NCAA Women: Ioannidis and Whittle lead the way

The Australians were back among the awards, earning some Australia Day Honours of a different type, as Tuesday saw Claire Ioannidis pick up the Atlantic Sun Newcomer of the Week, whilst Marena Whittle was awarded the Summit League Player of the Week after two double-doubles boosted her tally to ten for the season.

Claire Ioannidis earned the Atlantic Sun Newcomer of the Week award, and with good reason, as the junior guard averaged 20.5 points per game in leading North Florida to a pair of victories. Ioannidis tallied 16 points in a 78-70 win over Lipscomb that was slightly easier than the scoreline suggested, and also contributed 8 assists. Ioannidis’ best performance of the week came against NJIT in a 68-51 win. The Victorian led all scorers with 25 points on 8/14 field goal shooting, including 6/10 from beyond the arc, and also chalked up 4 assists as the Ospreys left a six game losing streak in the rearview mirror with two wins from two. Unfortunately, they could not add to this winning streak against USC Upstate, going down 69-54. Ioannidis once again performed admirably, with another high-scoring effort of 16 points.

Marena Whittle delivered another two excellent performances, but North Dakota State were forced to settle for a solitary win from their two games this week. Whittle notched up 16 points on 6/13 field goal shooting and also collected 14 rebounds in the Bison’s 94-82 loss to Western Illinois, but even a performance like that was positively pedestrian in comparison to what was coming against IPFW. In a game that stayed close until North Dakota State finally pulled away late, Whittle shot 11/18 from the field on her way to a mind-boggling performance that delivered 33 points, 18 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 blocks as the Bison got up 94-85. With performances like these, it is hardly a surprise that the senior was named Summit League Player of the Week.

Stephanie Reid continued her good individual form, yet Buffalo stumbled once again, falling to two losses. In a 92-78 loss to Western Michigan, Reid led Buffalo with 25 points, and did so at a good clip, shooting 9/15 from the field and 5/7 from the charity stripe. Reid was also a menace at the defensive end, picking up a remarkable 5 steals, but Western Michigan’s hot shooting (56.9% from the field) was just too much to handle. Reid was then a perfect 7/7 from the line against Miami (Ohio) and finished with 17 points, but Buffalo shot just 26% for the game as they went down 69-58 to the Redhawks, with only some excellent free throw shooting by Buffalo keeping the game that close.

South Dakota hosted the Summit League’s Indiana schools this week, and Nicole Seekamp and Jasmine Trimboli helped ensure neither would leave with a win as both Australians contributed at both ends for the Coyotes. In a 32 point drubbing of IPFW, Seekamp notched up 19 points and also added 5 assists, whilst Trimboli chipped in a solid all-round performance, finishing with 8 points, 5 assists and 5 rebounds as South Dakota cruised to a 92-60 victory. IUPUI brought a far tougher challenge, and actually led 28-23 at halftime, but the Aussies came to the fore again as South Dakota ran over the top of the visitors for a 65-59 win. Seekamp shot a perfect 8/8 from the charity stripe on her way to a game-high 24 points and also added 5 assists and 5 steals. Trimboli was the Coyotes’ second-top scorer behind Seekamp with 9 points and also pulled down 5 rebounds.

Funda Nakkasoglu had an oddly quiet game against UNLV earlier in the week, but cut loose in Utah State’s second game of the week as order was restored. In a low-scoring 46-38 loss, Nakkasoglu still managed double figures, finishing with 10 points, including a perfect 6/6 from the line. The sophomore point guard is never far away from a high-scoring game though, and San Diego State found that out the hard way. Nakkasoglu connected on 10/16 from the field on her way to 28 points, whilst Rachel Brewster was the Aggies’ second-top scorer with 14 points as Utah State got back to winning ways with a 72-59 victory over the Aztecs.

Once again, an Australian was at the forefront of Saint Mary’s good performances this week, but this time it was freshman Megan McKay who came up with the top all-round effort across the two games. Lauren Nicholson was the undoubted star for the Gaels in their first game of the week, pouring in 25 points on 8/12 shooting from the field and 8/9 free throws as Saint Mary’s got home in a nail-biter against Gonzaga. Down 68-67 with under 30 seconds to play, Nicholson drove to the basket, drew a little bit of contact, and rode it as she managed to get her shot to win, completing a 7 point comeback during which Gonzaga failed to score a point for the last 3:43 of the contest. McKay added 10 points, and Carly Turner chipped in 4 points and 6 rebounds, whilst Georgia Stirton finished with 5 points and 3 assists for Gonzaga. The Gaels had a far easier time of it as they travelled to Portland for their second game of the week, cruising to a 78-51 victory. McKay dropped in another 13 points and collected 7 rebounds, whilst Turner also had 13 points and 6 rebounds of her own.

It was a tough week for Southern Methodist, but Alicia Froling could only be proud of her performances despite the Mustangs falling to two losses. Froling added yet another double-double to her ever-increasing season tally, with 10 points and an astounding 14 rebounds in the Mustangs’ 54-42 loss to Tulane. The Mustangs then became Connecticut’s latest victim in their quest for a fourth straight national title as the Huskies cruised to a 90-37 victory. However, Froling was able to make at least some impact on the game, notching 12 points and also collecting 7 rebounds to yet again show that she is on her way to becoming one of the top forwards in the American Athletic Conference.

Geraldine McCorkell continued her scintillating form of recent weeks with another pair of solid efforts despite Idaho splitting their games this week. Alongside Renae Mokrzycki, who notched up 10 points and 7 rebounds, McCorkell scored 16 points of her own as the Vandals cruised to a 17 point victory, 78-61. Montana State proved to be a far tougher challenge, but the Aussie pair were again up for the fight. McCorkell once again poured in the points, finishing with 15, whilst Mokrzycki had another solid all-round game, notching 8 points and 8 rebounds, but Montana State scored the last 5 points of the game to steal the win from Idaho, 62-59.