NCAA Women: Ortlepp fires, Woods out for season

There was plenty to be happy about given the performances of Australians this week, but that was tempered by the week’s biggest news - the loss of Northern Illinois senior Courtney Woods to an ACL injury, continuing what has been an unfortunate theme of the last couple of seasons among Australian players.

The Australian senior went down late in the Huskies’ win over Nevada on December 2, with the news emerging later in the week that Woods would indeed miss the remainder of the season with the injury. However, the Cheryl Miller award nominee will take a red-shirt this season and return for the Huskies in 2019-20.

Boston College may only have won one of their two games this week, but that didn’t stop Taylor Ortlepp from having a dominant presence across the weekend. The junior buried 3 of 7 from beyond the arc on the way to 15 points in the Eagles’ 83-46 demolition of Bryant, and also collected six steals, just one shy of the program record. However, that was nothing compared to the South Australian’s performance in a 77-69 loss to Minnesota. Ortlepp knocked down another 6 of 11 from deep to finish with a season-high 25 points, whilst fellow Australian Georgia Pineau added 12 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists, but Minnesota star Destiny Pitts dropped 35 to lead her team to victory. After averaging just 6.6 points per game coming into the weekend, a pair of performances like this may just be the catalyst for Ortlepp, who averaged 12.3 points last season, to kickstart her 2018/19 campaign.

It’s rare that a player plays 55 minutes in a game, but Jade Johnson and Amy O’Neill did exactly that this week, playing every second of St. Francis’ triple overtime thriller against win-less Loyola Maryland. The Terriers needed a last second basket to push the game into overtime and then, amazingly, no points were scored in the final minute of each of the first two overtime periods, as neither team could secure the win. But Johnson scored six points in the third extra period, including a pair of free throws that put her team up four with 25 seconds to play. She would finish with a team-high 16 points as well as 7 rebounds, while O’Neill came within a single assist of a triple-double, finishing with 12 points, 11 rebounds, and 9 dimes as St. Francis moved to 5-3.

The pair showed out once again later in the week as St. Francis came up trumps in another thriller, knocking off St. Peter’s 74-70 in regulation. Both Johnson and O’Neill played 38 minutes, with Johnson dropping a game-high 23 points and O’Neill dishing and swishing her way to 9 points and 10 assists as the duo continue to be vital to the Terriers’ success.

Shannon Dufficy continues to prove herself as one of the top Australian front court players in college, coming up with yet another massive double-double in Utah State’s 62-56 win over UTSA. A monster 17-point, 16-rebound performance was ably backed up by Steph Gorman’s 10 points, while Eliza West added 7 points, 4 assists, and 4 rebounds. Olivia West added 8 points and Rachel Brewster collected 8 boards as all five Australians made meaningful contributions to the win. A similar situation followed in the Aggies’ 57-41 win over North Texas. Whilst no one player put together a monster performance like Dufficy’s in the earlier game, the five Australians combined for 36 of the team’s 57 points and 9 of the 11 assists to lead the team to victory.

Haylee Andrews had found points tough to come by in recent weeks, but hit back in Portland’s 98-63 victory over NAIA side Warner Pacific. In 30 minutes of playing time, Andrews came up just short of a triple-double, tallying 10 points and 10 assists as well as 7 rebounds as the Pilots rolled in moving to 6-2. The freshman then followed up with a short 20-minute stint against NCAA Division III Williamette, tallying another 13 points and 6 rebounds in Portland’s 82-27 rout of their overmatched opponents.

An Aussie-laden battle between Hawaii and Division II side Hawaii Pacific saw Courtney Middap stand tallest among her fellow countrywomen, finishing with a career-high in the Rainbow Wahine’s 66-51 victory. Whilst Hawaii Pacific’s Aussie pair of Amy Baum and Abbey Noblett each finished in double figures, it was Middap’s 19 points in just 21 minutes of action that helped get Hawaii over the line, with the junior knocking down 3 of 4 from deep and 8 of 10 at the charity stripe as the Wahine moved to 3-7.

Houston Baptist junior Lauren Calver’s season debut had been delayed by several weeks due to injury, but the Illawarra product returned with a vengeance despite her team’s 100-75 loss to North Texas. Calver led the Huskies with 17 points, hitting 8 of 15 from the field and collecting four rebounds on what was otherwise a tough day for the team. Things didn’t get any better for the Huskies in a 77-44 loss to Oklahoma State later in the week, but Calver once again top-scored, finishing as the Huskies’ only player in double figures with 10 points and 4 rebounds.

Ahlise Hurst continued her solid start to her college career, brushing off a disappointing 3 of 15 shooting effort in a 69-51 win over UTEP to come out firing in New Mexico’s 84-55 rout of Northern Arizona. Hurst played 31 minutes, the most of any player on the roster, and hit 4 of 10 from deep to tally 17 points. She also picked up seven rebounds in a solid all-round performance as New Mexico moved to an impressive 7-1 to start the season.

Miela Goodchild and Jess McDowell-White have both been thrown in at the deep end in their freshman years, but the Queensland pair are doing more than just tread water for Duke and Eastern Washington respectively. Goodchild was denied a blockbuster matchup against South Carolina due to incoming weather, but knocked down 4 of 9 from deep on her way to 14 points in the Blue Devils’ 66-38 victory over UNLV as her spot in the starting lineup looks more secure by the game. Meanwhile, McDowell-White helped keep Eastern Washington in the contest before ultimately falling 67-55 to Boise State, tallying 15 points for her fourth double-figure scoring effort in 7 games to this point.

Finally, Pacific sophomore Issy Parker hadn’t scored more than five points in a game before this week, but doubled her career-high with her first double-figure scoring effort in a 75-61 win over Seattle. Parker hit 5 of 7 from the field on her way to 10 points in just 10 minutes, showing a brief glimpse of what the sophomore will be hoping to produce on a regular basis going forward.