Around the NCAAW Weekly highlights the notable events of the week and, in this case, the weekend prior to last Monday. Check out the surprises, milestones and outstanding performances from Dec. 21 to Dec. 29:
Coming into this season there was no prohibitive favorite, though the Oregon Ducks were close to it. The amount of parity we have seen in the country so far exceeds what was expected. We are already on our third No. 1 team (the UConn Huskies) after Oregon and the Stanford Cardinal were both upset.
Elsewhere, Louisville has had some odd performances and scares, and the Maryland Terrapins had one against the James Madison Dukes. And nobody knows what to make of the Ohio State Buckeyes’ and Texas Longhorns’ ups and downs. The Buckeyes beat then-No. 2 Louisville, but have since lost by 16 to Purdue in their Big Ten opener to go along with their other four losses.
Meanwhile, the Longhorns were No. 15 to start the season then fell off the map before returning to No. 25 after they knocked Stanford off the top spot. Gonzaga also played well against the Cardinal (forcing them to overtime before losing) and that same Bulldogs team had to come back from down 20 to defeat an inferior team in the Portland Pilots on Dec. 29. It will be interesting to see how things play out from here.
Texas A&M’s offensive output
As teams ended non-conference play over the past week, Texas A&M put up 85 points on the A&M Corpus Christi Islanders. Oddly, that scoring total is the Aggies’ season-high despite having one fo the best offensive weapons in the nation in Chennedy Carter. The 5-foot-7 junior guard is averaging 22.8 points per game, but there’s a pretty big drop-off for the Aggies after her. Ciera Johnson is next with 12.9 points per game, followed by Kayla Wells with 12.8. Texas A&M’s fourth and fifth leading scorers (N’dea Jones and Aaliyah Wilson) are averaging just 8.0 and 5.8 points per game, respectively. But in the 85-point game, Wells had 17 points, Johnson had 16 and Jones had 13.
Chelsea Dungee (Arkansas Razorbacks)
Dungee, a redshirt junior, reached 1,000 career points by scoring 21 against the Little Rock Trojans on Dec. 21. She has made it to that milestone in 49 career games, which is quicker than any Razorback player before her.
Sabrina Ionescu (Oregon Ducks)
Ionescu notched back-to-back triple-doubles, a feat she has now accomplished three times in her career. The second triple-double came against the Kansas State Wildcats on Dec. 21. She had 21 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds in three quarters of action before sitting out the final frame.
Senior guard Amari Carter reached 1,000 points in a Wildcat win over the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos on Dec. 21. Arizona then defeated the Arizona State Sun Devils on Dec. 29, marking the first time in 19 years that it topped the Sun Devils in Tempe.
Florida State Seminoles
Someone not named Ionescu recored a triple-double on Dec. 22. It was Kiah Gillespie, a redshirt senior forward, and it was the first of her career — and only the third in program history. The Seminoles then won on Dec. 29, securing their first ever 13-0 start; in that game, Nicki Ekhomu notched the 300th assist of her career.
The Hoosiers had a 61.7 percent field goal percentage in their win over Michigan State on Dec. 28. That’s the fifth-highest percentage for a single game in program history.
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish had won 58 in a row at home in ACC play, but Clemson snapped that streak with a 71-55 win over the Irish on Dec. 29.
Games of the week
Texas Longhorns over Stanford Cardinal, 69-64
After a disappointing start to the season, Texas (7-4) came up big in this one against the then-No. 1 team in the nation. The Longhorns let a nine-point halftime lead slip away and entered the fourth quarter trailing by one. But Joyner Holmes made a heroic return from what looked like a serious leg injury suffered just 31 seconds into the final frame to lead Texas to victory.
Holmes subbed in with 5:32 to go and made two free throws with 1:38 to make it a one-possession game. She then put the exclamation mark on the win when she stole the ball from Stanford’s Alyssa Jerome and made an uncontested layup at the buzzer. Charli Collier led the Longhorns with 20 points and 19 rebounds. The Cardinal fell to 10-1.
Louisville Cardinals over Syracuse Orange, 62-58
A Bionca Dunham block prevented a Kiara Lewis layup with 14 seconds to go and all but sealed the deal in this one as the Cardinals (12-1) barely hung on to defeat the Orange. The game was close throughout, but Louisville’s six-point edge in the third quarter made the difference. Syracuse (6-6) held the duo of Dana Evans and Kylee Shook to just 12 points combined, but Jazmine Jones led the winners with 24 points.
Stony Brook Seawolves over Bucknell Bison, 78-73 (2OT)
A layup by Bucknell’s Taylor O’Brien with 37 seconds remaining sent this one to overtime after both teams missed shots in the final six seconds. Bucknell continued to save itself with an Abby Kapp three-pointer at the buzzer of the first overtime period, but Cheyenne Clark’s steal and fast break layup with 10 seconds to go in the second overtime put the game out of reach for the Bison. Clark finished with nine points and a game-high 16 rebounds for Stony Brook, which was led in scoring by Indian Pagan with 25 points. O’Brien scored 23 points in defeat. The Seawolves improved to 12-1, while the Bison fell to 7-4.
Other top performances
Madison Nelson: 31 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, five steals and three blocks for the Denver Pioneers in a win over the North Dakota State Bison last Sunday.
Olivia Nelson-Ododa: 27 points, 15 rebounds, three assists, one steal and seven blocks for UConn in a win over the Oklahoma Sooners on Dec. 22.
Lexi Gordon: 31 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and three blocks for the Texas Tech Red Raiders in a win over the UTSA Roadrunners last Sunday.
Kiara Lewis: 32 points, five rebounds, six assists and three steals for the Syracuse Orange in a loss to the West Virginia Mountaineers on Dec. 22.
Te’ja Twitty: 32 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and two blocks for the UNC Greensboro Spartans in a win over the High Point Panthers on Dec. 21.
Play of the week
Tyasha Harris made this 71-foot shot at the buzzer of the first quarter in the South Carolina Gamecocks’ win over the South Dakota Coyotes on Dec 22:
Hello, @SportsCenter?— GamecockWBB (@GamecockWBB) December 22, 2019
This is @TyHarris_52... I'd like to make an #SCTop10 submission. Please see below. #SCWomanUp #Gamecocks pic.twitter.com/xSmJPK010U
Best upcoming matchup
No. 13 Kentucky (11-1) vs. No. 4 South Carolina (12-1)
When: Thursday, Jan. 2 at 7 p.m. ET
Where: The Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, S.C.
How to watch/listen: SEC Network/Gamecock All-Access or UK Sports Network
No. 22 Tennessee (10-2) vs. No. 13 Kentucky (11-1)
When: Sunday, Jan. 5 at 4 p.m. ET
Where: Rupp Arena in Lexington, KY
How to watch/listen: ESPN2/UK Sports Network