It was certainly a week to remember, especially on the scoring front, for the Australian women in college basketball.
Courtney Woods dropped a vital 39 points in a thriller against Kent State to match her career high, but the biggest highlight was Tiana Mangakahia continuing her sensational start to the season with a 44 point performance against Georgia Tech that etched the sophomore's name into Syracuse basketball history.
Tiana Mangakahia continued to act as a dominant force for Syracuse, starting 2018 in even better form than she ended 2017, something that barely seemed possible until it happened. Facing #2 Notre Dame in their first game after Christmas, Mangakahia kept the Orange right in the hunt, tallying 26 points on 10 of 21 shooting, as well as 9 rebounds, 8 assists, and 2 steals to be the first Syracuse player to lead the team in all four categories in a game since 2006. However, Notre Dame pulled away in the fourth quarter for an 87-72 victory. Mangakahia followed up that performance with another 20 points and 8 assists in a 68-63 loss to Virginia, but the best was yet to come.
Dominating in all facets in an 88-77 win over Georgia Tech, Mangakahia registered the second highest points tally for a Syracuse player in a home game, men’s or women’s, in school history, finishing with 44 points including an incredible 20 of 21 free throws alongside 12 of 23 from the field. The sophomore also tallied 8 assists, ending the game either scoring or assisting on almost 75% of the team’s points as Syracuse pulled away in the fourth quarter of what was a tight game despite Mangakahia’s dominant performance.
The Queenslander leads the nation in assists with a staggering 10.2 per game, making her offensive onslaught even more remarkable.
Mangakahia was not the only Queenslander putting up big numbers this week though. Courtney Woods may have had a tough day of it in Northern Illinois’ first game after Christmas, shooting 5 of 17 to finish with just 12 points in a thrilling loss to Miami University, but bounced back in the best way possible against Kent State in an equally thrilling game.
The junior knocked down shots from all over the court, finishing 7 of 10 from beyond the arc to equal her career-high with 39 points, but even so, the Huskies needed all of those points, as Kent State gave them everything they could handle before Northern Illinois were able to eke out an 81-79 win, with Woods scoring the last 8 points for her side. A third one-possession game ensued against Buffalo, with this contest requiring five extra minutes for the Huskies to secure the win. Woods was once again solid, picking up a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds in the 86-84 win, including an and-one midway through the overtime period that trimmed a four-point Buffalo lead back to a single point before Northern Illinois overturned the deficit to secure the narrow win.
Fellow Australian Stephanie Reid was on the other side for that game, chalking up a third consecutive double-digit assist game. Having already chalked up 11 points, 10 assists, and 6 rebounds in an 89-66 victory over Akron, as well as 8 points and 12 assists in a 71-49 demolition of Western Michigan, the Buffalo point guard did everything and more as the Bulls fell agonisingly short of victory against Northern Illinois. Reid tallied a double-double of 14 points and 11 assists, and also tallied 6 steals to once again showcase her talents at both ends of the floor, even in a losing effort. Katherine Ups was also solid for Buffalo. Katherine Ups also had a solid week for the Bulls, tallying 12 points in the win over Akron and another 12, as well as 5 rebounds, against Northern Illinois.
Staying in the northeast, Boston College had their Australian pairing of Taylor Ortlepp and Georgia Pineau to thank for their success in the past week. The sophomores tallied 8 points apiece in the Eagles’ heavy 89-58 loss to Virginia Tech, but both they and the team bounced back in a scintillating win over North Carolina. Ortlepp drained five of seven shots from deep on her way to a career-high 23 points, whilst Pineau added 15 points, 5 rebounds, and an impressive 6 assists as Boston College secured an upset 77-64 win to secure their first conference win of the season.
Geraldine McCorkell continued to be a reliable presence in the frontcourt for Idaho, as Idaho secured two wins from their first four post-Christmas games.
In a solid start to conference play, McCorkell knocked down 5 of 12 from the field on her way to 13 points as the Vandals used a 32-16 third quarter to bounce back from a sluggish start and secure an 80-75 win over North Dakota before facing Northern Colorado in their second game of the week. Converting 9 of 10 free throw attempts, McCorkell tallied 20 points alongside 5 rebounds against the Bears, but the Vandals fell to a 78-72 loss after giving up 30 final quarter points. A slow start for the Vandals severely hampered their chances against Sacramento State, with McCorkell only able to add 4 points and 3 rebounds in a 79-64 loss, but the senior put that performance behind her to put in an outstanding performance against Portland State. Shooting 9 of 14 from the field, McCorkell registered 23 points, and also dished out an impressive 6 assists as well as picking up 7 rebounds as Idaho came up trumps in a track meet that finished 101-90 in the Vandals’ favour. The Vikings’ Australian post Courtney West also featured in that game, dishing out 7 assists alongside 5 points and 5 rebounds as the Aussies on either side each showcased their underrated passing talents.
One player whose passing talents are far from underrated is Kristy Wallace, who despite being afforded a fair chunk of rest in each of Baylor’s games this week, still dished out assists galore as the Lady Bears won each of their first four conference games by no less than 30 points.
The senior averaged in excess of five assists per game across the four contests, culminating in an impressive 11 points, 5 assist performance in an 83-48 smashing of Kansas that also saw Wallace tally six rebounds. Whilst her numbers may not stand out as much as some of her Baylor teammates, Wallace continues to be ever-reliable in directing the team’s offence and continues to be a defensive menace, something that has been her trademark since she first set foot on court for Baylor.
By their own lofty standards, it has been a tough start to the season for Alanna Smith and Stanford, who took a 6-6 record into Pac-12 play. However, with US Under 23 representative Brittany McPhee back from injury, the team appeared more liberated this week, culminating in three wins and impressive performances from Smith.
Especially outstanding was the junior’s performance on the road in their conference opener against #11 UCLA. Smith hit 6 of 12 shots from the field to tally 14 points, whilst also hauling in 13 rebounds and registering three blocks as a 28-19 final quarter secured a 76-65 victory for the Cardinal. The team then travelled across town to face USC, where once again Smith was solid to finish with 13 points and 6 rebounds in a 72-65 victory after a slow start that saw USC take a lead into halftime before Stanford finished strongly to take the win. Things were slightly more comfortable in a 61-46 win over Arizona, with Smith finishing as equal-top scorer for Stanford, tallying 12 points on 50% shooting, as well as 5 rebounds and 4 assists, playing her role as one of the team’s leaders outstandingly.
However, Smith isn’t the only Aussie frontcourt player making waves in Northern California. Saint Mary’s forward Megan McKay continued her outstanding season for the Gaels, leading her team to three victories with more than a hint of assistance from fellow Australian Jasmine Forcadilla.
Despite a 69-57 loss to Loyola Marymount in their first game after Christmas, McKay produced a valiant 12 point, 7 rebound performance in which the Western Australian shot 6 of 8 from the field. Improvement quickly followed from the Gaels though as they put together three wins on the trot. A 57-49 win over BYU started the streak, and although McKay struggled from the field, shooting just 4 of 14, she still managed to tally 13 points and 7 rebounds to be one of the Gaels’ better performed players on the day.
Saint Mary’s then made the short trip from Moraga to Stockton to take on Pacific, in a game where both McKay and Forcadilla would shine when it mattered most. Despite missing two late free throws which would have secured victory for the Gaels, McKay still finished with 16 points and 8 rebounds, whilst Forcadilla performed admirably running the offence, hitting six of eight from the field on her way to an impressive 14 point, 7 assist performance as a last-second put-back from Sydney Raggio off a missed McKay free throw secured a 70-69 win for Saint Mary’s. There were no such nerves against San Diego, though. McKay once again scored well, finishing with 16 points, whilst Forcadilla added 11 points and 4 assists as the Gaels dominated from start to finish, cantering to a 75-53 victory.
Utah State’s Aussie quartet have also banked four games since Christmas, with Shannon Dufficy leading the way despite the Aggies falling to a 1-3 start in conference play.
The sophomore opened conference play with 10 points and 5 rebounds in a 79-66 loss to San Jose State, with Eliza West also notching 12 points and 5 assists in the defeat. Dufficy was then dominant on the boards in the side’s only conference win to this point, registering 13 rebounds alongside five points in a 62-58 win over San Diego State. Looking to put together back-to-back wins for the first time this season against Fresno State, Olivia West was the best performed of the four Australians with 12 points on 5 of 9 shooting, but the Aggies fell to an agonising 57-56 loss. However, he finest performance of the week belonged to Dufficy, albeit in another loss, this time to UNLV as the Aggies fell 63-54. Despite the result, the sophomore shot well from all over the court, hitting 3 of 6 from beyond the arc in a 21 point, 8 rebound effort that matched her career scoring high and provided a bright spot in what was a difficult week for the team.
Given an opportunity to perform earlier in the season, Rebekah Hatchard has certainly taking her chance with both hands, finishing the week with three double-figure scoring efforts as Montana State opened conference play 2-2. An efficient 6 of 8 shooting night first up after Christmas proved vital for the Bobcats as the senior finished with 16 points, including four threes, in a 91-71 win over Southern Utah. Hatchard followed that performance up with 11 points in an 81-39 demolition of Northern Arizona, before topping both efforts with 17 points against North Dakota in the team’s final game of the week, shooting 70% from the field in the process. Sadly, despite Hatchard’s best efforts, the Bobcats were unable to secure the victory, going down 79-70.
Alex Sharp and Wake Forest haven’t had quite such a packed schedule, playing just the two games since the holiday break, but that hasn’t stopped the sophomore from continuing to impress. Sharp was especially impressive on the boards against a Notre Dame side currently ranked second in the country, picking up 12 rebounds alongside 4 points in a 96-73 loss despite facing up to one of the country’s best frontcourt players in Jessica Shepard. However, Sharp was able to showcase more of her skillset in a 58-49 victory over Pittsburgh. This time, it was her scoring ability that shone through, shooting 60% from the field to tally 13 points. Interestingly, outside of Sharp’s 6 of 10 night, the Demon Deacons shot just 30% from the field, making Sharp’s efficiency all the more vital in a tight contest that required a 23-10 final quarter from Wake Forest to secure the win. Sharp also tallied 5 rebounds and dished out 3 assists as the sophomore continues to deliver in all areas for her team.
Sharp wasn’t the only North-Carolina based Aussie to enjoy solid outings this week, though. Appalachian State’s Nicola Mathews was among the Mountaineers’ best-performed players on their recent trip to Louisiana to face a pair of opponents. Despite falling 61-45 to Louisiana-Lafayette after a disastrous 20-2 final term, Mathews enjoyed an efficient shooting night, hitting 4 of 5 from the field on her way to a team-high 10 points. However, things quickly turned around against Louisiana-Monroe. Hitting a career-high five threes, Mathews tied her career high in scoring to finish with 17 points on 6 of 9 shooting, helping the Mountaineers to a first conference win for the season, edging home by a 71-67 margin despite almost allowing their opponents to erase a 17 point lead in the fourth quarter.
It’s been a tough season at times for Lauren Calver, who has been forced to play as an undersized post player at times for Houston Baptist, but the sophomore thrived against New Orleans despite her team falling to a 70-52 loss. An impressive 9 of 15 shooting night delivered a career high 19 points alongside five rebounds, but unfortunately the Huskies were unable to recover from a 21-10 first quarter deficit as New Orleans ran away with the game in the second half.
Finally, we head to South Dakota, where Jasmine Trimboli has once again put up an outstanding performance to lead the Coyotes to victory. The South Australian eased into the week with a solid 9 point, 7 rebound performance in a win over North Dakota State, but that was merely an entree. Western Illinois copped the full brunt of the main course in the Coyotes’ 82-58 demolition job, with Trimboli hitting a highly impressive 8 of 11 from the field to tally 19 points. With 9 rebounds and 5 steals alongside that excellent scoring performance, it was certainly a game to remember for the redshirt junior.