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NCAA Women: McCorkell and Delaney hit career highs
It was quite the week for Australian women in college as a pair of upperclassmen produced career highs in scoring, whilst we also saw a number of freshmen come out of their shells to turn out the first big performances of their college careers. Meanwhile, the likes of Rachel Brewster and Alicia Froling continue to produce for their teams at astounding rates.
Geraldine McCorkell was the undoubted star of the week as the senior forward put up career numbers for Idaho in a nail biting victory over Cal State Fullerton, earning Big Sky Player of the Week honours in the process.
Shooting 13-25 from the field, McCorkell finished with 30 points for the first time in her career as the reigning Big Sky champions were almost chased down in the final term. Leading by 7 after 3 quarters, Idaho gave up their lead with 1:43 to play, but kicked again as McCorkell scored five consecutive points for the Vandals to secure an 88-86 victory in the team’s only game of the week.
Alex Delaney was also in record-breaking form, eclipsing her own career high as St. Francis picked up a rare win against former conference foe Monmouth.
Sitting at a dismal 5-52 in the all-time series between these two teams, St. Francis atoned for last season’s loss to the Hawks with an outstanding shooting performance, connecting on 48% of their field goal attempts in an 87-78 win. Delaney led all scorers with 19 points, shooting 4-7 from the field as well as 8-10 from the line. The junior also added 6 assists and 6 rebounds, whilst Australian freshman Jade Johnson also reached double figures, tallying 12 points in just 11 minutes of play. The Terriers came back to Earth slightly with a tight 69-60 loss to Loyola Maryland in their second game of the week, but will have drawn plenty of confidence from the win over Monmouth.
Courtney Woods’ development into a vital cog for Northern Illinois continued this week with a pair of double-figure scoring efforts. Despite being overshadowed slightly by Ally Lehman’s 48 points and 21 rebounds, Woods put up 15 vital points, shooting 5-14 as the Huskies required double overtime to get past Wisconsin-Milwaukee, winning 114-104. The result may not have gone Northern Illinois’ way in their second game of the week, going down 83-79 to in-state rivals Western Illinois, but Woods put up 20 points to hit that milestone for the second time in three games this season and the fifth time in her career.
Houston Baptist were the unfortunate recipients of a pair of drubbings this week, but through it all freshman Lauren Calver gave the fans something to cheer about. Despite going down 98-46 to #8 Texas, Calver was able to put up 11 points in the first double-figure scoring effort of her career. The Illawarra junior followed that up with an even better performance against Rice. Once again the Huskies went down heavily, 79-53, but Calver shot a solid 6-12 from the field and collected 13 points to end the weekend on a personal high, even if the results were tough to take for the team.
Alicia Froling continued her outstanding start to the season, moving to three double-doubles from three games as SMU split a pair of games against Big 12 opponents. In a 75-63 win over Kansas, Froling had an outstanding all-round game, finishing with 16 points and 10 rebounds, as well as tallying 4 assists, 3 blocks, and 2 steals. Froling had an exceptionally blistering first half, putting up 13 points and 8 rebounds in the opening 20 minutes as Southern Methodist jumped out to an early double-figure lead and held that margin throughout.
The Queenslander put in an even stronger performance in the Mustangs’ second game of the week against TCU, but her efforts were unfortunately in vain. Froling put up 20 points on 8-12 shooting, and reeled in another 12 rebounds for her third consecutive double-double to start the season. However, TCU destroyed Southern Methodist from beyond the arc, shooting 15-25 from 3 point range to secure a 76-67 victory.
Rachel Brewster has become the leader of the Utah State offence since fellow Australian Funda Nakkasoglu’s departure, and the sophomore has taken on the role with aplomb. In a generally controlled team performance against Montana State, Brewster led Utah State to a 64-56 victory with 18 points. Brewster was ably assisted by fellow Australian Shannon Dufficy, who added 7 points and 14 rebounds in the win, whilst Eliza West also added 8 points and 3 assists. Brewster again led from the front against UC Irvine to make it two wins from two for the Aggies, pouring in another 16 points and collecting 5 rebounds, with Olivia West playing the supporting role amongst the Australians with 6 points in Utah State's 66-52 win.
Boston College’s Georgia Pineau eased her way into college basketball last week, but that all changed this week as the freshman exploded against Seton Hall. Despite going down 71-66 to the Big East side, Pineau showed that she is deserving of her spot in the Eagles’ starting lineup with an outstanding performance. Shooting 7-16 from the field, Pineau led all scorers with 18 points, and also notched eight assists and seven rebounds in the tight loss which saw Boston College drop to 1-2 for the season.
Boston College would then face Saint Mary’s in a game that saw a combined five Aussies on the two rosters, but Megan McKay would be the only one to have a big game. Coming off a 14 point, 7 rebound performance in the Gaels’ 77-53 demolition of Northeastern, the Western Australian scored 10 points and collected 6 rebounds as Saint Mary’s came away with the 62-54 victory to collect two wins from their trip to Massachusetts.
Claire Ioannidis struggled early in the week but managed to turn things right around by North Florida’s third game of the week to help lead the Ospreys to a double overtime win. The senior shot just 3-14 in a heavy 78-42 loss to South Florida, but managed to collect 10 points in the defeat. This was followed by an 11 point performance in 22 minutes of action in a 103-57 win over NAIA school Webber International as minutes were shared amongst the entire Ospreys roster. Despite some poor shooting by her own lofty standards, Ioannidis was clearly able to put those performances behind her. Ioannidis shot a perfect 10-10 from the line and scored 9 of her 20 points in the two overtime periods against Florida Atlantic to hand the Ospreys a much needed 95-88 victory to improve the team’s record to 3-1 for the season.
It was a tough week for Eastern Illinois, but Grace Lennox ensured that the Panthers earned one victory from a tough stretch of three games in six days which included trips to Indiana and Florida to play Evansville and Stetson respectively. It was against Evansville that Lennox had her best performance of the season to date, knocking down 7-16 from the field and 8-11 from the line to finish with 22 points in the Panthers’ 73-63 win.
Courtney West has had to wait a long time for her chance with Portland State after sitting out a year following her transfer from Southern Oregon. This week, the sophomore took that chance with both hands with an outstanding performance. Facing NAIA school Pacific Union College, West finished as the Vikings’ second-top scorer with 16 points and also grabbed 8 rebounds in a 93-61 drubbing as Portland State earned their first win of the season.
It took until February for Norfolk State to get their first win last season, but Kiara Phillips ensured that the first win of this campaign would come a lot earlier. Phillips top scored for the Spartans in their 99-59 dismantling of Division II side St. Augustine's, finishing the game with 18 points and 6 rebounds in the comprehensive victory.
Finally, it was a record-breaking week for Vanessa Panousis as the senior guard broke the Virginia Tech career three-pointers record when she hit the 201st trey of her college career in the Hokies’ 67-36 demolition of Presbyterian. Panousis already holds the team’s single-season record with 77 in her sophomore year, and also sits third in the team’s single-game list with six in a win over George Mason in November 2015.