Whilst many of the usual suspects turned in some outstanding performances, a slightly unexpected name put everyone in the shade as Courtney Murphy continues to make up for lost time in her freshman season in Seattle. Murphy was one of a number of freshmen to shine this week, as Haylee Andrews continues to perform for Portland and Callie Bourne strengthens her grip on a starting spot for Idaho State.
In what has been a wretched season to this point for Seattle, freshman Courtney Murphy provided the undoubted highlight for the Redhawks in leading her team to their first win of 2018/19, a 90-54 demolition of Chicago State, after opening the game on a 27-0 run and never looking back.
Murphy was electric throughout the evening, dropping 23 points in the first half on her way to a total of 33, setting the program’s Division I scoring record in just her sixth game for the team after missing the first 12 games of the season through injury. The freshman connected on 5 of 9 from beyond the arc as well as 8 of 11 at the charity stripe, whilst also collecting a team-high 8 rebounds in a simply scintillating performance that will give the Redhawks faithful plenty of hope for the future. Murphy followed that performance up with another double-figure scoring effort against UMKC, tallying 10 points and 5 rebounds, but the Redhawks fell to a heavy 86-62 defeat to a Kangaroos side ironically not featuring any Australians.
Shannon Dufficy had an Australia Day to remember on a personal level, even if Utah State fell to 68-64 loss to New Mexico in a nail-biter. All five Australians started for the Aggies as Steph Gorman entered the lineup alongside the four usual Australian starters in Dufficy, Eliza West, Olivia West, and Rachel Brewster, and between them the quintet scored all bar 8 of the Aggies’ points. Dufficy dropped a career-high 26 points on 50% shooting from the field, whilst also collecting 10 rebounds for a program-record eighth consecutive double-double and adding 4 steals and 3 assists. Olivia West added 10 points, whilst Brewster tallied 9 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists. Gorman tallied 7 points, and Eliza West moved into second place in program history for assists after notching 7 for the game alongside 4 points and 4 assists. However, it was the Aussie on the other side, Ahlise Hurst, who picked up the victory after tallying 13 points to help the Lobos to a thrilling victory in a game that was tied at 62-62 with just a minute to play before New Mexico escaped with the victory.
Tia Hay continues to keep Santa Clara at or above .500, with another solid effort which proved vital in getting the Broncos over the line in a 72-66 comeback win over Haylee Andrews and Portland. The junior scored 12 of her 22 points in the final term as the Broncos rallied from 51-40 down to break off a 32-15 fourth quarter and just barely secure the victory in what was still a 2-point game with 15 seconds to play. Hay would then ice the game with a pair of free throws just nine seconds from the final buzzer.
Alongside 22 points, Hay also tallied 5 assists in an electric all-round offensive performance, particularly in the final term, whilst Andrews tallied 12 points and 4 assists in 28 minutes for the valiant Pilots. Unfortunately, the Broncos couldn’t make it two wins in a row as they faced nationally-ranked Gonzaga on Australia Day, with Hay tallying 15 points and 3 assists in a 78-61 defeat to the now 19-2 Bulldogs.
Whilst Haylee Andrews may not have got the win earlier in the week against Hay and Santa Clara, the freshman was close to her best in helping Portland sneak by San Francisco, rallying in the final quarter to secure a 78-73 victory. Andrews scored 11 of her 19 points after halftime, shooting 6 of 11 from the field and 7 of 12 at the line, whilst also dishing 5 assists and collecting 6 rebounds as the Pilots regrouped after giving up 32 points in the second quarter to rebound from a 10-point halftime deficit and move to 10-10 with the win.
Alanna Smith continues to play a starring role for Stanford, even as the Cardinal fell to an upset loss to a dangerous Utah side this week. However prior to that loss, Stanford dispatched of Colorado, running out 80-69 victors despite trailing 36-28. Like most of the Cardinal players, Smith took some time to find her rhythm but eventually put up 26 points on 9 of 19 shooting alongside 6 rebounds, 3 steals, and an impressive five blocks. Meanwhile, freshman Emma Clarke tallied 7 points and 4 rebounds in 23 minutes for the gutsy Colorado side. Smith then went close to a double-double against Utah, tallying 19 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 blocks, but in a battle of teams with 17-1 records, it was the Utes who edged away late in the contest to register a 75-68 victory and put those who had yet to recognise their threat on notice for the rest of the season.
St. Francis Brooklyn’s Australian duo of Jade Johnson and Amy O’Neill continue to lead from the front for the Terriers, with Johnson again pouring in the points as her team split a pair of games. The South Australian tallied 13 points in St. Francis’ 64-53 victory over Fairleigh Dickinson, whilst O’Neill was perhaps the best on court in finishing with 14 points, 12 rebounds, and 6 assists in yet another outstanding all-round performance. Johnson then went off for her third 25-point game in five outings against Mount St. Mary’s, hitting 5 of 9 from deep on her way to 25 points and 9 rebounds. However, despite that effort from the junior, St. Francis couldn’t quite get over the line as Mount St. Mary’s just eked out a 78-75 win. O’Neill once again dished assists for fun, tallying 7 dimes alongside 3 points.
Moving over the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge from Brooklyn to Staten Island, Taylah Simmons continues to be a shining light for Wagner even as the Seahawks fell to a pair of heavy losses this week to slip to 3-5 in conference play. The sophomore was one of two Wagner players that combined for over half the team’s score in a 69-46 loss to Robert Morris, tallying a game-high 15 points on 50% shooting and pulling down 5 rebounds. Simmons managed to outdo that scoring effort against Saint Francis later in the week, connecting on 9 of 14 from the field on her way to 19 points and 3 assists. However, Saint Francis buried a mammoth 18 of 32 from beyond the arc on their way to a 61% shooting night and a comprehensive 107-70 victory.
Florida are finding the going tough in SEC play, but Funda Nakkasoglu continues to perform solidly for her team. The Gators were up against it from the outset in a 90-42 defeat to a Mississippi State side missing Chloe Bibby, but Nakkasoglu managed to play a brave knock in tallying a team-high 14 points in the defeat. The Gators had their chances to make amends against Arkansas, particularly after leading 19-7 at the end of the first quarter. But despite 20 points and 4 assists from Nakkasoglu, a 58-37 scoreline across the 2nd and 3rd quarters was too much for the Gators to overcome as they fell to an 83-73 defeat and slipped to 1-5 in conference play.
Boston College may have slipped to 2-5 in ACC play with a heartbreaking 76-73 defeat to Miami, but it wasn't for lack of trying from Georgia Pineau and Taylor Ortlepp. Ortlepp led the way for the Eagles with 17 points and 3 assists, whilst Pineau fell just short of a double-double with 10 points and a team-high 9 rebounds. But despite heading into the final term up 59-55, the Eagles couldn't quite maintain their lead as Miami came over the top in the final minutes to grab the victory.
Southern Methodist may have fallen to a heavy 79-39 defeat to national powerhouse UConn, but Alicia Froling reminded everyone, including WNBA coaches, that she can perform against the best in the nation. On an otherwise abject day for the Mustangs, Froling stood tall, both literally and figuratively, in shooting 6 of 10 from the field to tally 13 points and also collect 13 rebounds to be Southern Methodist’s only real standout on the day.
Finally, Callie Bourne came into her own this week as the Idaho State freshman helped the Bengals to a pair of wins as they hosted the Big Sky’s Montana schools. In a low-scoring 50-34 victory over Montana, Bourne was one of three players to share team-high scoring honours with 11 points, before all but picking up her first career double-double against Montana State. The Bengals held their opponents to just 14 second-half points in securing a 61-50 victory, with Bourne registering 9 points and collecting 10 rebounds, with only a few missed free throws denying the freshman the double-double. Bourne has now started Idaho State’s last eight games, and is looking tougher to displace from the starting lineup with every passing week.