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NCAA Women: Aussies form a trio of high-flying Pilots for Portland
A scintillating Under 19 World Cup earned Alex Fowler an All-Star Five selection, and that form hasn’t wavered one iota in the freshman’s start to her college career at Portland. Two outstanding performances in as many games has seen the Queenslander help lead the Pilots to two victories as they look to improve on last season’s 13-17 record.
Fowler had chalked up 14 points in 13 minutes against NCAA Division III side Lewis and Clark in a preseason exhibition, but with Portland winning that game 92-30, there were always going to be questions about just how much could be read into that performance. However, the power forward left absolutely no doubt in anyone’s mind with her debut competitive outing against the once Aussie-laden Utah State. Pulling down 8 rebounds in the first half alone, Fowler then stood up when it counted most. After fellow Aussie Steph Gorman put Utah State up 62-61 with a three, Fowler scored six of Portland’s last nine points, finishing with 16 points and 13 rebounds as Portland secured a 70-64 victory.
However, Fowler wasn’t the only Aussie standing tall in the opener. Sophomore point guard Haylee Andrews led Portland with 18 points, and also collected 13 rebounds, no mean feat for a point guard. Keeley Frawley also made her debut for the Pilots in the win, chipping in 5 points and 3 boards.
The Aussie trio certainly built some momentum in the opener, and demonstrated as much in a dominant 78-59 victory over Weber State. Portland gradually built their lead throughout the contest, taking a 13-point lead into halftime before consolidating that advantage as the second half progressed. Andrews finished the game with a career-high 28 points, shooting 10 of 12 from the field after hitting her first 7 shots, whilst Fowler was solid once again. Although foul trouble limited the freshman to 14 minutes, the power forward put up 14 points, 3 rebounds, and a pair of steals to provide solid impact. Frawley was impressive on the boards, leading the Pilots with seven rebounds alongside 3 points and 4 assists in 20 minutes in a solid all-round performance.
Unsurprisingly, Andrews was deservedly named West Coast Conference Player of the Week for her performances across the week. Averaging 23 points and 8.5 rebounds over the two games, the sophomore shot 66% from the field and 80% at the line in leading the Pilots to a perfect start to the season.
Whilst Steph Gorman was on the losing side against Portland despite putting up 12 points for Utah State, the lone remaining Australian Aggie following a slew of transfers hit back in memorable fashion against another team featuring three Aussies. The sophomore poured in 28 points against a Seattle side featuring Courtney Murphy, Georgia Kehoe, and Maddy Phillips, burying 5 of 9 from beyond the arc. The sharpshooting guard also collected 6 rebounds and 3 steals as Utah State bounced back from their defeat to Portland, eking out a 70-63 victory.
It had already been a week of outstanding comebacks, particularly from Chloe Bibby, Lou Brown, and Courtney Woods, and Sara Anastasieska added to that list with a scintillating performance against the storied UConn program. Injury had kept Anastasieska out since January 2018, with a back injury keeping the UTSA transfer out for the entirety of last season. Having chipped in 7 points against Harvard, the senior came out firing against college basketball’s most famous program, draining 5 of 10 from beyond the arc on her way to a career-high 25 points. Whilst it was not quite enough to get California the victory as the Golden Bears fell to a 72-61 defeat, it was hopefully a sign of things to come as the senior looks to make up for lost time with a massive final year.
However, perhaps the most memorable event of the week was Oregon’s win over the US National Team as Jazmin Shelley, Lucy Cochrane, and Morgan Yaeger became part of one of the biggest boilovers in women’s basketball history. Trailing 42-38 at halftime, Oregon made their run in the second half to secure a 93-86 win. All three Aussies hit the court for the Ducks, with Yaeger tallying the only points and Shelley grabbing three boards.
Those were hardly the only performances worthy of mention over the weekend, as a number of Aussies impressed for their respective teams.
Alex Sharp tallied 21 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists for Wake Forest against UNC Greensboro as the senior continues to lead for the Demon Deacons. Unfortunately, that didn’t translate to a result as UNC Greensboro snuck home 67-65 in a thriller.
Jade Johnson put up 20 points for the second time in as many games, knocking down 3 of 6 from beyond the arc even as St. Francis fell to a 92-71 loss to Marquette. The senior followed that up with 17 points against Boston College, but the Terriers fell 106-69. Georgia Pineau was solid for the Eagles, tallying 9 points and 10 rebounds.
Courtney Woods dropped 20 once again, getting to the line with regularity as Northern Illinois defeated North Dakota State. Woods hit 11 of 12 free throws, and collected 6 rebounds as the Huskies secured a 74-68 victory.
Jess McDowell-White came agonisingly close to a double-double in Eastern Washington’s 84-66 loss to San Jose State. The sophomore shot 4 of 9 from deep on her way to 16 points, and also tallied 9 rebounds and 4 assists. Fellow Aussie Brittany Klaman chipped in 6 points and 3 assists.
Courtney Murphy picked up where she left off for Seattle, connecting on 4 of 7 field goals and a perfect 5 of 5 at the line on her way to 15 points in Seattle’s 91-81 win over Saint Martin’s. Georgia Kehoe also made her long-awaited debut, chipping in 4 points and 4 rebounds. Freshman Maddy Phillips also debuted for Seattle with a brief one-minute cameo.
Emily Fisher put together a potential breakout performance for American even as her side went down 81-69 to Ohio. Despite the result, the sophomore finished an outstanding evening with 15 points, 8 assists, and 3 rebounds, matching her career high for scoring and setting a new career mark for assists.
UCLA junior Chantel Horvat made a much-anticipated return for the Bruins, giving herself a base from which to build with a solid performance in a 74-52 win over Loyola Marymount. Despite foul trouble, the athletic wing produced 8 points and 8 rebounds in an encouraging return to the court.