Women's basketball: Aerial Powers leads Starting Five
Every week, NCAA.com's Starting Five will bring you a look at some of the top women's basketball players in the country. Here are this week's standout competitors:
Deijah Blanks, Utah Valley, So., Guard
Deijah Blanks averaged 21 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game as Utah Valley moved into a four-way tie for second-place in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) standings. Blanks, a sophomore from San Diego, Calif., had a perfect night from the floor on Feb. 18 against Chicago State, going 10-for-10 from the field and 7-for-7 on free throws en route to 29 points and 10 rebounds in a 69-62 win over the Cougars. Blanks' perfect shooting night gave her the Utah Valley school record for an individual player's field goal percentage with 100 percent with a minimum of 10 field goals made. The previous school record in field goal percentage was set by All-American Robyn Fairbanks (2006-09) with a 10-of-11 shooting night. With the perfect shooting night, Blanks became just the fourth NCAA Division I player this season to be perfect with 10 or more shots made. She followed that up with a 5-for-7 game at Missouri-Kansas City, scoring 13 points to help Utah Valley get the 58-44 win. Utah Valley, 14-13 overall and 7-5 in WAC play, will return to play Feb. 27 at home against Seattle.
Tiaria Griffin, Georgia, Sr., Guard
Georgia is surging behind the play of senior guard Tiaria Griffin, who averaged 26.0 points and 8.0 rebounds per game as the Bulldogs split a pair of games against two ranked opponents - South Carolina and Florida. Griffin turned in a career-high 28-point, eight-rebound effort in a 64-53 win over Florida on Sunday. The senior drained six 3-pointers in a row in the second half, scoring 22 of her 28 points in the final 20 minutes. Against No. 3 South Carolina last Thursday, Griffin finished one point shy of her then-career-high with 24 points. She hit two key 3-pointers against the Gamecocks that helped Georgia climb to within five points —50-45 — with 2:29 remaining in the game, before falling 61-51. Griffin currently leads all Southeastern Conference (SEC) players in 3-point field goals made this season with 69 and is also the active career leader in the conference in 3-point baskets made with 215. Georgia, 20-12 overall and 7-9 in SEC play, have won six of their last seven games. They next return home to host Arkansas on Feb. 25.
Jackie Kemph, St. Louis, So., Guard
Jackie Kemph filled the stat sheet over the past week, averaging 19.7 points, 11 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 1.7 steals in leading Saint Louis to Atlantic-10 Conference victories over Davidson, Duquesne and Fordham. Kemph shot 50 percent (18-of-36) from the field and 91.3 percent (21-of-23) from the free throw line, while registering a 3.67-to-1 assist-turnover ratio. The sophomore guard began the week by recording a game-high-tying 19 points, a career-high-tying 14 assists, three rebounds and two steals in an 88-51 win over Davidson. She followed with her fifth double-double of the season, a 19-point, 13-assist performance, as the Billikens toppled A-10 leader Duquesne 84-81. Kemph sank a career-high 10 free throws (10-of-12) and added four rebounds and two steals against the Dukes. She concluded the week in dramatic fashion, scoring with 2.2 seconds to play to lift Saint Louis to a 51-49 victory at Fordham. The game-winning bucket was part of a game-high 21-point effort (9-of-17 field goals). Kemph also had a game-high six assists, four rebounds and a steal against the Rams. In the Duquesne game, Kemph set the Saint Louis single-season assists record. Entering the final week of the regular season, Saint Louis (21-6, 11-3 A-10) is in a three-way tie for second place. The Billikens, who have set program records for total wins and conference wins and tied the program mark for road victories (nine), next play at Dayton on Feb. 24.
Aerial Powers, Michigan State, Jr., Forward
In one of the highlight games of the season on Sunday, Aerial Powers scored 40 points as Michigan State withstood a 52-point barrage by Minnesota sensation Rachel Banham in scoring a 114-106 victory. With the career-high 40 points, Powers became only the second Spartan in program history to record 40 points in a game. She also dished out eight assists in the victory over the Gophers. On Feb. 18, Powers had 27 points and grabbed 14 rebounds in a 70-67 comeback win at Rutgers. Against Rutgers, Powers connected on 15 of 17 free throws. With her double-double she tied Mary Kay Intyre with 42 career double-doubles, the most ever at Michigan State. The junior forward has now led Michigan State in scoring the last 11 games. Powers and the Spartans, 20-7 overall and 11-5 in Big Ten Conference play, conclude the regular season this week, traveling to Illinois on Feb. 24 before ending the regular season by hosting No. 5 Ohio State on Saturday, Feb. 26.
Mooriah Rowser, Memphis, Jr., Guard
Playing the role of “Iron-Woman” last week, Memphis guard Mooriah Rowser saw action in 100 minutes in two games, including an NCAA Division I record 64 minutes in a five-overtime victory over Temple as the Tigers went 1-1. The victory was a thrilling NCAA-record tying five-overtime 100-97 win over Temple on Feb. 18 in which Rowser had 21 points, three rebounds, three assists and three steals. The Tigers then put together a solid effort on Feb. 21, before dropping a 97-82 road decision at nationally-ranked South Florida. For the week, Rowser averaged 22.5 points, 2.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.5 steals in the two contests. She averaged 50 minutes played per game, seeing action in 100 of a possible 105 minutes in last week's two contests (64 minutes versus Temple; 36 versus USF). Rowser followed her record-setting game against Temple with one of her best shooting performances of the season versus USF, scoring a game-high tying 24 points on 10-of-17 shooting from the field (58.8 percent) and 4-of-8 from the three-point arc (50 percent). She also had two boards and two assists. Memphis, 16-11 overall and 10-6 in the American Athletic Conference, returns to action on Feb. 27 when it hosts East Carolina.