Alicia Froling was the true star among the Australians this week with a statistically phenomenal performance against North Texas, but there were several other Australians who produced vital efforts too. They included Olivia West, Ashley Taia and Stephanie Reid as teams scraped their ways home to vital early season wins.
An outstanding 5x5 performance from Alicia Froling was the undoubted highlight of the week among the Aussies, and it was just one of three noteworthy performances from the Southern Methodist junior.
Coming up against local rivals North Texas, Froling proved herself to be a cut above in producing a sublime all-round performance. The Queenslander shot 6-10 from the field and also earned 12 free throws, converting 11. Add to this 10 rebounds, 6 assists, 5 blocks, and 5 steals in the Mustangs’ 65-51 win and there is no question that this was one of the best performances of this young season.
Things didn’t quite go to plan for SMU in their second game of the week, away to New Mexico, but Froling was able to add 12 points on 5-8 shooting and 7 assists in the Mustangs’ 64-49 defeat. The Mustangs bounced back in the best way possible though, against #19 Texas A&M. Given little chance of victory, the Mustangs went in at halftime up 29-13 and managed to hold on by the skin of their teeth to eke out a 54-53 win in a massive upset. Froling was again instrumental, scoring 8 points and pulling down a team-high 11 rebounds. Steph Collins was also afforded her first real opportunity of the season to this point, and responded with 4 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 blocks in 22 minutes of action as the Mustangs remain undefeated on their home floor.
Rachel Brewster also had a week to remember as the sophomore earned a career-high in a win over Idaho State. In a much-needed performance, Brewster shot 9-17 to finish with 22 points and also collected 4 rebounds as the Aggies rode a 26-15 final quarter to a 69-56 win in a game that was much closer than it probably should have been for the first 30 minutes. That fourth quarter explosion came courtesy of Australian freshman Olivia West, who knocked down four three-pointers in the final term on her way to a crucial 15 points in just 18 minutes of action. Shannon Dufficy and Eliza West also played excellent supporting roles. Dufficy scored 6 points and pulled down 8 rebounds, whilst Eliza West was responsible for 7 assists as the Australians proved to be the catalysts for victory.
A win proved far more elusive on the road at Utah. Whilst Brewster and Dufficy both finished in double figures, Brewster fouled out in the third quarter after the Utah State coach was almost forced to leave her in on four fouls if the team was to stand any chance of winning. Eliza West added 8 points of her own, but Utah ran out 65-58 victors to remain unbeaten and see the Aggies drop to 6-2.
Ashley Taia was in a scoring mood throughout this week, and the junior’s hot shooting led the Sycamores to a pair of wins in their three games this week. Taia opened the week with an outstanding 8-10 shooting performance which garnered 19 points in an 88-61 win over Eastern Illinois. Unfortunately, that was followed up by a game in which Indiana State could only manage to reach double figures in one-quarter in a 45-35 defeat to IUPUI. Taia and the Sycamores bounced back against Miami University of Ohio, with the Australian dropping 23 points on the RedHawks and collecting 7 rebounds in a 62-54 win.
It had been an unusually slow start to the season for Vanessa Panousis, but that all changed this week as the senior unleashed on Nebraska. Shooting 6-14 from the field, including 4-10 from beyond the arc, the senior finished with 17 points and 4 assists as Virginia Tech eased to a 76-67 win. The point guard followed that performance up with another 14 point effort against Gardner-Webb in a slightly less stressful affair as the Hokies romped home 76-42. Virginia Tech also broke into the Top 25 this week courtesy of the win over Nebraska.
Stephanie Reid continues to be the leader for Buffalo, with another vital performance ensuring the Bulls snagged another tight win. Shooting 3-6 for 10 points and tallying 7 assists, Reid was instrumental in Buffalo’s 66-65 win over UCF as the Bulls held on against their opponents' 36 point final quarter. Reid then took on more of the scoring burden in the team’s 74-50 demolition of Hofstra, hitting 7 of 11 from the field to register 16 points alongside 4 assists and 3 steals.
In Northern California, it was a case of the Aussies sharing the spotlight for Saint Mary’s as first Carly Turner and then Megan McKay had outstanding performances on the Gaels’ two game in-state road trip. Travelling to San Luis Obispo to face Cal Poly, Carly Turner shot a perfect 3 of 3 from the field, all of which came from beyond the arc, on her way to 11 points and 5 rebounds in the Gaels’ 79-71 win. McKay would then produce one of the performances of the week in an 85-64 demolition of San Jose State, connecting on 9 of 11 attempts from the field to finish with 21 points in 24 minutes of action. Freshman Jasmine Forcadilla more than ably played a supporting role in both games, tallying 6 points against Cal Poly before delivering a highly impressive 7 assists against San Jose State.
Jess Gajewski has had a solid if unspectacular start to the season for Grand Canyon, but this week brought two excellent scoring efforts from the redshirt junior. The Antelopes were almost expected to be lambs to the slaughter against 2016 Final Four team Washington, but Gajewski performed admirably in the 101-66 loss. The Queenslander shot a respectable 3 of 8 from beyond the arc on her way to 15 points as Grand Canyon hung with Washington for the first half before being overrun in the second. However, Grand Canyon well and truly took their frustrations out on Florida Atlantic in their second game of the week. A 39-21 first half allowed the Antelopes to cruise to an 81-60 win, with Gajewski again scoring 15 points but this time shooting a far healthier 3 of 6 from three-point range in the comprehensive victory.
Minnesota have been rebuilding slightly this season since the departure of the likes of Rachel Banham, but Jessie Edwards is helping to ensure that things go as smoothly as possible. Whilst defeating Florida State may have been just out of reach for the Golden Gophers as they went down 75-61, Edwards was able to tally 8 points and 11 rebounds in what was merely a precursor to her performance in the team’s second game of the week.
As the Gophers’ offence exploded in a 111-91 win over Detroit Mercy, so did Edwards’ stats in a highly efficient performance to end the week. In 27 minutes of playing time, Edwards shot a remarkable 6 of 7 from the field and a perfect 3 of 3 from the line to end with 15 points. The Western Australian also pulled down an impressive 12 rebounds to finish with a double-double, and even tacked on two blocks for good measure.