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Around the NCAAW Weekly: Ionescu, Pitts and McDonald shine

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Last week we saw 2,000 points reached by Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu, 1,000 points reached by Minnesota’s Destiny Pitts and 44 points in a game recorded by Arizona’s Aari McDonald.

USA Women’s National Team v University of Oregon Ducks
Sabrina Ionescu seen playing in an exhibition game against Team USA. Ionescu surpassed 2,000 career points and 800 career assists last week.
Photo by Eric Evans/NBAE via Getty Images

This NCAAW Weekly post will highlight notable events of the week. Check out what surprises occurred, what milestones were reached and which players stood out from last week.


Surprise

The preseason No. 23 Minnesota Golden Gophers (3-1) bounced back from an upset loss at the hands of Missouri State and got themselves nine more AP votes with an 80-66 win over then-No. 19 Arizona State on Sunday. Lindsay Whalen’s crew was still trying to recover from last season’s disappointing Big Ten showing when they lost that first game of the season to the Lady Bears. Now they have regained some positive momentum after their perfect non-conference run in 2018-19 was ruined by a 9-9 record in the Big Ten, which caused them to miss the NCAA Tournament.

Whalen brought so much energy to her inaugural year as a Minnesota grad/former WNBA star and really had the team playing well at the beginning of the season. Now she’s trying to get her program back on track. Demonstrating that she can bring a team back from a tough loss to beat a ranked opponent is a good sign.

Milestones

No. 1 Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu, who will go down as one of the best college players of all-time, surpassed 2,000 points and 800 assists for her career in a 109-52 win over Utah State on Nov. 13. She was one rebound shy of her 19th career triple-double in that contest and finished last week with 30 rebounds and 32 assists in three games.

Meanwhile, Minnesota’s Destiny Pitts reached 1,000 points on her career in the win over the Sun Devils. Pitts’ performance in that game included 22 points, seven assists and five rebounds.

Big individual game

On Sunday, Aari McDonald led Arizona to a blowout win over then No. 22-Texas with 22 points in each half. The 44 points marked an Arizona program record and earned the Wildcats 43 more votes in the AP poll, putting them ahead of in-state rival Arizona State, who fell out of the rankings and received just 19 votes. McDonald also scored 24 points against Chicago State on Nov. 12.

Other notable performances

Mikayla Pivec (Oregon State senior) — 15.3 points, 10.3 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.3 blocks

Nia Clouden (Michigan State sophomore) — 28 points, three assists and three steals in critical win over then-No. 15 Notre Dame

Naz Hillmon (Michigan sophomore) — 21 points, 8.5 rebounds and three assists per game

Alexa Willard (Missouri State senior) — 25 points per game (4-for-8 from distance and 6-for-6 from the stripe)

Olivia Nelson-Ododa (UConn sophomore) — 14.5 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and five blocks per game

Madison Nelson (Denver senior) — 18.5 points and 12.5 rebounds per game

Ciara Duffy (South Dakota senior) — 18 points, six rebounds and 5.5 assists per game

Must-watch this week

This weekend, No. 4 UConn (3-0) will travel to Columbus to take on the new-look Ohio State Buckeyes (2-1) who have added the No. 3 recruiting class in the country and exceeded expectations last year with a 10-8 record in the Big Ten. You can catch that game on Sunday at 3 p.m. on ESPN.