Starting Five: NCAA women's basketball players of the week Dec. 9
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:
Jillian Alleyne, Oregon, Sr., Forward
After helping the Ducks to a pair of wins, senior Jillian Alleyne was named Pac-12 player of the week. Alleyne posted a pair of double-doubles in leading the Ducks to wins over San Jose State (104-74) and Utah Valley (79-68) at home. Averaging 24 points and 19.5 rebounds per game over the two contests, she has recorded a double-double in 23-consecutive games, besting her own Pac-12 record of 22 set between her sophomore and junior seasons. The Fontana, Calif., native was 12-for-17 for 26 points in the victory over San Jose State, also grabbing 20 rebounds for her ninth 20-rebound game of her career and her first of the season. She had 22 points and 19 boards in the win over Utah Valley, also adding three blocks. Alleyne shot 71.9 percent from the floor over the week as Oregon is off to a 7-0 start to the season, the team’s best since 2004-05. The Ducks return to action when they host Portland on Dec. 12.
Samantha DeFreese, Northeastern, Sr., Forward
Senior Samantha DeFreese had an extraordinary week for Northeastern, averaging 27.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and 36.0 minutes per game. The 6-0 forward put on one of the greatest shooting displays in program history, converting on 23 of her 28 attempts from the field en route to a two-game, field-goal percentage of 82.1 percent. Her 12-of-14 shooting mark on Dec. 2 against New Hampshire is tied as the ninth best single-game, field-goal percentage ever at Northeastern. She began the week by pouring in a career-high 29 points on 12-of-14 shooting and grabbing eight rebounds in the road win at New Hampshire. Two days later in the win against Maine, DeFreese went 11-of-14 from the floor and 3-for-3 from the charity stripe to finish with 25 points. She also had seven rebounds, two blocks and two steals against the Black Bears. For the season, DeFreese now leads the Colonial Athletic Association in scoring (18.3 points per game) and field goal percentage (.607) and is sixth in rebounding (8.9 rebounds per game). With her strong week, DeFreese moved up to 13th in the nation in field-goal percentage. Northeastern, 5-2, will next host Quinnipiac on Dec. 9.
Brea Edwards, Middle Tennessee, Sr., Guard/Forward
Middle Tennessee senior Brea Edwards turned in another monster week, averaging 21.0 points and 5.0 rebounds as the Blue Raiders scored wins at Austin Peay and Xavier. Edwards is among national leaders in four categories, including first in 3-point field goals per game (4.3) and first in 3-point field goals made (30), as well as 13th in scoring (21.9) and 16th in 3-point field goal percentage (.50.8). In the wins over Austin Peay and Xavier, Edwards knocked down 57 percent of her 3-point attempts, going 8-for-14 from beyond the arc. She was 5-for-6 against Austin Peay. Edwards' back-to-back third-quarter treys, including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter, helped spark the Blue Raiders against Xavier on Sunday. Edwards poured in 29 at Austin Peay and followed that with 13 against Xavier. She has scored double figures in all seven games and has connected on three of more 3-pointers in five of the seven games played. Middle Tennessee (4-3) will play next play host to No. 11 Kentucky (7-0) on Dec. 13.
Vanessa Panousis, Virginia Tech, Jr., Guard
National and Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Player of the Week by ESPNW and the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), respectively, Vanessa Panousis led the Hokies to two impressive non-conference road wins this week at Penn State and Tennessee. The 64-59 win over Penn State helped the ACC to tie the Big Ten in the 2015 Big Ten/ACC Challenge and retain the trophy. The Hokies followed that up with a historic win at No. 8 Tennessee, defeating the Lady Vols with a decisive 57-43 win in Knoxville, marking the first win over a top-10 team since 2012 for Virginia Tech. Panousis dropped in 16 points at Penn State despite playing just 25 minutes. She clinched the game for the Hokies in the final 30 seconds, going 4-of-4 from the free-throw line to seal the victory. Against the Lady Vols, Panousis shot 5-of-8 from outside the arc, connecting on 62.5 percent from long range, with three of her five 3-pointers coming in the second half to help spark the Tech offense. In addition, Panousis was again perfect from the line, going 6-of-6 in the final 1:10 as the Hokies closed out the game with a 13-0 run. Panousis and the rest of the 7-1 Hokies will be back on the court Wednesday, Dec. 9 hosting Morgan State.
A’ja Wilson, South Carolina, So., Forward
A member of the NCAA.com Starting Five for the second time this season, A’Ja Wilson scored a career-high 28 points, including 20 in the second half, as South Carolina defeated Duke, 66-55 before 16,429 fans Colonial Life Arena on Dec. 6. The Gamecocks lead the nation in attendance and have now won 37 in a row at home. Defensively, Wilson was matched up with Duke All-American Azura Stevens and her to just 11 points (average 19.8 entering the game), adding a blocked shot and a forced turnover on consecutive possessions of a two-point game with under five minutes to play to help the Gamecocks continue an 11-0 that delivered the win. She also posted 12 of the team’s 16 points in the third quarter, single-handedly erasing Duke leads three times in the period. Wilson shook off a slow start at the free throw line to hit 6-of-6 from the stripe when the game was in the balance in the third quarter. She completed her fifth double-double of the season, matching her season total from 2014-15. South Carolina improved to 8-0 with the win over Duke and next hosts Winthrop on Dec. 13.