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:
Tyra Buss, Indiana, So., Guard
Indiana sophomore guard Tyra Buss averaged 20.5 points, 6.0 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals per game as the Hoosiers split a pair of games against Michigan State and Minnesota. Buss helped guide the Hoosiers over No. 18 Michigan State on Jan. 13, leading the team with 24 points while shooting 5-of-10 from the field, 2-of-4 from 3-point range and 12-of-17 from the free throw line. She also added four assists, three steals and four boards against the Spartans. The win gave Indiana its second victory over a ranked opponent this season, a program first since 2009-10. At Minnesota on Sunday, Buss tied for the team lead with 17 points and a career-high tying eight assists in a 78-76 loss. She also had five rebounds and two steals. Buss has scored in double figures in every game this season and in 22-straight games dating back to last year, the longest such streak for an Indiana player since Quacy Barnes scored in double digits in 37-consecutive contests to end the 1996-97 season and to start 1997-98. The Mt. Carmel, Ill., native leads Indiana in per game scoring (18.8), assists (4.1) and steals (1.9). Buss currently leads the Big Ten and ranks fourth nationally in free throws made (118) and attempted (154) as she shoots 76.6 percent from the charity stripe. Indiana next hosts Illinois on Jan. 20.
Alexis Jones, Baylor, Jr., Guard
Baylor moved back atop the Big 12 Conference standings as Alexis Jones averaged 24.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.5 steals in leading the No. 6 Lady Bears to wins over West Virginia and at No. 4 Texas. She shot 53.1 percent from the floor, including 50 percent from 3-point range, and 73.3 percent from the free throw line. Jones, a 5-9 transfer from Duke, scored 20 points against West Virginia along with five rebounds, three assists and three steals while hitting 3-of-4 treys. At Texas, the junior guard led the team in scoring (29), rebounding (7) and assists (3), was 10-of-19 from the floor and hit all eight of her free throws. Over the past five games, Jones has averaged 19.2 points. She leads the team and ranks second in the Big 12 in scoring in league games at 16.8 a contest. Baylor will return to action on Jan. 23 at Iowa State.
Shereesha Richards, Albany, Sr., Forward
Albany improved to 15-3 overall and remained in a tie for first place in the America East Conference behind the strong interior play of Shereesha Richards, who averaged a conference-high 25.0 points to go along with 10.6 rebounds per game in a 3-0 week for the Great Danes. She scored 26 points on 11-15 shooting and grabbed 10 rebounds in 26 minutes in a 78-52 win over New Hampshire. She then posted 34 points on 13-23 shooting while adding nine rebounds and four steals in a 64-59 win over Maine. Richards, who came into the Binghamton game on Monday averaging a conference-best 24.6 points, finished with 15 points and 13 rebounds as Albany won 59-47. Albany is shooting 49.0% from the floor this year, the sixth-best percentage in the country. Richards recently became just the ninth player in America East women’s basketball history and the first since 2000 to score 2,000 career points. The Great Danes are 64-5 in league play since 2011-12 and will next host Stony Brook on Jan. 21 in a battle for first place in the America East. Both teams come in at 5-0.
Nicole Seekamp, South Dakota, Sr., Guard
South Dakota guard Nicole Seekamp guided the Coyotes to a pair of road wins while averaging 24 points, 8.5 assists, four rebounds, and 2.5 steals. She shot 54.8 percent (17-of-31) from the field, 50 percent (4-of-8) from behind the arc and 76.9 percent (10-of-13) at the line as South Dakota won 96-94 in two overtimes at North Dakota State and 63-58 over rival South Dakota State. Seekamp recorded a double-double with 25 points and 10 assists, while adding four rebounds and four steals in the North Dakota State game. She scored a field goal at the end of regulation against the Bison to send the game to overtime and then recorded a steal with one second remaining in the second overtime period to secure the win. Seekamp then scored the final seven points in 54 seconds to lead the Coyotes to their first win, 63-58, at South Dakota State’s Frost Arena since 1990. She recorded 23 points, including 19 second-half points, with seven assists and four rebounds. The Renmark, South Australia, native is the only player in the nation averaging 16 points, six assists, and three steals per game. South Dakota next hosts Fort Wayne on Jan. 22.
Réjane Verin, UC Riverside, Jr., Forward
UC Riverside junior Réjane Verin was instrumental in two huge road wins, averaging 22.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists as the Highlanders handled two programs expected to contend for the Big West Conference regular season crown. In a 78-60 victory against Long Beach State on Jan. 13, Verin filled the stat sheet, erupting for a career-high 34 points on 14-of-22 shooting. She added 10 rebounds for her fourth double-double of the season. She pumped in 20 points in the first half to stake the Highlanders to a 17-point halftime lead. The 6-1 forward just missed on a second consecutive double-double, contributing 11 points and nine rebounds to help Riverside edge Hawai‘i, 77-74, on Saturday. It was Riverside’s first win in eight tries all-time against the Rainbow Wahine. Verin added four assists, two steals and two blocks to help the Highlanders improve to 4-0 in Big West play and extend its winning streak to five overall. She hit two key fourth quarter free throws with 15 seconds remaining to stretch the UC Riverside lead to 75-71. For the week, Verin shot 54.5 (18-for-33) percent from the field. UC Riverside will next host UC Santa Barbara on Jan. 23.
Notes of the Week:
• Missouri State became the 35th NCAA Division I women’s basketball program to win 800 games in its history on Friday with a 55-44 victory at Bradley. The Lady Bears lead all Missouri Valley Conference teams in terms of total victories (801), and passed St. Joseph’s for 34th place with a win on Sunday.
• Navy tied an NCAA record by playing in its sixth overtime game of the season on Saturday, a 65-58 win over Lafayette. Wisconsin played in six overtime games in 1998-99. The Mids improved to 3-3 this season in games decided in overtime.