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NCAA Women: Wallace leads Baylor to the Big 12 title
The Texas-based Aussies were on song once again, with Kristy Wallace leading Baylor to victory to clinch the outright regular season title for the Lady Bears, whilst Alicia Froling continued the record-breaking season for the Aussies at SMU. Lauren Nicholson sparkled in her return to full playing time, whilst Marena Whittle signed off on her college career with two solid performances.
Baylor came into this week knowing that they had to win both games to secure the outright Big 12 title, and Kristy Wallace saved her best for the big moment. In a game against Kansas State that Baylor made slightly heavy work of, Wallace shot 3/8 from the field on her way to 9 points as the Lady Bears eventually ran away with the game in the second half to win 63-52. Having already clinched their sixth straight Big 12 regular season title, Baylor still needed to beat second-placed Texas to secure the title outright and claim the #1 seed for the conference tournament. Enter Wallace. The sophomore scored 13 points in the third quarter alone as Baylor blew the game wide open after halftime, and Wallace finished with 23 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists to earn player of the match honours in a comprehensive 74-48 victory which proved that Baylor are streets ahead of the remainder of the Big 12. Soon after the win, Wallace was also named All-Big 12 Honourable Mention.
Alicia Froling helped continue the amazing run of Australians breaking records at Southern Methodist this season, but unfortunately her efforts were in vain as the Mustangs went down in all three contests this week. Coming up against the unstoppable juggernaut that is Connecticut, Froling was still able to compile a reasonable stat line, finishing with 6 points and 8 rebounds as SMU went down 88-41 in yet another blowout victory for UConn. The sophomore then picked up an astonishing 13th double-double of the season, finishing with 14 points and 12 rebounds in a 63-54 loss to Houston.
The Mustangs’ final game of the regular season came against East Carolina. Whilst the side fell to their fourth consecutive loss in a 78-61 defeat, Froling again scored in double figures, finishing with 10 points on 5/8 shooting, whilst her 6 rebounds saw the Queenslander set a new Southern Methodist single season rebounding record. Steph Collins also put in a solid performance against ECU, finishing with 14 points on 6/8 shooting to lead the Mustangs in scoring. SMU will go into the American Athletic Conference tournament as the #7 seed, and play #10 seed UCF, with whom they have split their games this season.
It’s been a tough old season for North Dakota State as they finished bottom of the Summit League, but Marena Whittle finished her college career with two more performances of the ilk that we’ve come to expect from the Victorian senior. Whittle’s shooting was slightly off in the Bison’s first game of the week against Western Illinois, going 6/21 for 17 points. However she also collected 15 rebounds and 5 assists, but NDSU went down 100-89. Whittle again hit double figures against IPFW, shooting just 4/12 from the field, but 5/6 from the line to finish with 14 points. Unfortunately, the Bison went down again, this time 85-69. With the Summit League not inviting the bottom placed team in the conference to the conference tournament, this week brought an end to Whittle’s college career. An outstanding senior season saw the Victorian average a double-double, with 16.8 points and 10.3 rebounds per game.
After a short layoff and some limited playing time over the last couple of weeks, Lauren Nicholson returned to her regular spot in the rotation and dominated in both of Saint Mary’s games this week. In a 78-70 victory over Santa Clara, Nicholson was her usual perfect self from the line, hitting 8/8 to go with 4/11 from the field to finish with 19 points. Megan McKay also put in an outstanding shift, hitting 7/9 from the field on her way to 18 points and 5 rebounds. Nicholson scored another 19 in the Gaels’ second game of the week, a 72-59 victory over San Francisco. The senior shot 7/14 from the field and hit 5/6 from the charity stripe, whilst Carly Turner played the role of supporting Aussie in this one, finishing with 6 points and 10 rebounds. Nicholson collected a bunch of silverware this week too, being named West Coast Conference Player of the Week, and also being named to the All-WCC First Team.
Despite being known for her ability to get to the line, Funda Nakkasoglu did it almost all from the field in an outstanding performance in Utah State’s win over Nevada. Nakkasoglu hit 11/17 from the field and shot just 1/1 from the charity stripe on her way to 25 points as the Aggies ran out 70-55 victors. Utah State unfortunately went down in their second game of the week to San Jose State, 83-65. Despite this, both of the Aggies’ Aussies put in solid performance. Nakkasoglu scored 15 points and also had 7 assists and 3 steals, whilst Rachel Brewster continued her outstanding freshman year, notching 16 points and 8 rebounds in the loss.
South Dakota continued their march to the Summit League regular season title, with Nicole Seekamp once again leading the way as the Coyotes cruised on their 2 game road trip in Indiana. In a 90-63 victory over IPFW, Seekamp tallied 11 points (4/9 FG) and also added 5 assists. The senior also picked up 3 steals, a stat which appears to be becoming a regularity for Seekamp. IUPUI proved to be slightly more of a challenge for the Coyotes, but with Seekamp steering the ship, South Dakota finished 74-63 victors. The point guard scored 12 points and also contributed 3 assists, whilst Jasmine Trimboli tallied 8 points of her own. South Dakota have clinched the #1 seed in the Summit League tournament and will take on Denver in the first round. The Coyotes are sure to have plenty of support, with the tournament being played just an hour up the road in Sioux Falls.
Courtney Woods continued a scintillating backend to her freshman year, notching another two double-figure scoring efforts to take her average to 10 points per game. Woods was unstoppable as Northern Illinois knocked off Western Michigan 80-70, scoring 21 points on 7/13 field goal shooting, and also collecting 10 rebounds. The Huskies then took on Toledo and, despite being seven wins behind the Rockets, managed to take the game to overtime after coming back from 10 points down after three quarters. Woods scored 12 points and picked up 9 rebounds, but Toledo managed to regroup and run out 6 point winners, 89-83.