NCAA Women: Panousis picks up ACC and ESPNW awards

It was a massive week for the Aussie women in Division I action, with a number earning weekly conference accolades. Arguably none had a greater impact that Virginia Tech's Vanessa Panousis.

Vanessa Panousis led the way for the Aussies this week, delivering a combined 37 points across two games. Included in her haul was a 21 point outing in Virginia Tech’s upset win over #8 ranked Tennessee, helping her clinch both the ACC Player of the Week and ESPNW National Player of the Week awards for the senior point guard. Junior forward Hannah Young was also firing for the Hokies, picking up 13 points and 8 rebounds in the side’s first game of the weekend, a 64-59 win over Penn State.

Southern Methodist fell to New Mexico and Texas A&M this week, but the Australian pairing of Alicia Froling and Stephanie Collins provided a silver lining. Collins had 13 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 blocks in the Mustangs’ 63-58 loss to New Mexico, whilst Froling had double-doubles in both games. The sophomore forward scored 11 points and pulled down 16 rebounds against the Lobos, but that proved to be just a taster of what we’d see against Texas A&M. Against a top 15 ranked team, Froling equaled the SMU single game rebounding record with a massive 21 boards; she also tacked on 14 points and 3 blocks.

Despite Froling's mammoth performance, the Mustangs fell 12 points short as Texas A&M limited SMU to just 7 points in the final quarter for a 67-55 win. Collins was also named to the American Athletic Conference Honor Roll for the week for her performance against New Mexico combined with her efforts in last weekend’s loss to North Texas, in which she had 10 points, 9 rebounds, and a massive 5 blocks.

Funda Nakkasoglu racked up the points for Utah State as they won one and lost one this week. The sophomore guard scored 25 of the side’s 60 points in a 74-60 loss to Northern Colorado as Utah State led at the end of three quarters but lost the final term 26-9. In a less testing game against NAIA school Haskell, Nakkasoglu again top scored for Utah State, finishing with 27 points and 9 assists in just 24 minutes in a 90-63 win. She finished the week off by being named America First Credit Union Utah State Student-Athlete of the Week. Freshman Rachel Brewster played a great supporting role as well, finishing with 9 points and 8 rebounds against Northern Colorado, before scoring another 17 points against Haskell.

Saint Mary’s picked up some early season silverware with victory at the Cal Tournament, where they were led by senior Lauren Nicholson. Nicholson picked up the tournament MVP award as well as the West Coast Conference Player of the Week for an outstanding week. Despite being restricted to just 9 points against California, she impacted the game in other ways in finishing with 7 rebounds and 7 assists. The guard made up for her lack of scoring in the week’s second game against Villanova, pouring in a career-high 29 points on 11-15 field goal shooting and 7 of 8 free throws. Nicholson was ably assisted by freshman forward Megan McKay who added 12 points and 6 rebounds off the bench against California, whilst Carly Turner and Hannah Kaser saw limited minutes in both games.

The weekly awards keep coming for the Aussies, as South Dakota’s Nicole Seekamp was awarded the Summit League Player of the Week. The South Australian senior got her week off to a great start, collecting 18 points, 4 assists, and 6 steals in just 15 minutes of play as the Coyote's dismantled Portland State 103-61. She followed that up with 24 points and 5 assists in 37 minutes as they defeated Drake 92-87 in a thrilling overtime victory.

Tennessee-Martin senior Chelsea Roberts had a monster week on the boards as her side scored two wins. Alabama were handed their first loss of the season, (83-65) and Roberts was the undoubted star of the game. She would collect 15 points on 5/8 shooting and 12 rebounds to record an impressive double-double. Whilst her scoring was not of the same ilk in a narrow 52-50 win against Samford, Roberts finished with another 11 rebounds as well as a surprisingly high 5 assists.

Also impressing was Ellie Stevens who connected on a perfect 9/9 from the line on her way to post a new career-high 16 points for San Jose State. However the Spartans fell just short against San Francisco, going down 82-78. After red-shirting last season, the junior college transfer has established herself as an integral member of the San Jose State side, but the Spartans have so far collected just the one win in competitive play.

UAB demolished both of their opponents this week, and Bianca Dufelmeier was at the forefront. The senior guard set a new season high with 13 points on 5-7 shooting against Arkansas-Pine Bluff, with 4 assists just for good measure as UAB notched an 82-32 victory. Bianca then came out against Mississippi Valley State and did almost the same, equaling the season high she set in the previous game with another 13 points, and also added another 5 assists as UAB cruised again, this time winning 80-33.