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NCAA Women: Delaney explodes, freshmen fire
With many teams taking a week off as final exams take precedence across the nation, the opportunity came for some different faces to make a name for themselves among the Australians. The likes of Anais Kirvan, Lizzy Tonks, and Megan Johnson put up some solid performances, whilst Alex Delaney fired on offence for a massive game for the second time in just a few weeks.
Alex Delaney has come into her own in her junior year at St. Francis, and this week eclipsed her career high in scoring for the second time this season. Coming off a decent 8 point, 4 assist effort in a tight 55-52 loss to Manhattan, Delaney quickly made amends in the Terriers’ 58-52 victory over St. Peter’s. Shooting 8-14 from the field, including 4-8 from three point range, the Sydneysider finished with an impressive 23 points alongside 8 rebounds and 3 assists to lead St. Francis to victory, earning a Northeast Conference Prime Performer award for her efforts.
Ashley Taia continues to lead for Indiana State, tallying a pair of double figure scoring efforts and also having an impact in other facets of the game this week. Shooting 50% from the field, Taia scored 13 points in a tight 70-67 win over Saint Louis that also saw the Australian collect 6 rebounds and dish out 5 assists, also hitting the game-sealing free throws after Saint Louis came within a single point of the lead with less than 10 seconds to play. Unfortunately, another 14 point effort from Taia proved to be in vain against Butler in the Sycamores’ second game of the week as they went down 66-48.
Vanessa Panousis began to find her range a couple of weeks ago and has continued to let the deep ball fly since that time. This week, given free rein to hit the three, the Virginia Tech senior racked up the points in two big wins for the Hokies. Panousis scored 12 points, all from beyond the arc, and also tallied 4 assists and 4 rebounds in an 81-47 demolition of Central Connecticut State. The Sydney Comets product then hit another 4 three pointers on her way to 15 points in a 98-51 mauling of Bowling Green to continue to extend her Virginia Tech career three-point record.
Georgia Pineau has developed into one of the main parts of the Boston College side, averaging over 30 minutes per game. Having put up solid rebound numbers for the season, Pineau this week tallied her second double figure scoring effort in a 71-64 win over Yale. The freshman shot 5-7 from the field to tally 10 points and also added 6 assists in addition to 7 rebounds to keep her rebounding average above the 5 mark for the season to this point. Pineau added another 7 rebounds to an ever-burgeoning total in a 57-53 win over Providence, also scoring 5 points in a low-scoring game where every basket was absolutely cherished.
Lizzy Tonks is one of just two CSU Northridge players to have started every game this season, and this week turned out her fourth double figure scoring effort in her first 10 games of college basketball. Despite turnover troubles, Tonks managed to shot 4-8 from the field to tally 14 points and also dished out a game-high 8 assists as the Matadors managed to hold a steady lead throughout the contest on their way to an 89-78 victory over Weber State.
Anais Kirvan has been used sparingly by Fresno State, but was given a chance this week against NCAA Division II side CSU Dominguez Hills and used the extended minutes to her advantage. In 16 minutes of action, Kirvan shot 5-7 to finish with 10 points for her first double figure scoring effort in Division I, and also pulled down 4 rebounds to provide some excellent spark off the bench in the Bulldogs’ 73-60 win.
Playing in one of the highest scoring teams in the nation certainly gives Courtney Woods plenty of chances to exhibit her outstanding shooting, and she took the opportunity with both hands against Iowa State. Despite the Huskies going down 97-89, the Northern Illinois side were right in the contest for the first half, with Woods connecting on her first 7 shots to finish with 17 points in the team’s only contest of the week.
Saint Mary’s played just the one game this week, and despite going down to UC Davis, Carly Turner and Megan McKay both put in impressive shifts. Chasing the game for large parts, the Gaels needed every one of Carly Turner’s 18 points to stay in touch. The Victorian senior shot 4-7 from three point range, and also registered 8 rebounds and 6 assists for the Gaels. Megan McKay was also impressive for the Gaels, scoring 13 points and pulled down 11 rebounds, including 5 offensive boards as Saint Mary’s established a late lead. However, UC Davis managed a last second basket to clinch a 68-66 win in a heartbreak of a loss for the Gaels.
Down in Texas, Megan Johnson has steadily increased her minutes since the commencement of the season at UTRGV, and whilst the team has been cannon fodder for some big-name opponents, Johnson has been solid at both ends. Despite going down 92-59 to Oklahoma, the Newcastle product was one of four players in double figures for the Vaqueros, shooting 3-8 to tally 11 points, also collecting 8 rebounds in an impressive effort against the #19 ranked Sooners. Johnson was unable to have quite the same impact against Oklahoma State, but still managed 5 points and 6 assists in an 86-53 loss.
Finally, in one of the most unexpected yet spectacular moments of the season, Bianca Thacker proved to be the hero for Idaho State against Abi Curtin and Denver. With just 2 seconds left in the second overtime period of an absolute barnburner, Thacker had shot a dismal 0-3 and been on court for just 9 minutes of the game. However, the freshman was entrusted with potentially the final shot of the game and nailed the corner three to send the Bengals into raptures as the Aussie sealed a 65-64 win.