A week that saw Buffalo and Northern Illinois face off in an electric Aussie versus Aussie match up didn't disappoint, as Courtney Woods, Stephanie Reid, and Courtney Wilkins starred for their respective teams. Further south, the freshman pairing of Taylor Ortlepp and Georgia Pineau were instrumental in Boston College's road win over North Carolina, whilst on the west coast, Alanna Smith led Stanford to a win and Saint Mary's played Gonzaga in a game for the ages.
Taylor Ortlepp was dialled in from beyond the arc on her way to a career high 19 points as Boston College knocked off North Carolina, 88-77. The freshman scored the first 9 points of the second half via three consecutive three pointers, shooting 5-8 from beyond the arc and 6-11 from the field. Georgia Pineau also tallied a career high with 11 rebounds to go alongside 8 points and 5 assists of her own. Facing up against nationally ranked Louisville presented a far tougher challenge, and the Eagles got out of the blocks slowly. Down 14-4 after one quarter, Boston College eventually went down 68-43, with Pineau finishing with 7 points and 4 rebounds in an over-matched team.
In each team’s only game of the week, Courtney Woods and Northern Illinois faced the Australian quartet at Buffalo. Woods and the Huskies came away with the 89-80 win, with the Queenslander chalking up 19 points on an impressive 8-14 shooting, whilst also pulling down 10 rebounds for a double-double. Despite the loss, Stephanie Reid was again impressive for Buffalo. The point guard scored 18 points and continued to put up video game-like assist numbers, tallying another 12 in this game. Reid also collected 6 rebounds and 4 steals in an outstanding all-round performance. Courtney Wilkins was also outstanding for Buffalo, scoring a career-high 18 points in 23 minutes, but the Bulls fell victim to a 29-15 final quarter charge from the Huskies, with Woods shooting a perfect 3-3 for 8 points in the fourth quarter comeback.
Virginia Tech extended their unfortunate slide that has now extended to 8 games without a win, but Vanessa Panousis continued her return to scoring form following last week’s solid performance. The Hokies were always up against it in their first game of the week against #12 Louisville, but Panousis managed 12 points and 3 assists in an 88-70 loss. Virginia Tech then travelled south to visit North Carolina State for another challenging match-up. Again the Hokies went down, 85-71, but Panousis’ performance could not be faulted. The senior shot 8-13 from the field to finish with a team-high 20 points in the loss.
St Francis once again fell in a pair of close games, but without Alex Delaney’s performances they wouldn’t have even been in the contest on either occasion. A 21-4 second quarter crippled the Terriers’ chances in a 63-54 loss to Bryant, but Delaney was outstanding. The junior scored a game-high 14 points on 4-9 shooting from the field and also collected a team-high 8 rebounds. Delaney then put in a mammoth effort against Sacred Heart in a 61-58 loss. In a game that went to double overtime, Delaney was on court for all 50 minutes, scoring 15 points and again leading the team with 7 rebounds.
After last week’s win over Tennessee Tech snapped a two-game losing streak, Grace Lennox did her utmost to start a run of wins for Eastern Illinois, but was ultimately denied despite two excellent efforts. Despite the Tasmanian’s first career double-double - a 25 point, 10 rebound performance in which Lennox shot 11-18 from the field - a last second lay-up saw Tennessee-Martin complete a fourth quarter comeback for a 74-72 win. The Panthers then faced up to a three-point assault from Southeast Missouri State, who shot 17-32 from beyond the arc on their way to a 107-62 win. Despite the result, Lennox was solid again. The junior shot 5-10, including 2-2 from three-point range, on her way to 15 points, 6 assists, and 4 steals.
Alanna Smith started the week solidly and finished with a flourish as her role in the Stanford rotation continues to expand. In a low-scoring 64-51 win over Colorado, Smith shot 3-5 for 7 points and also collected 8 rebounds. More impressively, the sophomore racked up 5 blocks in 19 minutes of action. That was merely a precursor for what would come against Utah. Stanford jumped out to a 31-8 lead in the first quarter before rolling to an 87-51 win. Smith was a perfect 5-5 from the line and hit 5-11 from the field for a game-high 16 points as well as 5 rebounds in 20 minutes of action.
Utah Valley have had a tough season, but a couple of outstanding Sam Lubcke performances gave the Wolverines a pair of rare wins this week. Shooting 5-9 from the field in a 58-39 win over UMKC, the South Australian finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds for her first double-double of the week. Lubcke managed to improve on that performance in a 73-54 win over Chicago State, and it could have been even better. The junior made regular trips to the charity stripe, shooting 8-10 from the line and 5-9 from the field to finish with 18 points. Another 10 rebounds for Lubcke earned the forward a second double-double in the space of three days, this time completing the feat in just 22 minutes of playing time after spending much of the night in foul trouble.
Utah State went into their game against Colorado State having not defeated the Rams since 1985 and losing 74-43 in their last meeting just three weeks prior. Clearly the series history mattered little to the Aggies’ Australians, who all contributed significantly in a 55-48 boil-over win. Eliza West was the star on the offensive end, scoring 16 points and tallying 4 assists. Olivia West and Rachel Brewster provided more than adequate support with 13 and 9 points respectively, whilst Shannon Dufficy was dominant on the boards. The freshman pulled down an astounding 17 rebounds as Utah State held their opponents to just 17 points in the first half and then stifled any comeback attempt. Unfortunately, things didn’t quite go so smoothly against Wyoming. Rachel Brewster finished with a game high 15 points, but with little assistance, Utah State fell to a heavy 59-40 loss which snapped a four game winning streak.
Portland State may have dropped two more games this week as their losing streak extended to six games, but Courtney West appears undeterred by the team’s recent form. Although the Vikings went down 53-47 to Idaho State, West was outstanding. The sophomore shot 5-8 from the field to score 10 points, but her defensive work was more impressive. West pulled down 8 rebounds and also swatted away 5 shots as the Vikings won the final quarter 20-16 but were left to rue their first and third quarter performances, which yielded just 9 points in total. The Vikings managed to score far more efficiently against Weber State, but unfortunately ball security issues let them down in an 85-75 win. West racked up a double-double, with 19 points on 9-14 shooting backed up by an impressive 13 rebounds. But, once again the Vikings’ first quarter performance let them down, with the team unable to rally from a 32-18 deficit.
Saint Mary’s faced possibly their weakest conference opponents followed by their most important game of the regular season as the Gaels travelled to Portland and Gonzaga this weekend, looking to keep pace with the Zags atop the West Coast Conference. Carly Turner opened the weekend with 13 points on 5-11 shooting in a 75-65 win Portland, with Megan McKay tallying 8 points and 7 rebounds. Jasmine Forcadilla also played a significant role, getting to the charity stripe regularly and scoring all 7 of her points from the line, shooting 7-8. The Gaels and their arch rival Gonzaga then played out one of the games of the season. Saint Mary’s jumped out to a 15-7 lead after a quarter before Gonzaga charged back in a game that saw the lead change 19 times. Although Megan McKay came close to a double-double with 9 points and 10 rebounds, and Carly Turner scored 9 points of her own, Saint Mary’s were unable to score a field goal for the last 4 minutes of the contest. Gonzaga stormed home and took the lead with 9 seconds to go on a jumpshot from Laura Stockton, daughter of NBA legend John Stockton, to deny Saint Mary’s what would have been a famous victory on Gonzaga’s court and run out 59-58 winners.