NCAA Women: Whittle doubles up and Froling twins impress early on

The new NCAA Women season is underway and Michael De Lacy takes a look at the action and the big standouts in the first week of NCAA Aussie Women.

Player of the Week

While there were plenty of Aussie women to choose from the opening week of play, we chose one that went close to racking up three straight double-doubles.

Marena Whittle - Credit Richard Svaleson via North Dakota State Athletics

Marena Whittle kicks off the new season as the first player of the week grabbing 2 double-doubles, 34 points, 28 rebounds and 9 assists across her first 3 games. This shouldn't be a surprise as the undersized Whittle is known to control the rebounds in the paint.

The 5'11" forward started the season ready and energized, filling the stats sheet completely across three games. First up was a 12 point, 8 rebound, 4 assist, 3 steal and 2 block effort in 34 minutes as the North Dakota State Bison accounted for Kent State 74-68. It was a game in which Whittle excelled, helping the Bison score an impressive 33 points off 27 Kent State turnovers.

In Whittle's second game of the season, she continued her stellar play in recording a double-double of 11 points, 10 rebounds and 4 assists. However this effort not prove enough as Milwaukee held off the Bison 77-73.

Whittle backed up her first double-double of the season with another in her next outing. Once again she was a presence in the paint, grabbing 11 points and 10 boards in a loss against Western Michigan 57-74. The Bison shot a poor 38% percent from field and will rue a chance to improve their early record.

With her fantastic individual start to the season, Whittle will be hoping to help improve her team's on court results over the next week.

Team of the Week

While we could have gone with the likes of Southern Methodist featuring the Froling twins or Nicole Seekamp's Fresno State we went with a tropical flavor, Hawaii featuring Ashleigh Karaitiana.

This weeks team of the week is Big West's Hawaii University. They grabbed two big wins in two tightly contested games, including an overtime thriller. Expect Hawaii to be big contenders in this seasons Big West, with Karaitiana leading the way.

Hawaii's Ashleigh Karaitiana went 5/11 from the field on her way to 12 points in an overtime victory over Colorado State. The 6'0 Aussie played an important role in the win, adding 4 rebounds and 3 assists while playing all 45 minutes of the game!

In Karaitiana's second game of the new season she had a very impressive defensive outing and offensive effort, going double-digits in scoring again, with 12 points to go alongside 6 rebounds, 1 block and a massive 4 steals in 35 minutes of non-stop action. It was Hawaii's second straight close game and another win on the table 60-58 against Denver. Karaitiana's squad now move on to their next challenge which will be against California in the Hawaii Rainbow Wahine Classic.

Best of the Rest

The Idaho Vandals in their first game of the season were defeated by California State University despite gun Stacey Barr's team-high 18 points. Barr did struggle from the field going 7/24 and a forgettable 8 turnovers, however she pulled in a solid 12 rebounds for a double-double in the loss. New Freshmen Geraldine McCorkell was impressive early in her first game for the Vandals adding 10 points and 5 rebounds, but this wasn't enough to get the Vandals over the line going down 50-67 in an ugly game for the Vandals once again, who trailed all game and shot a measly 13 percent (4/30 FG) in the first half and never got going.

Stacey Barr - Courtesy University of Idaho Athletics

Coach Jon newlee had this to say after the disappointing loss.

“We were our own worst enemy in that first half.” Give credit to CSUN. They are a great team. I also felt that a lot of what happened in the first 20 minutes was due to what we were doing, not exactly what they were doing. We had way too much ball stoppage, trying to take people off the dribble. Everybody was trying to make their own play instead of making the extra pass.”

In their second outing, the Vandals managed to fight out a 47-44 win over UC-Santa Barbara. Barr went 6/16 from the field for a game-high 20 points with 6 rebounds. Barr is now just a single 3-pointer away from nailing 200 in her career.

Mollie McKendrick had a very impressive first game of the season as a senior and was ready to impress for Boston. The 6'0" foot center played a vital role in keeping her team in the game and grabbed a team high 19 points and 8 rebounds in 33 minutes, however the Terriers found themselves on the wrong end of a 74-75 result against Northeastern. In McKendrick's second game she was reasonably quiet in a nail-biting 63-62 victory over Harvard. She managed 5 points with 6 rebounds in 24 minutes on court as Boston improved to (1-1).

Nicole Seekamp had an unusually off night to open her senior year, going 2/13 from the field for 7 points and 7 rebounds in a 83-78 victory over Drake. South Dakota's bench played a big part in the victory, providing 41 points compared to Drake's dismal 11. Seekamp bounced back big in her next game and was able to help get the Coyotes over the line against Kansas 68-60. Seekamp produced a team high 21 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists in 30 minutes as she completely removed her previous individual performance from memory. In a massive achievement, Seekamp became the 21st player in South Dakota women's basketball history to record 1,000 career points.

Sheedy with the sweet stroke - Courtesy Fresno State Athletics

The new-look Bulldogs started the season with two solid wins and Alex Sheedy played a big part in both victories. Sheedy is flourishing under new coach Jaime White, leading the Bulldogs to their first victory of the season. A 67-56 win over Cal Poly. She would collect a nice double-double, consisting of a double-double with 12 points, 11 rebounds and 5 assists. In their second game the Bulldogs enjoyed a big win over Cal State Stanislaus 65-36. Sheedy once again played a big part in the win, providing 20 points, 8 rebounds and 2 steals in a very impressive 22 minutes!

Coach Jaime White said this after the game.

“I thought we started out of the gates pretty good tonight, obviously Alex (Sheedy) and Bego (Faz Davalos) did a good job. I thought we did a good job defensively. Anytime you hold a team to 36 points you’re doing something right.”

The twin-towers of Alicia and Keely Froling were eager to impress in their start to their collegiate careers with Southern Methodist. Needless to say they did so with skill and brilliance, displaying a huge amount of potential but also with consistent output. Alicia started in her first college game and nearly produced a double-double with 9 points and 9 rebounds in 37 minutes while her sister Keely came off the bench for 2 points and 9 rebounds in a tough 44-57 loss to Northern Colorado.

However SMU’s first victory of the season would soon follow as they edged UTEP 63-59. Alicia delivered 14 points, 4 rebounds and 2 blocks, while Keely added an impressive 14 points and 6 rebounds. It would be that output that saw Keely elevated into the starting line-up the very next game.

Both twins were in the starting line-up against TCU. Alicia contributed a near double-double with 10 points and 8 rebounds, with Keely compiling 9 points and 6 rebounds in her first career start. Both twins are worth following closely this season and are likely to continue to improve with each game they play. Watch out for these guys in the new year.

In freshman Kristy Wallace’s first game for Baylor, she played a vital role in a 41 point victory against Oral Roberts (101-60). As a starter, Wallace was impressive in putting up 11 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals in 29 minutes. Baylor forced an incredible 33 turnover’s compared to Baylor’s 8 and Wallace's presence in the paint is sure to be a big factor in the Bears changes this season.

Stephanie Bairstow had a solid game for Utah State in compiling 12 points and 4 rebounds in the Aggies second straight loss, this time against Oregon 85-62. Oregon is the team that fellow Aussie Jacinta Vandenberg transferred to from Fresno State this offseason (red-shirt). In freshman Funda Nakkasoglu's second game for the Aggies, she produced some good-looking numbers in 20 minutes, collecting 11 points, 3 assists and a game-high 5 steals while teammate Bairstow had 13 points and 4 steals. As a team, Utah State generated an impressive 21 steals and forced 25 turnovers in very strong defensively oriented game.

Bianca Dufelmeier, the daughter of a former NBL player, played a crucial role for Alabama-Birmington against Lipscomb. She pulled down a new career-high 12 rebounds with 8 points in 23 minutes as her team secured a 72-54 victory. It was another very promising start to an Aussie collegiate career.

Freshman Louise Brown and Washington State encountered their first loss of the season with a 82-61 loss to Nebraska. Brown has her best effort thus far in her very brief start to her college career producing a near double-double with 7 points and 10 rebounds. Definitely another fresh new face to keep an eye on this season.

Another freshman showing some encouraging early signs was Tasmanian Grace Lennox. Starting in her first game, she managed to pull together 7 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and an impressive 5 steals but the Panthers fell 53-69 to Kansas City. The struggling Panthers currently remain winless to start the season, however with continued improvement from Lennox, the Panthers will be hoping to turn this round against North Texas.

To round out this week's update, flashy sophomore Vanessa Panousis delivered 17 points, 4 rebounds and 6 assists in 35 minutes as she helped lead the Virginia Tech Hokies to a 60-49 victory over Norfolk State.