The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, Gonzaga and Western Kentucky may not be found in Week 2 of the NCAA Women's Basketball Rankings – but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been a great week for mid-major hoops.
Green Bay squared off in South Bend against No. 1 Notre Dame, taking the Fighting Irish down to the wire. Notre Dame led by as many as 17 points in the third quarter, yet Green Bay came within four points of shocking the world.
This was only the second time since the 2009-10 campaign that an unranked team came within four points of the Fighting Irish on their home court (via ESPN's Graham Hays). Green Bay’s Jessica Lindstrom pieced together a career night with 20 points and 16 boards.
As a team, the Phoenix had four more assists, shot 44.6% from the field compared to Notre Dame’s 35.9%, had more than double the amount of bench points (22) and had two more blocks than the nation’s best squad. Green Bay sits in second in the College Insider Mid-Major Top 25 behind Summit League powerhouse South Dakota State, who recently took down Big 10 foe University of Iowa to move to 4-0 on the year.
The mid-major noise doesn’t end at Green Bay, however. Chattanooga came within three points of taking down No. 23 Indiana as that game also came down to the final minutes. While the Phoenix and Mocs were close to major upsets this week, Gonzaga and Western Kentucky – who as of now is not even in the Mid-Major Top 25 poll – both walked away with wins over nationally ranked opponents.
Gonzaga handed No. 11/7, Stanford, just its eighth loss at home dating back to 2007 and simultaneously captured its first-ever program win over the Cardinal on Nov. 18. Last year around this time, Santa Clara also stunned Stanford on their home court.
The Bulldogs shot a stellar 50% for the game and held Stanford to under 40%. Gonzaga’s Jill Barta alone was 8-10 from the field for 26 points. Barta alongside her teammate Elle Tinkle were a lethal combination. Tinkle also stuffed the stat sheet with 18 points, five rebounds, three assists, three blocks and three steals. If that isn’t an impressive all-around display of talent – not sure what is.
Western Kentucky was yet another mid-major program with a win over a Top 25 team. While No. 23 Indiana dodged Chattanooga, the Lady Toppers took care of business with an 85-74 win over the Hoosiers on Nov. 19.
Western Kentucky’s Tashia Brown rattled home 15 points in the fourth quarter alone – setting a program record – and finished the game with 28 points. Kendall Noble flirted with a triple-double as she also chipped in 16 points, nine rebounds, seven assists, two blocks and one theft.
Speaking of the ability to score, Northern Illinois’ Ally Lehman dropped 48 points and snagged 21 rebounds in a double overtime win over Milwaukee this week. This set a new program single-game scoring record (breaking her own 41-point record) and also tied the Mid-American Conference single-game scoring record. Northern Illinois is another squad to keep an eye on this season. As a team, they are fourth in the country in scoring offense at 94.3 ppg through three games.
The Mid-Major Top 25 teams combined for 58 total votes in week two of the AP Top 25 and USA Today national polls. South Dakota State accounted for 27 of those 58 votes while Green Bay earned five votes, Chattanooga earned two; Gonzaga earned two and Western Kentucky earned six.