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:
Allazia Blockton, Marquette, Fr., Guard
Also named USBWA Women's National and Big East Conference Freshman of the Week, Marquette guard Allazia Blockton scored a career-high 25 points in a 101-81 win over Milwaukee on Dec. 22. She connected on 11-of-19 shots from the field and also pulled down seven rebounds. Blockton, who is averaging a team-high 17.5 points and 7.3 rebounds per game, is helping to lead a resurgence at Marquette, which went 9-22 last season. The Golden Eagles improved to 5-6 with the win over Milwaukee after earlier in the season scoring wins over Wisconsin and Auburn. This week Marquette will open Big East play on the road at DePaul on Dec. 29 and at Seton Hall on Jan. 3.
Miranda Drummond, St. Bonaventure, So., Forward
One of the early season surprises in the Atlantic 10 Conference, St. Bonaventure improved to 10-2 on the season as sophomore Miranda Drummond continued her strong early season play. Drummond led the Bonnies to their ninth straight win, 67-55, over Niagara on Dec. 23. Drummond netted a game-high 23 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the floor, sinking a career-high six three-pointers on the day. She also added six rebounds and an assist in 29 minutes of action. In her first season as a starter, Drummond is averaging 13.1 points and 5.1 rebounds per game while shooting over 49 percent from the floor. She also currently leads the Atlantic 10 in free throw percentage (84.4 percent) and ranks sixth in the league in three-point shooting (37.9 percent). Drummond has posted 20-or-more points in three of the last five games. St. Bonaventure will complete non-conference play on Dec. 29 with a trip to Canisius before opening conference play on Jan. 3 at Rhode Island.
Arnecia Hawkins, Arizona State, Sr., Guard
Senior guard Arnecia Hawkins came through with an outstanding performance Arizona State’s 68-56 upset of No. 10 Florida State on Dec. 21 and followed that up with a team-high 18 points in a 69-46 win over CSUN on Dec. 28. Hawkins scored a career-high 23 points while making all seven of her field goal attempts (including a trio of 3-pointers) against Florida State. Hawkins scored 15 of her 23 points over the last 12:23 of the game, including 13 in the fourth quarter. After the Seminoles cut Arizona State’s 11-point lead to five with 6:13 remaining, Hawkins hit a triple to extend the Sun Devils’ lead to eight. Her third and final 3-pointer of the game pushed Arizona State’s lead up to 12 with 4:28 remaining. In addition to her outstanding offensive contributions, Hawkins was also part of a defensive effort that helped hold the Seminoles 19.5 points below their scoring average. Currently on a six-game winning streak and winners of eight of their last nine games, the Sun Devils will open Pac-12 Conference play on Jan. 2 at home against California.
Taylor Johnson, Loyola, Jr., Guard
Junior guard Taylor Johnson filled the stat sheet in leading Loyola to wins over No. 16 DePaul and Rice. In the 88-75 upset win over DePaul on Dec. 21, Johnson poured in 20 of her season-high 24 points in the second half, leading all scorers. Johnson, finished 10-of-14 from the field to help lead the Ramblers to only their second win over a ranked opponent in program history. She also dished out eight assists in the win, two off of her career high in the category, to go along with four rebounds, a block and three steals. The Ramblers followed up with a 57-51 win over Rice on Dec. 28. Johnson had 12 points and seven rebounds and during the game became the 23rd player in program history to reach the 1,000-point mark for her career. Loyola next opens Missouri Valley Conference play on Jan. 3 at Bradley.
Courtney Walker, Texas A&M, Sr., Guard
Exacting some revenge against Little Rock, Courtney Walker had a career-high 29 points in leading the Aggies to a 69-39 win over the Trojans, who knocked A&M out of the 2015 NCAA Tournament. Walker had 12 of the Aggies’ 15 first quarter points, helping A&M to a 15-6 lead after the first frame. It was the fourth 20-plus point game for Walker this season, and the 23rd of her career. She has scored 10-or-more points in every game but one this season, where she scored just nine. Walker went 10-of-11 from the field, marking the second-best 10 field goal performance in A&M history, behind Danielle Gant’s 10-of-10 performance at Missouri in 2008-09. She also connected on 9-for-10 from the free throw line. Walker now ranks fifth in career points at Texas A&M and is the all-time leader in free throw percentage. After playing Prairie View on Dec. 29, Texas A&M will open Southeastern Conference play on Jan. 3 against Georgia.