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:
California freshman sensation Kristine Anigwe continues to make a statement as one of the nation’s top newcomers. A week following her record 43-point outburst in a win over Sacramento State, Anigwe was at it once again in leading the Golden Bears to an 87-80 overtime win over Nebraska on Dec. 12. Anigwe totaled 29 points and pulled down 13 rebounds for her third consecutive double-double. She scored five overtime points including three free throws down the stretch to help secure the victory for Cal, which improved to 7-2 with the victory. Anigwe leads the Golden Bears in both scoring (21.0 ppg) and rebounding (9.3 rpg) this season. Cal returns to action at home on Dec. 21 versus UCLA in the first Pac-12 Conference of the season.
Named Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Week, Notre Dame graduate student guard Madison Cable averaged 18.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 1.5 blocks per game in Notre Dame’s two wins last week over DePaul and TCU. The Mt. Lebanon, Penn., native chalked up her second double-double of the season with game highs of 21 points and 10 rebounds in the 95-90 win over DePaul. In the victory, Cable tied her career high with five three-pointers (on eight attempts) and added a season-high two blocks. Cable then collected 16 points on 7-of-12 shooting and chipped in two steals and two assists in a Saturday win (88-72) on the road at TCU. Cable also drew two charges in the contest, raising her career total to 43. Notre Dame, which improved to 9-1 with this wins last week over DePaul and TCU, will next travel to Philadelphia to take on Saint Joseph’s on Dec. 21.
The espnW National Player of the Week after her strong performances in Kentucky’s wins over in-state rival Louisville and Middle Tennessee State, Makayla Epps has helped lead the Wildcats to 9-0 start to the season. Epps started her impressive week against in-state rival Louisville at Rupp Arena, scoring a season-high 24 points on 10-of-11 shooting from the field to post the highest field goal percentage for a Kentucky player with at least 10 attempts since 1987. The junior added four rebounds, four assists and three steals in the game. Epps continued her strong play a few days later at Middle Tennessee State, posting 17 points on 8-of-13 shooting with four assists and three steals in the 68-52 victory. She currently leads the No. 8 Wildcats in scoring, averaging 17.3 points per contest and dishing out an average of 6.4 assists per game, which ranks 10th in the nation. Epps also holds the 13th-best assist to turnover ratio in the NCAA, with 51 assists and 16 turnovers for a ratio of +3.2. Entering the weekend, Epps was one of just eight players in the NCAA this year to have recorded a triple-double, and is just the second Wildcat in program history to accomplish the feat. Kentucky will be looking to keep its undefeated season alive when hosting Duke on Dec. 20.
Named Big East Conference Player of the Week, Megan Podkowa turned in a pair of dominating performances against two of the nation's top-ranked teams. Starting Wednesday night at No. 3 Notre Dame, Podkowa helped the Blue Demons rally to get within two possessions by scoring 12 of her 14 points over the final two quarters as DePaul outscored the Irish 51-30 in the second half. The senior added six rebounds and three assists in the narrow 95-90 setback. At No. 15 Texas A&M on Saturday, Podkowa went for a season-high 20 points and career-best 18 rebounds as DePaul upended the Aggies on their home court, 80-66. The senior added three assists and two steals in the Blue Demons' first top-25 road win since March 24, 2014, at then-No. 9 Duke. On the season, Podkowa leads DePaul with a 13.9 scoring average and 7.8 rebounding average. The Blue Demons face another big week, with games at South Dakota State on Dec. 15 and Northwestern on Dec. 19.
Continuing to add to her legacy, UConn’s Breanna Stewart became the first player in NCAA history with 300 blocks and 300 assists during the week as top-ranked UConn prevailed over Colgate, 94-50 and Florida State, 73-49 to push its season record to 8-0. Stewart had 22 points and a career-high 10 assists in the win at Colgate in a homecoming to the area where she played her high school basketball in Syracuse, N.Y. She came back with 16 points, seven assists, six blocks and five steals as the Huskies prevailed over Florida State. Stewart now has 317 assists and 313 blocks during her distinguished career. Winners of 92 of the last 93 games, the Huskies will look to build upon their current winning streak of 45 games when they next host LSU on Dec. 21 in Hartford, Conn.