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Rick Nixon | | November 25, 2014

Starting five

Chastity Gooch, Western Kentucky, 6-0 Senior Forward
Gooch led Western Kentucky to a 3-1 first week and to the finals of the 2014 Preseason Women's NIT Tournament, earning all-tournament honors after averaging 21.3 points and 10.3 rebounds in three contests last week. Gooch, a senior and preseason Conference USA Player of the Year, shot 49.0 percent from the field and converted on 13 of 16 free throw attempts while grabbing eight steals and five blocks in the WNIT. Gooch also reached the 1,400 mark in career points during the contest against Mississippi State, moving her into 15th place on the Hilltoppers’ career scoring list. Western Kentucky opened the season with a win against Central Arkansas and then scored WNIT wins at Colorado, at home versus Albany, before losing at Mississippi State.

Danaejah Grant, St. John’s (N.Y.), 5-9 Junior Guard
St. John’s tipped off the season with wins against Yale (61-50) and Florida (72-66) as Grant averaged 28.0 points per game in the two wins. In the victory versus Florida, Grant scored 26 points and teamed with backcourt mate Aliyyah Handford (27 points) for 53 of the Red Storm’s 72 points. Grant had 30 points in the Yale victory. For the week, Grant shot 21 of 42 (50 percent) from the floor while pulling down 10 rebounds and dishing out seven assists.

Kelsey Plum, Washington, 5-8 Sophomore Guard
Last season's Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, Plum, is off to a great start to her sophomore season. She averaged 36.7 points per game in three games over the past week, including a career-high 45 points in a 90-80 loss at Oklahoma on Nov. 14. Plum totaled 37 points in a win against South Dakota (96-82) and 28 in a 81-51 win versus Yale. For the week she connected on 50.8 percent from the field, was 9 of 18 beyond the three-point line, and was 37 of 41 (90.2 percent) at the free throw line. She also pulled down 12 rebounds. Next up for Plum and Huskies is a Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 27) game against Florida State in Cancun, Mexico.

Lili Thompson, Stanford, 5-7 Sophomore Guard
While Stanford experienced both ends of the win-loss spectrum in week one, Thompson had three outstanding games and gave Stanford fans hope in the post- Nneka Ogwumike era.  She averaged 26.0 points and 3.7 rebounds per game as the Cardinal went 2-1 for the week.  After opening the season with 26 points in a 96-63 win against Boston College, Thompson scored 24 points as Stanford ended UConn’s winning streak at 47 games with an 88-86 in overtime win on Nov. 17.  She followed with a 28-point effort against Texas, even though the Longhorns prevailed 87-81 in overtime on Nov. 20, ending Stanford’s 28-game home winning streak at Maples Pavilion. Thompson is the first Cardinal guard since Candice Wiggins' senior season in 2008 to have back-to-back 20-point games.

Ashley Williams, Alabama, 6-0 Sophomore Forward
Williams averaged 21.3 points and 8.3 rebounds in four games for the Crimson Tide last week, with Alabama scoring three wins against Kansas, Georgetown and Temple at the Hall of Fame Women’s Challenge. Alabama opened the season losing to Jacksonville State by two at home, with Williams totaling a career-high 26 points. She scored 20 or more points in three of the four games while recording her second double-double of the season and seventh of her career with 20 points and 11 rebounds in the win against Temple (58-51). Williams shot 72.1 percent from the floor for the week.

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