NCAA Women: Phillips leads Norfolk State to first wins

The usual faces put in excellent shifts this week, with Funda Nakkasoglu, Lauren Nicholson, and Alicia Froling all among the top performers. There were also some great performances from some more unlikely sources, as Kiara Phillips helped Norfolk State break their season duck, whilst Alex Delaney and Yasmin Miller also showcased some scintillating play.

Kiara Phillips | Credit: Mark W. Sutton via Norfolk State University

In what has been a trying season for Norfolk State, the Spartans picked up their first win of the season this week, with Kiara Phillips playing the lead role. Against fellow MEAC cellar-dwellers Howard, Phillips hit 7-19 from the field and was a perfect 4-4 from the line on her way to 21 points as Norfolk State required double overtime to get past the Bison, 110-108. Phillips also contributed 5 assists and 5 rebounds in a scintillating effort. The Spartans then managed to go from 19 losses in a row to two wins on the trot as Phillips again delivered a solid performance against Maryland-Eastern Shore. The junior scored 12 points and also contributed in other ways, notching 4 assists and 5 rebounds for a second excellent all-round performance to give the Norfolk State faithful something to smile about for the first time in a long while.

Alicia Froling may not have hit the heady heights of last week’s 30/20 performance, but the sophomore was still instrumental for Southern Methodist as all three Aussies put in sterling performances in a 65-50 win over UCF. Froling picked up yet another double-double, scoring 16 points on 7-11 shooting and collecting 11 rebounds. Twin sister Keely Froling came within a single point of a double-double of her own, finishing with 9 points and 10 rebounds, whilst Steph Collins added 13 points and 3 rebounds of her own, meaning the Australian contingent contributed over half of SMU’s points in the win.

Funda Nakkasoglu had another two high-scoring performances this week, but would have been far more pleased with her second effort of the weekend, which led Utah State to victory after a first-up loss. Taking on Boise State, the point guard finished with 19 points, but shot 6-22 from the field in reaching that target as the Aggies fell 63-58 in a tight contest. A better performance, both from Nakkasoglu and the entire Utah State team, would be needed if they were to get over Wyoming, and they duly delivered. Nakkasoglu shot 9-19 from the field and a perfect 12-12 from the line to finish with a remarkable 32 points. The sophomore also set up her teammates well, finishing with 8 assists in an 84-75 win. Rachel Brewster also contributed to the win, finishing with 12 points and 5 rebounds.

Alex Delaney was on fire all week for St Francis Brooklyn, topping her career high scoring mark twice in the space of three days. The Terriers could only split their fixtures, though. Coming into the game against Sacred Heart, Delaney’s career high was 15 points, but 6-11 from the field helped produce 17 points for the sophomore, but Sacred Heart prevailed 63-55. That performance was simply a precursor for a white-hot shooting effort in the first half of an 88-78 victory over Fairleigh Dickinson in the side’s second game of the week. Delaney hit 4 of her first 5 shots from beyond the arc to help St. Francis out to a 14 point lead late in the second quarter. Delaney would eventually finish with 18 points, shooting 6-12 from the field. The Sydneysider also pulled in 7 rebounds in the victory.

Lauren Nicholson was back to her best for Saint Mary’s, although the Gaels split their games this week. Nicholson went 8-8 from the charity stripe and also shot an efficient 7-11 from the field as her 24 points were instrumental in in Saint Mary’s 68-60 victory over San Diego. A top of the table clash with BYU ensued for the Gaels, but the Cougars proved to be too good, cruising to a 65-44 win. Nicholson again scored in double figures, contributing 12 points, whilst Megan McKay was a menace on the boards, picking up 9 rebounds to go with her 4 points.

Yasmin Miller led Coastal Carolina to a barnstorming 11 point second half comeback, but the Chanticleers fell in overtime to UNC Asheville in their only clash of the week. With her side trailing 33-22 at halftime, Miller scored 15 of her 21 points in the second half. The Queenslander shot a perfect 4-4 from the field and 6-6 from the charity stripe as regulation ended 63-63. Unfortunately, UNC Asheville kicked again in the overtime period to run out 77-69 victors. Miller was one of three Coastal Carolina players to finish in double figures, leading the team with 21 points on 7-9 from the field and 6-7 from the line.

Claire Ioannidis put in two solid efforts for North Florida, but her performances were in vain as the Ospreys suffered two heavy defeats to leave the team 2-6 in conference play. Ioannidis contributed 17 points on 5-9 shooting in the side’s first game of the week, but Stetson proved far too good, cruising to an 81-61 victory. In a tough week, conference leaders Florida Gulf Coast proved an even harder matchup. Ioannidis managed to contribute 13 points, including 7-8 from the line, but Florida Gulf Coast ensured their conference record remained untarnished, running out 75-50 winners.