NCAA Spotlight on the Aussie Women: Saint Mary's undefeated at home (5-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

The Fresno State Bulldogs kick off this week's New Years recap with a 32-point loss to Stanford 54-86. Alex Sheedy led her Australian team-mates but struggled with her stroke going 5/20 from the field; she did however manage to snag her second double-double of the season with 15 points and 11 rebounds in 27 minutes.

The Bulldogs then bounced back to start the New Year on a high with an impressive win, easily overcoming UNLV 79-63. This win broke a two-game losing streak for the Bulldogs and it was once again Alex Sheedy leading the way. This time she poured in a season high 20 points and 5 rebounds in 33 minutes. Bree Farley chimed in with a solid 15 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and a career-high 7 steals in 29 minutes. Center Jacinta Vandenberg was the only starter that didn't crack the double figures in scoring, however she made up for this by recording a new career high of 5 blocks with 8 points and 9 rebounds in 31 minutes.

The North Dakota State Bisons came up empty-handed against Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners 68-79. Marena Whittle contributed some solid numbers which included 9 points, 3 rebounds and 2 steals in 25 minutes of action. In a follow-up loss, the Bison's fell short against North Western State 50-57. Marena Whittle was the clear stand-out in this game in compiling 10 points, 6 rebounds and a team-high 3 steals in 32 minutes.

Stacey Barr's Idaho Vandals were unable to scrap a win against Texas, eventually going down 58-87 in solid performance. Barr struggled with her stroke, converting only 3/12 from the field but still managing to gather 12 points and 3 assists in 27 minutes of action in a frustrating game for the young Victorian. On a lighter note the Vandals have made at least one three-point basket in 179 consecutive games whilst Barr is also averaging a high 15.9 points per game.

St. Francis Brooklyn extended their winning streak to two games after a close encounter with Delaware State (68-55). Jessica Kaufman had a cold shooting night going 1/7 from the field compiling 4 points and 4 rebounds in 21 minutes, while Victorian team-mate Eilidh Simpson did some damage in managing 11 points, 4 assists and 1 steal in 36 minutes.

Team of the Week

The impressive Saint Mary's Gael's are the team that keeps on giving after they improved to an overall 12-1 record. The Gael's remain undefeated on their home court and are also averaging an incredible 82.2 points per game. They enjoy the spotlight this week after they grabbed a thrilling 79-78 overtime win against West Coast Conference rivals Gonzaga. The nailbiting game was tied with 0.3 seconds left after the Gael's Jackie Nared hit a 3-pointer to bring the already entertaining game into overtime. Victorian Guard Kate Gaze was unable to escape her shooting slump, going just 1/10 from the field and an unforgiving 10 turnovers in 38 minutes of action. Thankfully 6’0” guard Lauren Nicholson chipped in 12 points and 6 rebounds in 39 minutes. Head Coach Paul Thomas had this to say after their thrilling win over Gonzaga;

“Gazey struggled, but I was not going to go away from her today. She’s been here too long for her to not be on the court.”

The Gael's continued their stellar playing with an easy 80-65 win over Portland which included an amazing 35-13 run which helped the Gael's slip away and end Portland's 3-game winning streak. Kate Gaze had a big game in breaking her shooting funk by accumulating a team-high 20 points including going 5/9 from 3-point range in 37 minutes. Lauren Nicholson contributed a important 10 points in 12 minutes of court time.

Player of the Week

In this week's player of the week I couldn't go past Virginia Tech's 5’7 freshman guard Vanessa Panoussis. Panoussiss was outstanding in leading the Hokies with a big double-double of 15 points and 10 assists. This was the Hokie's first game of the New Year and it was an exciting 70-64 victory against Robert Morris.

Vanessa Panoussis in control against Florida - Courtesy Virginia Tech Athletics

In their second game of the week, Virginia Tech was unable to overcome Hampton in going down 60-70 despite chasing down a 19-point deficit. It was however a relatively quiet game from all three Aussies who only converted a combined 3/16 from the field. After a big game in her previous outing Vanessa Panousis went 1/8 from the field in collecting 9 points and 3 rebounds in 27 minutes. Sophomore Hannah Young went 1/5 from the field for 3 points and 6 rebounds in 28 minutes, while guard Madison Penn has been surprisingly quiet in her last two games after a big outing last week; she finished with just 3 points in 7 minutes. The Hokie's are currently 7-1 on their home court, and are currently sitting on a 10-3 record overall.

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.