NCAA Spotlight on the Aussie Women: Farley and Barr earn conference accolades (11-Jan-14)

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

Small Talk

Utah State's Stephanie Bairstow leads us into this week's recap as she guided her team to a victory against San José State 78-65. Bairstow had a solid game in compiling a career-high 10 points while also cleaning up 5 rebounds in 22 minutes. Hopefully we can look to see Bairstow build further on this promising performance. After this victory, Utah State improve to a positive 8-5 record and next play at home against Nevada.

The South Dakota Coyotes cleaned up in their 74-70 win against Cleveland State. This was accomplished without the Coyotes leading scorer Nicole Seekamp who has been having a great season, having been sidelined with an ankle injury.

Massachusetts came up empty-handed as they suffered setback against Fordham. Kiara Bomben quietly contributed 10 points, 2 assists and 2 rebounds in 30 minutes of action.

Moving on, St. Francis Brooklyn recorded a win against Mount St. Mary's in a low scoring game 52-47. Victorian Guard Elildh Simpson had a frustrating game in shooting just 3/10 from the field but still managed to gather 15 points and 4 rebounds in 29 minutes. Junior team-mate Jessica Kaufman had 8 points and 3 boards in 30 minutes. With this victory they now improve to a 10-2 record and over the past week were ranked by as number 25 in their mid-major poll.

After being honoured with team of the week in the last recap, the Saint Mary's Gael's have struggled as a team and have not capitalised on opportunities. While the Australian girls at Saint Mary's have been putting up some nice numbers, it has not been enough to get them over the line as they clocked up twoi uncharacteristic back-to-back losses. In the Gael's first setback this week they fell to San Diego 70-80. Kate Gaze chimed in 13 points, 4 rebounds and 2 steals in 36 minutes of action.

Hoping to bounce back, the Gael's once again fell short in suffering a 67-69 overtime loss to Brigham Young. Once again Kate Gaze was her consistent self going in compiling 14 points and 4 assists in 39 minutes of game time, while team-mate Lauren Nicholson chipped in 8 points and 4 rebounds in 32 minutes. This game was the Gael's 3rd overtime game of the season, and two of the Gael's three losses have been by just 2 points.

Players of the Week

Last week it was 5'7" freshman guard Vanessa Panoussis who was furnished with the honours after she lead Virginia Tech with a strong double-double. This week I could not separate Fresno State's South Australian guard Bree Farley and Idaho's Victorian guard Stacey Barr who both share the Player of the Week award.

Farley has been outstanding in the last 2 wins for the Fresno State Bulldogs in averaging 17 points and 8 rebounds while also being named Mountain West Player of the Week.

The 5'10 guard led the Bulldogs to a 72-63 win against Boise State and she certainly had a game to remember! In shooting a sizzling 6/8 from the field that included an amazing 4/5 from beyond the three-point arc, Farley recorded her first career double-double in collecting a season-high 20 points and a career-high 11 rebounds in 35 minutes. Farley's Aussie team-mates were also key contributors to the win. Sophomore center Jacinta Vandenberg had a game high 13 rebounds in 29 minutes while fellow Victorian Alex Sheedy contributed 14 points, 6 rebounds and a tied game high of 4 steals in 35 minutes. Farley had this to say after the win;

"I think our coaching staff is always putting a big emphasis on rebounding there was a couple of games during [non-conference play] where we got beat pretty bad on points in the paint with just pour defense and second-chance points, so we definitely had a focus on that in practice for weeks and weeks. It's really good to see results coming out of that."

Farley continued her hot shooting in her next game where she was able to help the Bulldogs dispatch Air Force 77-43 in a solid performance from all three Aussies. She put up 10 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals while once again inflicting damage by shooting 4/5 from the field in 23 minutes. Vandenberg once again cleaned up the boards with 7 in 19 minutes of action, whilst Sheedy contributed by chiming in with her third double-double of the season; 17 points, 10 rebounds and 4 assists in 23 minutes. This solid win improves Fresno State's record to 9-5.

Junior guard Stacey Barr was also worthy of being named co-Aussie Player of the Week after last week being named Western Athletic Conference Player of The Week following a couple of spectacular performances.

It was her third such accolade in her collegiate career to date and this is what she had to say after receiving the award;

In Barr's first game of the week, the Vandals easily overcame Chicago State 92-42. Barr racked up a double-double with 21 points and 12 rebounds to go with 6 assists in 29 minutes of action. The Vandals controlled the paint with 55 rebounds compared to Chicago States 36. Barr made this statement after the big win;

“We definitely played as a team. We worked well inside and we ran the ball, which was one of our main focuses. We try not to complain about it [travel and airport delays]. We got to Chicago and did our walk through this morning at the hotel and we really just focused on the game.”

Continuing to impress, Barr had her biggest game of the season, and arguably the best of all the Aussies so far this season, as Idaho accounted for Texas-Pan American 78-65. Barr was on fire in shooting 11/16 from the field as she gathered an impressive double-double of 29 points and 11 rebounds in 33 minutes. This was Barr's sixth double-double of the Season and Vandals Head Coach Jon Newlee was glowing of his star Australian guard;

“We came back from the road trip and she [Barr] immediately just got out the shooting machine and took hundreds of extra shots in the last two days. Her hard work paid off tonight. She got back on track and felt comfortable out there. Her shot looked great. It is a testament to her hard work.”

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