NCAA Spotlight on the Aussie Women: The best 'Barr' none (6-Dec-13)

Michael De Lacy takes a quick look back over the last 2 weeks of NCAA Division I hoops action and calls out the notable performances by the Aussie women.

Small Talk

Boston's Mollie McKendrick get's our weekly recap underway, as she guided her team to a win against Monmouth 52-43. McKendrick had a solid game matching her career high of 14 points while also cleaning up 8 boards in 31 minutes. In her next game, a 56-62 loss to Old Dominion, she recorded an impressive double-double. She went 6/18 from the field to score 14 points in once again matching her career high, but she also hauled in a huge 16 rebounds in 29 minutes. Those are some impressive individual performances by a promising your talent.

Bianca Babic from Murray State put in a solid effort against Saint Louis in an 83-64 win. Babic racked up a game-high 17 points in 23 minutes. The Racers had the lead throughout the entire game as they shot a high 45% from beyond the arc. As a follow-up against Kennesaw State, the Racers managed to snare their second win in a row. Babic led the team in rebounds with 8, while also adding 6 points and 2 steals in 28 minutes.

Massachusetts forward Kiara Bomben had 10 points and 1 steal in 27 minutes of action as they won 63-59 against Hartford; a reasonably quiet game from Bomben by her lofty standards. In her next game she struggled with her shot, going 2/9 from the field for 6 points, including 1/6 from downtown in 24 minutes in a loss to Holy Cross 54-76. She then followed up with a 5 point, 2 assist and 2 block outing in 21 minutes as her team lost again, this time a 56-86 loss to Maine. Over the last 3 games, Bomben has seen her playing time reduce as Massachusetts fall back to a 2-5 record.

The Australian girls at Frenso State have continued to play a leading role in their winning ways. In their recent contest against Liberty in the foirst round of the Seton Hall Thanksgiving Classic, the Bulldogs came up with the win by 4 points (70-66). Bree Farley was rock solid with 13 points, 3 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 assists, with Alex Sheedy grabbing 14 points, 2 assists and 3 steals in 32 minutes of action. Jacinta Vandenberg experienced a quiet game in logging just 4 points, 3 blocks and 2 rebounds. The only area the girls could look to iron out was the 11 turnovers they gave up amongst themselves.

In the championship game against Seton Hall, Fresno State could not manage to hold on for a win in a game where there was 15 lead changes. However Vandenberg put aside her quiet earlier game to come up big for arguably one of her best games of her promising career. She secured her second career double-double in registering 39 minutes, consisting of 10 points, 14 rebounds and a new career-high 4 blocks (all in the first 20 minutes). Farley only saw a limited 11 minutes on court and had 2 rebounds and 3 assists, while Sheedy was a cold 1/10 from the field with 7 rebounds in 36 minutes. The Bulldogs shot a paltry 32.1% from the field in this game, and resulted in Fresno State dropping to a 3-3 record.

5’10” South Dakota guard Nicole Seekamp was in fine form as she racked up a season-high 26 points to help lead her team to a 74-61 win against Boise State. Seekamp had her finger prints all over this game, going 10/19 from the fied to also log 4 rebounds, 1 block and 3 steals in 32 minutes. In Seekamp's next game South Dakota were toppled by Creighton 48-62, however she still managed to score 17 points with 8 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals in 35 minutes. She was the only player to score in double figures for her team and was a shining light in what was otherwise a game to forget. However South Dakota was able to put that loss behind them quickly, with Seekamp once agin leading them to a win, this time over Wyoming 82-78. Seekamp was again in everything; scoring 18 points with, 2 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals and 3 blocks in 36 minutes and ensure a 3-5 record to start the season.

Bucknell's lone Aussie Claire Maree O’Bryan had big couple of games, and first it was in helping the Bisons skate over Cornell 72-59. She went 7/12 from the field in compiling 18 points and 2 assists. In O'Bryan's next game she backed up with 7 points, 6 rebounds and 3 steals in 19 minutes as the Bisons managed to get over the Penguins 66-41.

Player of the Week

Last time it was Victorian center Jacinta Vandenberg who took the honours, however this time around we have a new face. The Vandals' Stacey Barr was outstanding and deserves the call-out this week. she has had a brilliant individual start to the season, and is averaging 16.33 points per game.

Barr on the way to the rack vs UConn - Courtesy University of Idaho Athletics

In the junior guard's first game of the week she recorded a massive double-double, her first of the season and a performance alone that could not go unnoticed. She went just 5/15 from the field but had 9/15 from the foul line in scoring a season-high 21 points, however she also pulled down a new career-high 16 rebounds. She also managed 2 assists in front of a parochial home crowd in guiding Idaho to a 68-63 victory over UC Irvine.

Despite a follow-up double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds with 3 assists and 2 steals, the Vandals lost to San Diego. In this game, Barr moved into a tie for sixth on the Idaho's all-time three-point list with 126 made triples.

In the first game of the John Ascuagas Nugget Classic, the Vandals earned a 88-77 win, and it was Barr again in sublime form. This time Barr recorded 23 points in shooting 8/15 from the field, while also picking up 3 assists and 2 steals in 30 minutes. In the final game of the Classic, the Vandals went down to the Bears 55-59. Barr placed another double-double on the table, with 14 points and 11 rebounds in 34 minutes.

And in finishing up profiling the outstanding exploits of Barr over the past week or so, the Vandals earned yet another win in dismantling the Saints 67-39. Barr went an efficient 6/8 from the field in grabbing 20 points alongside 8 boards in 29 minutes of play. Through her sheer weight of consistent numbers, she was simply superb.

Team of the Week

In my last edition, the team of the week was Virginia Tech with Saint Mary's coming in close behind. This time around it is Saint Mary's who takes home the chocolates. The Gael's have leaped out of the gates on their way to a spectacular 7-0 start to the season.

Gaze in action for the Gael's vs BYU - Courtesy Saint Mary's College Athletics

It begins with Saint Mary's grabbing the win over Cal Poly 77-69. Kaze Gaze grabbed 21 points that included an amazing 12/14 from the charity stripe to go with 5 assists and a career-high 8 rebounds. Gaze started this game shooting 0 from 8 from the field, this effort really shows what kind of player she become over the last few years. Hannah Kaser had 7 points and a career high 2 steals, while Lauren Nicholson had 9 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists in 34 minutes. In this game fellow American teammate Danielle Mauldin had a staggering 22 point and 22 rebound double-double! Fellow Aussie Maddison Allen managed to compile 10 points, 7 rebounds, 3 blocks in 28 minutes for Cal Poly before being fouled out of the game.

In the Hilton Concord Thanksgiving Classic, Saint Mary's began with an intense an 86-76 win over Alabama. The Gaels shot a hot 49% from the field, with Gaze played a spectacular game. She secured a double-double, but just missing out on the triple-double, with a full stat line of 10 points, 12 assists and 8 rebounds in 39 minutes on court. Nicholson exploded for a new career-high 28 points as she went 9/12 from the field that included nailing 7 triples!

In the final game of the Classic, Saint Mary's secured the crown easily against Toledo as they cruised to an 81-57 victory. Nicholson was perfect from the field in scoring 10 points alongside 3 assists, while Gaze scrambled up her usual stat stuffing effort managing 12 points and 5 rebounds but with a poor 8 turnovers in 33 minutes of playing time. Nicholson averaged 19 points in the two wins during the Hilton Concord Thanksgiving Classic, shooting an impressive 13/16 from the field combined including a sizzling 8/10 from downtown.

Nicholson and Gaze have a secured a great one-two connection in clutch moments of games where they have been able to find each other open for easy shots. Opposing teams will need to recognise this early in order to shut down and beat Saint Mary's and stop their streak.

Who was your Aussie player or team of the past week? Did anyone get missed that should have received a mention? Share your opinion by posting a reply.