of the Queenslander’s third quarter points came in the paint, whilst her rebounding proved crucial as she posted a double-double late in the third quarter to help Portland to a 61-60 advantage.
Someone had to break this game open in the fourth quarter, and once again Fowler stepped up when required. The Pilots’ offence obliterated Loyola Marymount with 28 points in the final term, with Fowler contributing 11 of those points. Importantly, the vast majority of those points came as the Pilots were building their advantage into something they could defend down the stretch. A simply dominant effort saw Fowler finish as one of two Portland players with 27 points, whilst her 17 rebounds topped her previous mark of 14, set way back in November against Fresno State.
Fellow Townsville product Haylee Andrews would ice the game at the line for Portland, rounding out an impressive 15-point, 6-rebound, 6-assist performance with some late free throws as the Pilots wrapped up an 89-78 victory. The result assured Portland of a top-four spot in the West Coast Conference, and if results go their way, they could yet finish with a top-two spot if they can knock off top side Gonzaga. That sounds like a tall order, but it is worth remembering that Portland led by 20 earlier in the season on Gonzaga’s home floor before the Zags rallied for the comeback victory.
Smack-bang in the middle of a logjam in the Big West standings, UC Irvine found themselves in serious need of a win over Long Beach State if they were to creep up the ladder. Enter Jayde Cadee, who for the third time this season activated flamethrower mode from beyond the arc.
The Anteaters fell in an early 18-10 hole, and despite trailing 35-32 at halftime, Cadee had already posted 9 points on a trio of triples to keep UC Irvine’s score ticking over in a crucial contest. Any basketball fan in Australia could tell you not to let anyone named Cadee get hot from deep, but evidently that message hadn’t reached Long Beach. Four threes in the space of three minutes in the latter portion of the third quarter flipped a slender Long Beach State advantage into a six-point UC Irvine lead, putting the Anteaters in the box seat with ten minutes remaining.
Having already buried seven from deep for the second time this season, Cadee came up with her eighth at a crucial time. Long Beach State had cut the margin to three, but the freshman’s 24th point of the night sparked a run that put the Anteaters up 12 with two minutes to play before securing a vital 70-61 victory.
Cadee’s three-point barrage saw the freshman set a new career scoring high, with her 24 points topping the 21 she had tallied in a narrow 59-56 loss to SMU in late December. On both occasions, every one of Cadee’s points came from beyond the arc, which has been a running theme of Cadee’s season. 46 of her 47 made field goals have come from beyond the arc, with a sole jumper from inside the arc against UC Santa Barbara her lone two-point make of the campaign.
Georgia Pineau’s senior campaign has been something of a struggle at times, but on her own Senior Day, the Victorian showed signs of her best as Boston College knocked off Miami 75-64 to extend the celebrations. Pineau took advantage of her Senior Day start with an impressive 20-point performance, connecting on 8 of 15 from the field and a perfect 4 of 4 at the charity stripe. The 20 points were Pineau’s highest score of the season, whilst the rebound and assist counts were each her second-highest of the campaign. The Eagles now sit a healthy 10-6 in ACC play, with a crunch game against 9-7 Syracuse to come on the final day of the regular season.
Courtney Woods also performed admirably on Senior Day, and whilst Northern Illinois couldn’t secure a win, the Queenslander once again put on a show for the Huskies faithful in a 70-66 defeat to Central Michigan. Despite scoring just 4 points in a 33-33 first half, Woods put that behind her after halftime with a dominant second-half effort. The senior posted 17 points to finish with 21, keeping her team in the hunt deep into the game before Central Michigan escaped with a late run. Woods also collected a season-high 12 rebounds, taking her season tallies to 18.6 points and 5.9 boards per contest.
Ahlise Hurst may not be a senior, but that didn’t prevent the New Mexico guard from pouring in the points for the Lobos against Boise State. Despite seven places separating the teams in the Mountain West Conference standings, Hurst helped New Mexico push the second-placed Broncos all the way before Boise State pulled away late for a 95-76 victory. Hurst finished with a game-high 23 points, connecting on 6 of 7 at the line and 3 of 6 from beyond the arc. The sophomore’s three-point shooting for the season now sits at 36.2%, a vast improvement on last year’s 26.8% and a major part of the reason Hurst’s scoring has jumped from 7.6 points per game in her freshman year to 13.8 in 2019/20.
Sitting equal-bottom in the Summit League, a conference that invites all bar the bottom team to the conference tournament, Omaha desperately needed a victory over fellow cellar-dwellers Purdue Fort Wayne. Enter Aussie freshman Ella Ogier. 12 first half points combined with some absolutely stellar defence from the Mavericks saw Omaha take a 30-14 halftime lead. Purdue Fort Wayne would hit back in the third quarter, but Ogier’s day out culminated in 20 points for the Victorian and a crucial 65-51 victory for Omaha. With a tiebreaker in hand and just two games remaining in conference season, the Mavericks can now breathe slightly easier as they chase the final Summit League tournament spot.