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Around the NCAAW Weekly: Early-season upsets continue, highlighted by (another) Kansas State win over Iowa

Upsets and near upsets continue to characterize the early days of the 2023-24 women’s college basketball season. Kansas State scored the week’s biggest win, taking down the Iowa Hawkeyes for a second-straight season.

Kansas State v Iowa
For the second-straight season, the Kansas State Wildcats have upset the Iowa Hawkeyes.
Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images

The on-court upsets continued and off-court drama increased during the second week of the 2023-24 season. Catch up on the memorable moments and notable developments from Monday, Nov. 13 through Sunday, Nov. 19 before feasting on a buffet of Thanksgiving ball in the coming week.

And be sure to tune into the Battle 4 Atlantis championship game on Monday at 12 p.m. ET (ESPN 2), when the No. 23 Ole Miss Rebels meet the Michigan Wolverines.

Top five teams continue to tumble

Through a mere 14 days of the 2023-24 season, four of the five teams ranked in the top five to begin the season have suffered a defeat.

The lone survivor is the now-No. 3 UCLA Bruins, who toughed out a home test from the Princeton Tigers on Thursday. The Bruins’ unblemished record might not last much longer, as they next face a now-No. 8 UConn Husky team that appears highly-motivated after their loss to the now-No. 14 NC State Wolfpack.

Here are the latest upsets worth rewinding, beginning with the Kansas State Wildcats giving the No. 2 Iowa Hawkeyes an L for the second-straight season:

Kansas State Wildcats 65, No. 2 Iowa Hawkeyes 58

While our Iowa expert Zachary Draves will provide the Hawkeye perspective, let’s make sure to celebrate the Wildcats’ accomplishment.

For the second-straight season, K-State scraped their way to a win over Iowa. This time, it was on the Hawkeyes’ home turf. Head coach Jeff Mittie did not hesitate to crown it as the biggest win during his decade in charge at K-State, saying, “I don’t think there’s any question. On the road, in front of a sellout crowd, I mean, this is a team that played in the national championship game.”

The Wildcats held the usually high-flying Hawkeyes in check by effectively disrupting the shotmaking and playmaking rhythm of Caitlin Clark, not only inducing her into a poor shooting performance but also limiting her to just three assists. On the other end, star senior big Ayoka Lee carried the majority of the scoring burden, using her superior size to score a team-high 22 points. Redshirt freshman guard Zyanna Walker, who transferred to K-State from Louisville, provided an off-the-bench spark with 12 points. Down the stretch, grad guard Gabby Gregory came up clutch, swishing a midrange dagger with approximately 30 seconds remaining.

No. 21 Baylor Lady Bears 84, No. 4 Utah Utes 77

On Tuesday, Baylor let the women’s hoops world know that they will be heard from this season. As head coach Nick Collen said of her team after the game, “I love the confidence, and obviously we’ve talked about Final Four standards.”

The Lady Bears contained a high-scoring Utes team, winning each of the first three quarters before hanging on in the fourth. Senior guard Sarah Andrews served as the confident closer, scoring 12 of her team-high 18 points in the final frame. Baylor otherwise enjoyed contributions from across the roster. Grad forward Dre’Una Edwards contributed 14 points and six boards, while grad wing Aijha Blackwell added 13 points and eight boards. Off the bench, sophomore Bella Fontleroy chipped in a pair of 3s and 12 points.

While senior forward Alissa Pili led Utah with 22 points, the Utes struggled from behind the arc, hitting only 25 percent of their 24 3-point attempts.

North Carolina A&T 56, Wake Forest 51

A subpar third quarter sunk NC A&T’s upset hopes in their season opener at Georgia; on Wednesday, the Aggies made sure to finish the job at Wake Forest. It’s the Aggies’ second win over a Power 5 team under head coach Tarrell Robinson.

With the contest knotted at the half, NC A&T seized momentum out of the break, scoring the first 14 points of the second half. When the Demon Deacons threatened in the fourth, the Aggies maintained composure, coming up with clutch plays in critical moments to situate themselves to seal the win. One such play occurred when senior guard Maleia Bracone navigated the Wake defense before finding redshirt sophomore center Chaniya Clark for the bucket—and the foul. Clark converted the free throw, giving NC A&T a six-point edge with less than a minute remaining.

Bracone led the Aggies with a 16-point and 10-rebound double-double. Clark and senior guard D’Mya Tucker each added 10 points.

Green Bay Phoenix 65, No. 22 Creighton Blue Jays 53

Start strong, end strong and survive in between. That was the recipe for Green Bay’s upset of Creighton on Thursday evening. Propelled by a 22-9 first-quarter advantage and 10-2 finish, the Phoenix bettered a top 25 team for the first time since 2019. Junior wing Maddy Schreiber led Green Bay with 14 points and five rebounds. Junior guard Callie Genke added 11 points and redshirt junior guard Cassie Schlitz contributed 10 points and four assists.

Both teams hit six 3-pointers. But while the Phoenix were a very-judicious and highly-efficient 6-for-12 from downtown, the Blue Jays’ six makes came on 26 attempts. For Creighton, senior guard Lauren Jensen, senior forward Emma Ronsiek, senior forward Morgan Maly and senior guard Molly Mogensen, all of whom shoot better than 36 percent from 3 for their careers, combined for four 3-pointers—one each—on 20 total attempts.

Davidson Wildcats 69, Duke Blue Devils 62

After nearly knocking off No. 17 UNC last Sunday, Davidson did the deed against Duke on Thursday.

As in Green Bay’s victory over Creighton, the 3-ball was a factor. The Wildcats went a fiery 9-for-18 from behind the arc, while the Blue Devils were a frigid 2-for-13. Senior forward Elle Sutphin and sophomore guard Charlise Dunn both made three triples. Sutphin, who scored the 1,000th-point of her career on Thursday, led the Wildcats with 19 points. Senior guard Suzi-Rose Deegan had 18 points, while Dunn added 15 points off the bench. A 24-point second quarter also proved pivotal for Davidson, giving them 39-27 advantage that allowed them to hang on for the win.

Eye-popping efforts

With Thanksgiving fast approaching, some of the best guards in college hoops are ready with their dishes. On Thursday, Virginia Tech senior Georgia Amoore tallied a program-record 16 assists in the Hokies’ record win over Houston Christian. Down in South Carolina, the Gamecocks’ sophomore Raven Johnson did her one better, dropping 17 dimes in a rout of Clemson. Johnson also joined Courtney Vandersloot and Chelsea Gray as the only players to total at least five points, five rebounds, five steals and 15 assists against a Power 5 opponent. Elite company!

Currently, Johnson and Northwestern’s Caroline Lau lead the nation with 10.7 assists per game. Iowa’s Caitlin Clark is the nation’s leading scorer, with 31 points per game. BYU’s Lauren Gustin currently can claim to be the nation’s best rebounder, grabbing 16.5 boards per game. South Carolina’s Ashlyn Watkins is swatting a nation-leading 4.3 blocks per game. When it comes to steals, it’s all Hannah Hidalgo! The Notre Dame freshman has racked up 24 steals in the Fighting Irish’s most recent three games, contributing to her average of 6.8 steals per game.

Other freshmen also are continuing to gobble up some impressive stats over the early days of their college careers. While USC’s JuJu Watkins keeps putting up 30 pieces out in LA, LSU’s Mikaylah Williams got buckets (and buckets) in the Bayou, finishing with 42 points last Tuesday.

Last year’s freshman sensation—FSU’s Ta’Niya Latson—showed that no sophomore slump is in store, as she scored a career-high 35 points, with 17 coming in the fourth quarter, to help the No. 12 Seminoles stave off an upset bid from their in-state rivals, the Floria Gators, on Friday.

On Sunday afternoon, No. 6 Stanford survived a threat from Duke behind the frontcourt tandem of senior Cameron Brink and junior Kiki Iriafen. Brink scored a career-high 29 points, while adding 11 boards and six blocks. A plus-22 in the Cardinal’s three-point overtime win, Brink also extended her streak of made free throws to 72, including draining the pair that extended to game to overtime. Iriafen nearly matched her teammate’s production, scoring 27 points and grabbing nine rebounds.

Milestones and all-time marks

Across the women’s college hoops landscape, the ball is popping, the 3-balls are flying and the points are pouring in. Shout out to these players and programs for establishing new statistical benchmarks:

A look ahead

Get ready to load your plates with tons of Thanksgiving week hoops!

There’s plenty of fare to feast on, with a number top 25 teams taking the courts in tournaments in sunny locales. (Note the possibility of a Kansas State-Iowa rematch in the Gulf Coast Showcase championship game.) We’ll have you ready for all the action with forthcoming previews.

Baha Mar Pink Flamingo Championship (Nassau, Bahamas)

Monday, Nov. 20

Georgia Lady Bulldogs vs. Columbia Lions (11 a.m. ET, FloHoops)

East Carolina Pirates vs. No. 15 Ohio State Buckeyes (1:30 p.m. ET, FloHoops)

Florida Gators vs. Purdue Boilermakers (4 p.m. ET, FloHoops)

Oklahoma State Cowgirls vs. Penn State Nittany Lions (6:30 p.m. ET, FloHoops)

No. 8 USC Trojans vs. Seton Hall Pirates (9 p.m. ET, FloHoops)

Wednesday, Nov. 22

Seton Hall Pirates vs. East Carolina Pirates (11 a.m. ET, FloHoops)

Columbia Lions vs. Florida Gators (1:30 p.m. ET, FloHoops)

Purdue Boilermakers vs. Georgia Lady Bulldogs (4 p.m. ET, FloHoops)

No. 15 Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Oklahoma State Cowgirls (6:30 p.m. ET, FloHoops)

Penn State Nittany Lions vs. No. 8 USC Trojans (9 p.m. ET, FloHoops)

Ball Dawgs Classic (Las Vegas, NV)

Wednesday, Nov. 22

No. 13 Florida State Seminoles vs. Northwestern Wildcats (2 p.m. ET, FloHoops)

No. 4 Stanford Cardinal vs. Belmont Bruins (4:30 p.m. ET, FloHoops)

Friday, Nov. 24

Championship game (9:30 p.m. ET, FloHoops)

Consolation game (30 minutes after championship game conclusion, FloHoops)

Cancun Challenge (Cancun, Mexico)

Thursday, Nov. 23

Maryland Terrapins vs. No. 23 Washington State Cougars (11 a.m. ET, FloHoops)

UMass Minutewomen vs. Green Bay Phoenix (1:30 p.m. ET, FloHoops)

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets vs. Creighton Blue Jays (4 p.m. ET, FloHoops)

Michigan State Spartans vs. James Madison Dukes (6:30 p.m. ET, FloHoops)

Montana State Bobcats vs. New Mexico Lobos (9 p.m. ET, FloHoops)

Friday, Nov. 24

No. 23 Washington State Cougars vs. UMass Minutewomen (11 a.m. ET, FloHoops)

Green Bay Phoenix vs. Maryland Terrapins (1:30 p.m. ET, FloHoops)

Creighton Blue Jays vs. Michigan State Spartans (4 p.m. ET, FloHoops)

New Mexico Lobos vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (6:30 p.m., FloHoops)

James Madison Dukes vs. Montana State Bobcats (9 p.m. ET, FloHoops)

Saturday, Nov. 25

UMass Minutewomen vs. Maryland Terrapins (11 a.m. ET, FloHoops)

Washington State Cougars vs. Green Bay Phoenix (1:30 p.m. ET, FloHoops)

Paradise Jam (St. Thomas, Virgin Islands)

Thursday, Nov. 23

Cincinnati Bearcats vs. No. 3 Colorado Buffaloes (1 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

Kentucky Wildcats vs. No. 10 NC State Wolfpack (3:15 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

High Point Panthers vs. South Florida Bulls (5:45 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

Arizona State Sun Devils vs. No. 12 Texas Longhorns (8 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

Friday, Nov. 24

Kentucky Wildcats vs. No. 3 Colorado Buffaloes (1 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

Cincinnati Bearcats vs. No. 10 NC State Wolfpack (3:15 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

Arizona State Sun Devils vs. South Florida Bulls (5:45 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

High Point Panthers vs. No. 12 Texas Longhorns (8 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

Saturday, Nov. 25

No. 3 Colorado Buffaloes vs. No. 10 NC State Wolfpack (1 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

Cincinnati Bearcats vs. Kentucky Wildcats (3:15 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

High Point Panthers vs. Arizona State Sun Devils (6:45 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

South Florida Bulls vs. No. 12 Texas Longhorns (8 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

Fort Myers Tip-Off (Fort Myers, FL)

Thursday, Nov. 23

No. 22 Oklahoma Sooners vs. Princeton Tigers (3 p.m. ET)

No. 19 Tennessee Lady Vols vs. No. 21 Indiana Hoosiers (6 p.m. ET, FOX)

Friday, Nov. 24

Wisconsin Badgers vs. Arkansas Razorbacks (2 p.m. ET)

Boston College Eagles vs. Marquette Golden Eagles (4:30 p.m. ET)

Saturday, Nov. 25

No. 21 Indiana Hoosiers vs. Princeton Tigers (11 a.m. ET)

No. 19 Tennessee Lady Vols vs. No. 25 Oklahoma Sooners (1:30 p.m. ET)

Wisconsin/Arkansas winner vs. Boston College/Marquette winner (5 p.m. ET)

Wisconsin/Arkansas loser vs. Boston College/Marquette loser (7:30 p.m. ET)

Cayman Islands Classic (George Town, Cayman Islands)

Friday, Nov. 24

Virginia Cavaliers vs. Tulane Green Wave (11 a.m. ET, FloHoops)

No. 7 LSU Lady Tigers vs. Niagara Purple Eagles (1:30 p.m. ET, FloHoops)

No. 9 Virginia Tech Hokies vs. Kansas Jayhawks (5 p.m. ET, FloHoops)

No. 6 UConn Huskies vs. No. 2 UCLA Bruins (7:30 p.m. ET, FloHoops)

Saturday, Nov. 25

No. 9 Virginia Tech Hokies vs. Tulane Green Wave (11 a.m. ET, FloHoops)

No. 2 UCLA Bruins vs. Niagara Purple Eagles (1:30 p.m. ET, FloHoops)

No. 7 LSU Lady Tigers vs. Virginia Cavaliers (5 p.m. ET, FloHoops)

No. 6 UConn Huskies vs. Kansas Jayhawks (7:30 p.m. ET, FloHoops)

Gulf Coast Showcase (Estero, FL)

Friday, Nov. 24

Kansas State Wildcats vs. Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (11 a.m. ET, FloHoops)

No. 18 UNC Tarheels vs. Vermont Catamounts (1:30 p.m. ET, FloHoops)

FGCU Eagles vs. Delaware Blue Hens (5 p.m. ET, FloHoops)

No. 5 Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Purdue Fort Wayne Mastodons (7:30 p.m. ET, FloHoops)

Saturday, Nov. 25

Kansas State/Western Kentucky winner vs. UNC/Vermont winner (5 p.m. ET, FloHoops)

FGCU/Delaware winner vs. Iowa/Purdue Fort Wayne winner (7:30 p.m. ET, FloHoops)

Sunday, Nov. 26

Championship game (7:30 p.m. ET, FloHoops)