The past week has proven costly on the injury front for several championship contenders who will be forced to shorten their rotation or have their regulars log additional minutes in upcoming games.

• Connecticut backup point guard Brianna Banks suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her right leg on Saturday in a road win against St. John’s and will miss the rest of the season. A sophomore, Banks had been averaging 7.3 points and 1.7 assists while shooting 47.9 percent from the field in 17 minutes of playing time per game.

In Banks' absence, the Huskies will play freshman Moriah Jefferson, who will back up starting guards Bria Hartley and Caroline Doty.

• A similar ACL injury felled Kansas guard Natalie Knight last Thursday in an overtime win against Iowa State. A two-year starter for the Jayhawks, Knight was averaging 8.3 points per game. In the game against Iowa State she had recorded a career-high 21 points before her injury that occurred with less than two minutes remaining in regulation.

The loss of Knight has left Kansas with just nine players, with one of those being Angel Goodrich, who is playing after tearing the ACL in both of her knees earlier in her career.

• Tennessee is having to play through injuries suffered by two starters, Kamiko Williams and Isabelle Harrison. Williams, a 5-foot-11 senior guard is averaging 6.0 points per game while dishing out 60 assists. She suffered an ankle injury in the second half of Tennessee’s 80-63 loss at Missouri on Feb. 3.

Harrison, a 6-3 sophomore center, is averaging 10.0 points and 8.3 rebounds while blocking 55 shots for the Lady Vols. She is out with torn lateral meniscus in her left knee that required surgery last Friday. Her return to the Lady Vols' lineup is questionable.

With  Harrison out of the lineup, Tennessee will rely on the freshmen trio of Bashaara Graves, Jasmine Jones and Nia Moore to handle the post duties.

Grizzlies on the prowl in Big Sky

Winners of 11 of the past 12 games, the Montana Grizzlies are back on top of the Big Sky Conference standings. Montana has a one and half game lead against Northern Colorado, two games ahead of Montana State and Eastern Washington. Montana’s only loss during the past month was Jan. 19 at home against state rival Montana State.

Coached by the legendary Robin Selvig, Montana features an experienced team with four seniors, led by forward Katie Baker and guard Kenzie De Boer, with both averaging 13.9 points per game to lead the Griz.

Baker earned Big Sky Player of the Week honors last week as Montana scored home wins against Portland State and Eastern Washington. Baker had 37 points and 15 rebounds combined in the two victories.

Utah State moves ahead of Seattle in WAC

A sleeper for much of ther season, Utah State finds itself atop the Western Athletic Conference standings courtesy of a six-game winning streak.  The Aggies currently hold a one-game lead over Seattle.

Utah State features a balanced attack.  Senior guard Jenna Johnson was named the conference Player of the Week when she averaged 13.5 points and 11.5 rebounds per game last week as Utah State earned sole possession of first place with wins against Idaho and Seattle. She also averaged 4.5 assists, 3.0 steals and 2.5 blocks per game.

This is the second consecutive week that an Aggie had been honored; sophomore forward Franny Vaaulu was honored last week. Johnson is the third Utah State women's basketball to earn Player of the Week honors, as senior guard Devyn Christensen was honored in late December.

Pacific on rise out west

Winners of six in a row, the Pacific Tigers are a three-overtime loss away from reeling off 12 consecutive wins.  Pacific has a two-game lead in the Big West Conference standings against Cal Poly. Sitting at 18-3, Pacific’s three losses this season are to Florida, Stanford and Cal Poly (3OT).

The Tigers are led by sophomore center Kendall Kenyon, who was named the Big West Player of the Week as she ran her streak of double-doubles to five consecutive games against UC Irvine and Long Beach State. Kenyon tallied 19 rebounds and 16 points in Pacific's win against Long Beach, blocking three shots and adding a season-high four steals. On Thursday, she posted 12 points and 11 rebounds in just 19 minutes against UC Irvine.

Kenyon leads the Big West in field-goal percentage (.575) and rebounding (11.1), and ranks eighth in scoring (12.3). She is one of 39 players in the country averaging a double-double. Her 11 double-doubles this season rank 18th in the NCAA and her field-goal percentage is ninth. She also ranks 18th in the country in rebounding and in the top 50 in blocked shots.

Kenyon also is on pace to top the Tigers' single-season rebounding and blocked shots records.

WOMEN'S FINAL FOUR TICKETS

A select number of individual all-session tickets to the 2013 NCAA Women’s Final Four in New Orleans are currently available for purchase by logging on to www.ncaa.com/tickets.

All-session tickets will enable the ticket holder to watch the two national semifinal games on April 7, beginning at 5:30 p.m. CT, and the national championship game on April 9 that tips off at 7:30 p.m. CT. All games will be played at New Orleans Arena.

Notable

• Notre Dame improved to 21-1 on the season following a 59-52 victory against Villanova on Feb. 5.  The victory was the 700th career win in 31 seasons for Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw, including 26 years coaching Notre Dame.  McGraw has led Notre Dame to the 20-win mark for seven consecutive seasons and has surpassed the coveted mark 19 times in the past 20 seasons.

McGraw’s exploits continues a run of milestone wins for Big East Conference coaches. The conference has four active coaches with more than 600 wins: C. Vivian Stringer (898), Geno Auriemma (825), McGraw (700) and Harry Perretta (633).

• Congratulations to Stetson Hatters senior guard Shanasa Sanders, who surpassed 1,000 career points for her career with an 18-point, 11-rebound  double-double performance at Jacksonville on Feb. 4.

• When Indiana State plays host to Creighton on Friday, it’s possible that two players from different teams could reach 1,000 career points on the same night in the same game. Indiana State senior Taylor Whitley and Creighton junior Carli Tritz both enter this week with 981 career points, needing 19 more points apiece to become members of the 1,000-point club.