Games were sparse in the week before Christmas, with teams shutting things down in the last few days before the holiday. Nonetheless, many Australians put together performances that delivered the perfect gift to teammates and fans, with Jasmine Trimboli and Stephanie Reid, among others, leading their teams to victories.
Jasmine Trimboli finished the pre-Christmas period of the season with an absolute flourish, leading South Dakota to a pair of wins, and in doing so improving the Coyotes to an 8-5 record. Trimboli started the week with a solid 12 points in a 75-66 win over UC Riverside, shooting 5 of 8 from the field and also collecting 5 rebounds and 4 steals. However her performance against rivals North Dakota was something else entirely. Hitting a highly impressive 10 of her 12 attempts from the field, Trimboli tallied a career-high 21 points, and the Coyotes needed every one of those points as they managed to sneak home 76-71.
Facing Mississippi State was always going to be a tough test for Tiana Mangakahia and Syracuse, but despite falling to their first loss of the season, Mangakahia was still able to exhibit her talents. Despite coughing up 8 turnovers against the outstanding defence of the Rebels, Mangakahia was still able to tally 20 points on 6 of 15 shooting, and also dished out 6 assists as the Orange fell 76-65 to last season’s national runner-up. Syracuse backed up the next day to take on UNLV, where they would bounce back from the previous day’s loss with a comfortable 69-55 win. Mangakahia added another 12 points, and almost completed a triple-double with 9 assists and a stunning 8 steals.
Courtney Woods could once again be counted on to score plenty for Northern Illinois in a week where the Huskies split a pair of games, with the Queenslander’s points vital for her side. Shooting 8 of 10 in an 84-75 win over Sacramento State, Woods finished with a team-high equalling 20 points as Northern Illinois cruised to victory. The junior then followed up with 19 more points against Albany, including a late three that gave the Huskies one last chance to send the game to overtime. A buzzer-beater for Northern Illinois secured an extra five minutes of basketball, but Albany ran out 97-91 winners after a late flurry of scoring.
Funda Nakkasoglu produced a team-high scoring effort for Florida, but unfortunately it wasn’t quite enough as the Gators fell to Chattanooga. The point guard finished with 21 points on 7 of 12 shooting, and also connected on 5 of 6 free throws, but the Gators hit just one of 18 attempts from beyond the arc in the second half as Chattanooga outscored Florida 39-24 after halftime to secure a 65-60 win and drop the Gators to 6-5. Florida did, however, improve their record to 8-5 with games either side of Christmas. Nakkasoglu reached double figures in both games, scoring 14 points in a 71-51 over Saint Joseph’s before tallying an even 10 points as the Gators demolished Delaware State 85-51.
Louise Brown’s comeback has been gathering pace all season, and this week the redshirt junior once again showed exactly what she is capable of in a 73-61 over Nebraska. Coming off a double-double in last week's win over Boise State, Brown was outstanding in all facets of the game, with her 5 of 8 shooting for 12 points matched by her 12 rebounds, culminating in another double-double. The Victorian also tallied 3 assists and 3 steals to secure a player of the game performance as the Cougars kept their record above .500 at 7-5 heading into Pac-12 play.
Megan McKay was another west coast-based Australian to pick up a double-double, even as Saint Mary’s lost their final game at a tournament in Indiana, going down 70-60 to hosts Purdue. McKay finished with team highs in both scoring and rebounding, finishing with 14 points on 7 of 12 shooting and pulling down 10 rebounds as the Gaels trimmed an early double-digit deficit to a single basket before Purdue pulled away late. Fellow Australian Jasmine Forcadilla added 8 points, and also tallied 4 assists and 4 rebounds.
Stephanie Reid once again showed why she is considered the true leader of the Buffalo side as the Bulls edged home 73-72 over St. John’s. As well as contributing 16 points, 5 assists, and 4 rebounds, Reid once again came up with the clutch play to secure the win. With Buffalo down 72-70 with 12 seconds to play, Reid drove to the hoop, making the lay-up and converting the and-one opportunity to give her team the lead with five seconds to play. The Buffalo defence managed to hold on for those last few seconds, securing the victory and seeing the Bulls move to an impressive 9-2 record.
Alex Sharp helped lead Wake Forest to a veritable demolition of Charleston, and in the process yet again came within reaching distance of a triple-double. Shooting 4 of 9 from the field, Sharp tallied 9 points, but also pulled down 10 rebounds and dished out 6 assists as the Demon Deacons chalked up their sixth win on the trot in a 77-40 smashing of the team from South Carolina.
Finally, the Boston College pair of Georgia Pineau and Taylor Ortlepp continued to be among the best performed Eagles, even if a 21-6 third quarter deficit put paid to the team’s chances of snaring a victory against Providence. Nonetheless, Ortlepp was once again among the team’s scoring leaders, finishing with 12 points. Meanwhile, Pineau was again excellent on the boards, picking up 9 rebounds alongside 9 points to come desperately close to finishing with a double-double and continue to sit close to a double-double average for the season, with the sophomore currently sitting on 11.8 points and 9.4 rebounds per game this season.