NCAA Spotlight on the Aussie Women: Barr continues to burn (17-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 Saint Mary's Gaels get this week's recap underway with a 21 point victory over San Francisco 86-67. Lauren Nicholson led the Gaels in putting together some nice numbers; going 4/6 from down-town in compiling 18 points in 28 minutes. Team-mate Kate Gaze was unusually quiet with just 4 points and 3 steals in 30 minutes. In their next game, Kate Gaze bounced back with a solid 13 points, 5 assists and 4 turnovers in 33 minutes as the Gael's earned a 71-48 victory over Pepperdine. During the game, Gaze passed former team-mate Jasmine Smith as she moved into fourth spot in school history with 160 career made three-pointers. With their third win in a row, Saint Mary’s improves to a 15-3 overall record.

Remaining undefeated in the New Year, the Fresno State Bulldogs managed to extend their winning streak to 4 as they outscored Colorado State 60-50. The Bulldogs started the game with an effective defensive press which allowed them to get some quick fast break scores to open up a gap. Victorian Guard Alex Sheedy put together 8 points, 5 rebounds and a huge 6 steals in 30 minutes. Center Jacinta Vandenberg had a strong game in the paint, with the first bucket of the game that got her confidence going early. She ended up snagging 12 points and 5 rebounds in 21 minutes. South Australian Bree Farley was also rock solid in finishing with 9 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists in 33 mins of action.

The Bulldogs winning streak came to a grinding halt against San Diego State in what turned out to be a tightly contested battle. San Diego State hit a jump shot with only a few seconds remaining to edge them ahead 70-69 in a nail-biting contest. It was Fresno State's first Mountain West Conference loss of the season, with the Bulldogs falling to 10-6 overall on the season. Sheedy led the way in going 7/13 from the field in matching her career-high of 21 points alongside 4 rebounds and 2 steals in 32 minutes. She is not just scoring either as she has lifted defensively, averaging 3.3 steals over her last 4 games. Vandenberg had a quiet night and produced just 3 rebounds and 2 steals in 16 minutes, while Farley chipped in 15 points including 5/9 on three-pointers in 38 minutes.

South Dakota's Nicole Seekamp returned from an ankle injury and appeared to be rusty in an 84-91 loss to the Denver Pioneers. Seekamp was a cold 1/7 from the field but nailed 11/12 from the charity stripe in scoring 13 points with 2 steals in 31 minutes.

Hawaii's Ashleigh Karaitiana had a strong game in leading her team to a victory over Cal State Northridge 54-44. 6’0” Karaitiana finished the game one rebound shy of a double-double, compiling 14 points and 9 rebounds in 27 minutes on court.

Utah State and Stephanie Bairstow suffered their first loss of the year in falling short 72-76 to Nevada. Bairstow played the best game of her career thus far, compiling a career-high 14 points on 5/9 shooting to go with 4 rebounds and 1 steal in 29 minutes.

The North Dakota State Bisons came up short in their game against the IUPUI Jaguars 46-71. Victorian Marena Whittle led the Bison's with 12 points, 6 rebounds, 2 blocks and 2 steals in 21 minutes, but she was unable to get the support required to avoid a 25-point loss. In the Bison's next game they once again were unable to earn a win, going down 48-66 to Omaha. Whittle's shooting was off in going 5/20 from the field, but she still added 10 points and 7 rebounds in a strong defensive effort once again which included 3 steals and 3 blocks in 34 minutes.

St. Francis Brooklyn Terriers extended their winning streak to 8 games after outscoring LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds 68-48. Junior guard Eilidh Simpson went 5/8 from the field in contributing a team high 17 points in 30 minutes, while team-mate Jessica Kaufman finished with 6 points, 3 rebounds and 3 steals in 23 minutes. The Terriers winning streak however then came to an end following an exciting double overtime loss to Mount St. Mary's Mountaineers 79-85. Simpson had a nice game all-round game, grabbing 20 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals in 46 minutes which also was her first career double-double. Kaufman had 6 points, 7 rebounds and 2 assists in 39 minutes on court. After this loss the Terriers now sit tight with a very good 12-3 overall record.

Another close game featured the Virginia Tech Hokies who narrowly lost to Miami 62-64. The Hokies had many chances to send the game into overtime in the final stages, including a missed jump shot by Hannah Young. However they were unable to capitalise on their attempts and went home empty-handed. Vanessa Panoussis collected an impressive 15 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists in 39 minutes of action, while team-mate Young had 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks in 26 minutes.

Player & Team of the Week

The Idaho Vandals are in the midst of a perfect start to 2014 after streaking to 5 straight wins. That's why the Vandals earn the honor of team of the week in this recap, and their success has a lot to do with their star Australian guard Stacey Barr - her 4th such accolade this season.

Stacey Barr drives - Courtesy University of Idaho Athletics

Playing a well-oiled, team oriented style of game, the Vandals have experienced a text-book start to the year with Barr averaging 16.8 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. Coming off her 29-point game last week, she has continued playing at a spectacular level that has seen her averaging 21.7 points and 9 rebounds per game over the last 4 games. It's no surprise that Barr is scoring at this level after averaging 29 points a game in Australia's Big V Division 1, which also included a 55 point game, prior to heading to college.

Barr made it look easy in a 79-51 win over New Mexico State, grabbing a double-double consisting of 16 points and 10 rebounds to go with 4 assists in only 23 minutes of action to rack up her 11th career double-double. However she was not done just yet, continuing her stellar play in another victory, this time a thrashing of Utah Valley 96-55. Barr was at her efficient best in going 7/10 from field for a game-high 21 points with 3 rebounds and 2 assists in 28 minutes. This outing ended her run of double-double's but maintained her double-digit scoring streak now up to 9. The Vandals shot an extremely high 50 percent from beyond the arc, but also matched their season high of 13 three-pointers made. Vandals Coach Jon Newlee made this statement after the win;

“From an offensive standpoint, we were just rolling. We were moving the basketball. Ali [Forde] and Alyssa [Charslton] got their touches inside, which really opened the outside game. We shot so well in shoot around today I joked with my assistants saying, geez I hope we keep some of these for tonight, it was unbelievable. It was good to see it translate over to tonight.”

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.