NCAA Women: Aussie women run riot

It was a week to remember for many of the Aussie women this week, as no less than four players registered career-high scoring performances, while Virginia Tech’s Hannah Young equaled a record that she now shares with Vanessa Panousis.

Funda Nakkasoglu | Credit: Utah State Athletics

Funda Nakkasoglu was named Utah State’s Athlete of the Week for the third time in the last four weeks thanks to two 20 point games, the Aggies coming away with a 1-1 split. The sophomore point guard racked up 24 points on 6/18 shooting and 8/10 from the line in an 81-67 loss to Idaho State. She then paced the Aggies in a 76-72 win over Utah Valley, hitting 6 of 14 from the field and 8 of 10 free throws for 21 points, whilst also collecting 4 assists. Freshman Rachel Brewster chipped in with 4 points and 4 rebounds against Idaho State, and another 7 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists against Utah Valley.

Hannah Young had a solid start to the week, the senior forward scoring 13 points and pulled down 4 rebounds in Virginia Tech’s 73-33 demolition of Morgan State However it was the second game of the week in which Young really impressed. She would land 6/9 three-pointers in a 72-39 win over Coppin State, equaling the Virginia Tech record for most threes in one game at the Hokies’ home gym, Cassell Coliseum.

Young led the Hokies in both points and rebounds, with 23 and 7, and in doing so also eclipsed her career-high scoring performance. Vanessa Panousis, with whom Young now shares the Cassell Coliseum trey's record, had a couple of solid performances as well. The junior had 10 points and 6 assists against Morgan State, and another 9 points and 4 rebounds against Coppin State as the Hokies enjoyed a couple of big wins this week.

Louise Brown enjoyed her best week of the season so far as the Washington State sophomore notched double figures in both games across weekend. Brown accounted for over a quarter of Washington State’s points against Gonzaga, scoring 14 in a 55-48 win, also collecting 4 rebounds. For Gonzaga, Georgia Stirton had just the 3 points, but was responsible for 6 of Gonzaga’s 10 assists.

Lauren Nicholson | Credit Tod Fierner/Saint Mary's College Athletics

Washington State then came up against Saint Mary’s, and whilst Brown scored 10 points, this game belonged to Saint Mary’s senior Lauren Nicholson as the Gaels won a tight one 75-71. Nicholson scored 24 points, and whilst her 6/19 field goal shooting was nothing special, Nicholson hit 12/15 from the charity stripe including 8 in a row in a clutch final two minutes. The senior guard also tacked on 6 assists and 5 rebounds, whilst Hannah Kaser and Megan McKay each had 5 points for the Gaels.

Indiana State ran Indiana close in a 53-50 loss, and they had Ashley Taia to thank for the game being that close. Taia scored a career high 21 points on 7/13 shooting, including 5/9 from beyond the arc, hitting shots at vital times as the Sycamores staged a magnificent but ultimately fruitless fourth quarter comeback. They managed to hold Indiana to just 5 points whilst scoring 14 of their own.

Jess Gajewski set a new career-high for scoring for the second time in a fortnight as the red-shirt sophomore poured in 28 points on 12/24 FG for Grand Canyon in a 76-67 win over North Dakota State. The teams were tied heading into the final quarter, but Grand Canyon managed to just edge away in the final quarter. Gajewski was again among the points in the Lopes’ second game of the week, scoring 10 in a tight game against UC Irvine. Grand Canyon stormed home from 6 points down after three quarters to win the final quarter 23-12 and take home the victory.

Marena Whittle and North Dakota State may have gone down to Gajewski and Grand Canyon this week, but Whittle was solid for the Bison, chipping in with 8 points and 9 rebounds. Whittle put in another solid performance against in-state rival North Dakota, but her 11 points and 6 rebounds were ultimately in vain as North Dakota finished with a 71-54 win. Sammy Roscoe played 16 minutes for North Dakota, finishing with 3 rebounds.

Renae Mokrzycki also grabbed a career-high scoring effort this week, shooting 78% from the field in a 20 point effort, but it unfortunately wasn’t enough as Idaho went down 78-62 to Texas Tech. Mokrzycki, like most of the Idaho team, were far more subdued in the side’s second game of the week as #7 Oregon State took out this contest 69-44, with Idaho being held to five points or less in two of the four quarters. Tayla Corrigan and Geraldine McCorkell also saw playing time for Idaho this week but their impact was limited.

Grace Lennox was perfect from the line, hitting 7/7 on her way to 15 points as Eastern Illinois came agonisingly close to a win over Stetson. Lennox also had 5 rebounds and 6 assists, but the Panthers went cold in the final quarter, shooting just 18% from the field. Stetson came back from 6 points down to win 68-66 with a last second 3 point attempt that would have won the game for Eastern Illinois missing the target.

Jessie Edwards came off the bench for Minnesota in the Golden Gophers' 70-60 win over Memphis, but made her 17 minutes of action count. Edwards scored 11 points on 5/6 shooting, and also collected 6 rebounds as Minnesota used a 17-0 run at the start of the 3rd quarter to overhaul an 8 point Memphis halftime lead and pick up the win.

Pacific knocked off San Jose State 81-69 in their only game of the week, and Emily Simons had a performance to remember. In just 20 minutes of action off the bench, the junior swingman scored 14 points, hitting 7 of 8 from the field to be the side’s second-top scorer as the Tigers’ bench scored 47 of the side’s points. Simons also tacked on 5 rebounds just for good measure. For San Jose State, Ellie Stevens scored 3 points and also contributed 3 assists.

As per usual, Nicole Seekamp churned out points and assists in both games for South Dakota this week. The senior point guard led the Coyotes to an 87-77 win over San Jose State, finishing with 15 points, 11 assists, and 4 steals. Remarkably, Seekamp had 8 points, 5 assists, and 3 steals after just one quarter of this game. On the other side, Ellie Stevens couldn’t manage a point for San Jose State, but did manage to haul in 8 rebounds as the senior forward faced a fellow Australian for the second time in a week.

Seekamp and South Dakota State found it slightly tougher in their second game of the week as they faced Washington, going down 77-64 to the Huskies despite leading until midway through the third quarter. Seekamp again managed 10 points, but shot just 23% from the field, and also picked up 7 rebounds and 4 assists.