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Jade Johnson returns to form, leads St. Francis to rivalry win
A reliable three-point shooter throughout her time with St. Francis, Jade Johnson’s numbers in 2019/20 had been well down on her 42.6% clip in the previous season, hitting from outside at just 32%. However, the senior found her range at the perfect time, returning to her best in a 25-point outing to lead the Terriers to an 88-63 win over rivals Long Island in the 27th Battle of Brooklyn between the two sides.
Johnson eased into the game at the offensive end, but two early free throws allowed the South Australian to get her eye in, something that would come back to haunt a Long Island team looking for only its second win of the season. Although the first quarter ended with St. Francis leading by just four, the Terriers certainly had plenty more in their locker, and showed it in the second term.
Much of Johnson’s success in previous seasons had come in tandem with fellow Australian, Amy O’Neill running the offence for the Terriers. With O’Neill having moved on following her college career, freshman Nevena Dimitrijevic has taken over at the point guard spot. Indeed, it was the Serbian who assisted on all three of Johnson’s makes from deep in the second quarter as the Terriers opened up a 48-34 halftime advantage, with the resurgent Australian sharpshooter displaying her All-NEC credentials from beyond the arc.
The Terriers continued to edge ahead in the second half, with Johnson consistently hitting not only from deep but at the charity stripe. The senior finished a perfect 6 of 6 at the line, whilst the partnership with Dimitrijevic garnered another pair of threes after halftime. By far her best shooting performance of the season, the 5 of 6 outing served as a reminder of what Johnson can produce as her season three-point percentage swelled to 35.2%. Although that number still sits well below her 2018/19 numbers, Thursday’s performance may yet represent the turning of a corner as Johnson looks to finish her college career with a flourish. However, the outstanding shooting wasn’t the only impressive part of Johnson’s performance. Alongside the final 25-point tally, Johnson also posted a season-high 9 rebounds, just one shy of the career-high 10 set on two occasions last season.
Like Johnson, Northern Illinois’ Courtney Woods has had trouble finding her range from deep in her final season, but the redshirt senior has found other ways to points on the board in her comeback from last year’s season-ending ACL injury. Woods put up her sixth 20-point game of the season against Miami of Ohio, hitting 7 of 10 from 2-point range and 6 of 7 at the charity stripe on her way to 23 points and 8 rebounds. However, it would be Miami who finished the stronger of the two teams, grabbing a 66-64 win with a last-second lay-up. The 23-point outing improved Woods’ scoring average to 16.8 points per contest, and if the senior can get that famous three-point shot firing, that number will continue to improve.
Abbey Ellis continued her outstanding freshman season, posting her fourth 20-point outing and coming within a single point of a career-high in Cal Poly’s nail-biting 72-69 defeat to Long Beach State. Despite the result, Ellis was electric on offence, particularly from outside. The first-year star knocked down 7 of 11 from deep on her way to 28 points, whilst also contributing 7 rebounds and 3 assists, with Ellis’ scoring average now sitting among the upper echelon of Australians at 16.3 points per game.
Suzi-Rose Deegan has garnered the lion’s share of the spotlight for Davidson recently, but the Wildcats’ entire Australian trio featured among the leaders in a 74-62 win over Fordham. On this occasion, it was Adelaide Fuller’s turn to lead the scoring, with the freshman coming off the bench to shoot 7 of 9 from the field on her way to 18 points and 4 rebounds in just 18 minutes. Meanwhile, Suzi-Rose Deegan posted a third consecutive double-double, leading the Wildcats with 13 rebounds alongside 12 points. Sophomore Cassidy Gould tallied 9 points, whilst her 6 assists led Davidson in that category as the Wildcats knocked off a team tipped to finish in the top four in the Atlantic 10 preseason poll for the second consecutive game.
Portland’s roster also features an impressive Aussie trio, and on this occasion against Pacific, it was Alexandra Fowler and Haylee Andrews doing the bulk of the work after Keeley Frawley helped get the Pilots over the line against BYU last week. Fowler posted the third double-double of her short career, finishing with 20 points and 10 rebounds whilst also chipping in two blocks and a pair of steals. Andrews would finish with a team-high 21 points and 8 assists, hitting 13 of 18 free throws as the Pacific defence were often found wanting in attempting to stop the sophomore. Frawley chipped in 3 points and 7 rebounds as all three Australians made significant contributions, but a 48-35 second half deficit saw Portland fall to a narrow 77-72 defeat after an encouraging start. The loss may have dropped the Pilots to 1-3 in conference play, but they could easily have been 3-1 at this stage had the odd ball bounced their way against Gonzaga and Pacific.