NCAA Women: Courtney West stands tall for Portland State

A week that saw a few teams break some losing streaks that were threatening to derail their seasons also saw Australians stand up at the most important times. Chief among these were Alicia Froling, Stephanie Reid, and Grace Lennox, but there were outstanding performances even in teams that weren't able to win both games this week.

In a week that saw Portland State split their Montana road trip, Courtney West stood taller than most, both literally and figuratively. Using her height to her advantage, the Sutherland product shot 9-12 from the field on her way to 18 points, whilst also collecting 13 rebounds against Montana. West also swatted away four shots as Portland State cruised to a 64-44 win. The sophomore then registered a second double-double of the week against Montana State. Finishing with 18 points again, this time on 9-14 shooting, West also pulled down 9 rebounds in a second outstanding effort of the week. However, Montana State proved too good down the stretch, edging the Vikings by a scoreline of 83-76.

Stephanie Reid played the role of both scorer and provider to help lead Buffalo to a pair of wins and extend their winning streak to three after losing their opening three conference games. Against a Bowling Green team hungry for just their second win in conference play, Reid helped put paid to that, shooting 5-11 on her way to a 14 point, 4 assist effort as the Bulls edged to a 61-50 win on the back of an outstanding effort.

Reid’s shooting let her down slightly in the team’s second game of the week, against Central Michigan. However, despite scoring all three of her points from the charity stripe, Reid was still able to have an impact. The Victorian dished out 12 assists, more than the entire Central Michigan team, as Buffalo held their opponents to just 9 points in the final term to ease their way to a 67-56 victory and get their season right back on track.

Following a four game losing streak, Eastern Illinois returned to winning ways this week as Grace Lennox continued her recent scoring spree. It may have taken 20 field goal attempts for Lennox to reach 19 points against Tennessee-Martin, but whilst her scoring efficiency dropped, the Tasmanian made up for it in other ways. Lennox reeled in 9 rebounds, and also chipped in 5 assists and 3 steals as the Panthers stormed back in the fourth quarter to force overtime before winning the extra period 12-2 to secure an 80-70 win.

Things were slightly more straight-forward against Southeast Missouri State as Eastern Illinois led for the entire second half on their way to a 71-62 win. Lennox again impressed, this time shooting a rather more efficient 6-13 from the field and 6-8 from the line on her way to 18 points. Again, Lennox contributed in other ways, with 5 assists and 4 steals also highlights as the Panthers enjoyed a successful week.

Minnesota split a tough pair of games, with Jessie Edwards’ rebounding prowess to thank for the team standing even a remote chance of picking up two wins. Whilst the Western Australian may not have put the ball in the basket as often as others, her relentlessness on the boards was of paramount importance. Edwards pulled down 8 rebounds to go with 9 points in a 78-50 dismantling of Illinois, but was even better in the Gophers’ loss to Iowa. Despite scoring just 4 points, Edwards collected a game-high 14 boards as Minnesota went into the final quarter just six points down before succumbing 80-65 to the Hawkeyes.

Like Edwards, Megan McKay is known for being an outstanding rebounder, and the sophomore proved as much once again as Saint Mary’s bounced back from last week’s loss to Gonzaga with two wins. Afforded just 5 field goal attempts in a 63-54 win over Pacific, McKay finished with 6 points but pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds as the Gaels’ out-rebounded their opponents 44-29 in the win. Carly Turner also contributed, notching 7 points and 3 assists as the junior continues to bloom as a leader for Saint Mary’s.

An 81-60 win over Pepperdine then saw all three Australians on the Gaels’ roster make significant contributions. McKay was again in fine form, shooting 6-10 on her way to 12 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 steals in just 24 minutes of play. Carly Turner almost joined McKay in double figures with 9 points, all coming on 3-7 three-point shooting, whilst also reeling in 5 rebounds. Jasmine Forcadilla also hit a pair of three pointers of her own to tally 6 points in 17 minutes of play.

Whilst Southern Methodist may only have been able to win one of their two games this week, Alicia Froling continued her remarkable season with another two double-doubles. Down by 12 with a quarter to go against Cincinnati, the Mustangs were able to win the final quarter 25-15, but fell just short in a 67-65 loss. Froling was a menace on the boards, finishing with a team-high 11 rebounds to go with 13 points which came from 4-7 shooting from the floor and 5-6 from the charity stripe.

Although their final quarter charge did not bring about a win, the Mustangs rode that momentum and confidence into their game against Houston on Sunday afternoon. In a 66-45 dismantling of the Cougars, Froling was exemplary. The junior’s shooting was again efficient, hitting 9 of 14 from the floor to notch 20 points, whilst 13 rebounds was good enough for the game-high. Froling’s performances this week took her to 13 double-doubles for the season, good enough for fifth in the country and just one shy of her total for last season.

After some excellent form throughout the early stages of the season, Northern Illinois came hurtling back to Earth in their first match this week against Akron, but rebounded quickly to finish the week with one win and one loss. Courtney Woods was able to reach double figures against Akron, finishing with 11 points on 4-12 shooting, but it was a tough night for the Huskies as their opponents turned a seven point halftime lead into a 29 point demolition, running out 84-55 victors. Fortunately, both Woods and the rest of the Huskies had a better time of it against Miami of Ohio. Northern Illinois won the first three-quarters to hold a 20 point lead with 10 minutes to play, and despite giving up 29 points in the final term, still cruised to an 89-76 win. Woods was one of two Huskies to complete a double-double in the rout, shooting 6-18 on her way to 21 points and also collecting 11 rebounds and 3 steals in yet another outstanding performance.