Women's Basketball Players of the Week: Gonzaga's Jill Barta leads Starting Five
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 the standout competitors:
Jill Barta, Gonzaga, Sophomore, Forward
Behind the strong play of Jill Barta, Gonzaga moved into a tie for first in the West Coast Conference (WCC) with a 2-0 week. Barta averaged 27.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 3.5 steals while shooting .645 from the field, .417 from the three-point line and 1.000 from the charity stripe over the two games in being named WCC Player of the Week.
Barta led the Bulldogs with 22 points on 9-of-12 shooting in an 80-56 win at Loyola Marymount on Jan. 12. The sophomore forward followed that performance with a career-high and 2016-17 WCC-best 33 points against Saint Mary’s, including 23 points in the first half as the Bulldogs prevailed 79-75. Barta snagged seven steals in the game, a career-high and high for Gonzaga this year, as the Bulldogs totaled 18 steals in the come-from-behind win. Barta was a perfect 10-for-10 from the foul line in that game, the first Bulldog to do that since Courtney Vandersloot was 11-for-11 against UCLA in 2011.
On the season, Barta averages 17.4 points per game, second in the WCC and 72nd in the NCAA. She is shooting 54.6 percent from the field, good for second in the conference and 37th in the country. Barta averages 82.8 percent from the foul line, fourth in the WCC and 83rd in the country. She averages 6.4 rebounds per game, 12th in the WCC, and 1.4 blocks per game, third in the conference.
The Zags next host Santa Clara on Jan. 19.
Voters’ Choice: Brittanny Dinkins, Southern Miss, Senior, Guard
Brittanny Dinkins was ready to be back in Hattiesburg and to play in Reed Green Coliseum in Southern Miss’ first home game in over 30 days, an 84-69 win over Old Dominion on Jan. 12. Against Old Dominion, Dinkins exploded for a career-high 32 points, eight assists, five rebounds and a single-game, record-tying performance of 10 steals as the Lady Eagles won 84-69. Her showing included going 6-of-6 from the charity stripe and scoring eight of the team’s first 10 points.
Dinkins followed that performance with 25 points, four rebounds and six steals as Southern Miss defeated Charlotte, 78-61 on Jan. 14. It was her third straight game with more than 20 points. In the contest she sank four three-pointers that brought her career total to 135. Dinkins sits fifth in the record books for three-pointers made by a Lady Eagle and her 57 points in the last two contests moves her to No. 18 on the Southern Miss all-time scoring list.
First in Conference USA in steals (4.0), fourth in scoring (17.8) and eighth in assists (4.2), the week by Dinkins helped Southern Miss improve to 11-6 overall and 3-2 in Conference USA play.
The Lady Eagles will next travel to North Texas on Jan. 19.
Kristian Hudson, FIU, Sophomore, Guard
Kristian Hudson averaged 23.0 points in 45.5 minutes played, 7.5 free throws, 9.0 rebounds and 8.0 assists per game as FIU split a pair of games and remained in contention in Conference USA.
The week for Hudson began when she connected on a 33-foot buzzer-beater to give FIU the 88-87 triple-overtime victory over UTEP on Jan. 12, the school’s first-ever triple-overtime game. Hudson broke two school records in the game, playing in all 55 minutes and connecting on her 19th consecutive free throw, another school record, in the win. She posted a career-high 35 points, including the game-winning bucket, her first 3-pointer of the game, and set career highs for points, field goals made (11), free throws made (12) and attempted (13), and tied her career high with 10 assists for her first season double-double.
Hudson achieved a pair of double-doubles for the week when she posted an 11-point and career-high 10-rebound performance on Saturday in a nine-point loss to UTSA, FIU’s (4-12 and 2-3) first home loss in Conference USA play.
Hudson is second in the league in minutes played overall, but is the only player averaging over the regulation 40 minutes-per-game in conference games only. She is 14th in scoring at 12.8 points per game and sixth in assists, with 76 on the season.
FIU will play at Middle Tennessee on Jan. 19
Brionna Jones, Maryland, Senior, Center
Maryland senior center Brionna Jones continued her dominant season in leading the Terrapins to a pair of important Big Ten wins this week. She averaged 33.5 points, 12.0 rebounds in victories over Penn State and at Iowa. Jones went 24-for-33 from the field for a percentage of 72.7 and 19-for-22 from the free throw line.
Against Penn State, Jones played a career-high 37 minutes and tied the program record of 42 points in a game to go along with 14 boards. She made a career-best 15 field goals and went a career-high 12-for-14 from the foul line as Maryland won 89-83. She also became the fifth Terp to reach 1,000 career boards in the game.
At Iowa, she led the Terps' second half surge with 25 points, 10 rebounds, two steals and a block. She scored 15 of her points in the second half en route to a 98-82 road win.
Jones is currently leading the Big Ten in double-doubles with 12 this season, including a current streak of eight straight.
The Terrapins, 17-1 and 5-0, are ranked No. 3 in the latest Associated Press poll. Maryland will host Michigan on Jan. 19.
Kelsey Plum, Washington, Senior, Guard
The nation's leading scorer, Washington’s Kelsey Plum scored 70 points over the course of two games and became the first player in Pac-12 history, man or woman, to top 3,000 career points.
Against Arizona on Friday (Jan. 13), Plum scored 36 as Washington rolled past Arizona 90-73. Plum made 12 of 19 field goals and 10 of 11 free throws to lead the Huskies and become the 12 player in women’s college basketball history to top 3,000 points.
Two days later in Tempe, Plum scored 15 points in the fourth quarter as Washington pulled away to beat No. 19 Arizona State 65-54 on Sunday (Jan. 15). Plum finished with 34 to propel the Huskies (18-2, 6-1 Pac-12) to a road sweep of the Arizona schools and keep them alone in first place in the conference standings.
The senior guard moved from 11th into seventh on the women's basketball career scoring list with 3,041 points. A story worth watching over the last two months of the season will be Plum’s pursuit of all-time scoring leader, Jackie Stiles, who had 3,393 points from 1998 to 2001 for Missouri State. Plum trails Stiles by 352 points with 11 regular season games remaining, followed by the Pac-12 tournament and then hopefully the NCAA championship.
Washington continues play on Jan. 22, traveling across state to Pullman to face Washington State.