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:
Chennedy Carter, Texas A&M
The nation’s top scoring freshman, Texas A&M’s Chennedy Carter continues to add to her early season accolades.
Carter set a Texas A&M single-game record with 46 points and scored the game-winning basket with 10.9 seconds to play as the Aggies scored a 75-74 win over USC on Dec. 15. The 46 points were the most points for any Division I freshman since Elena Delle Donne of Delaware scored 54 points during the 2009-10 season. She made a Texas A&M single-game record 17 field goals off of 28 attempts, and assisted or scored on 23 of the Aggies' 27 made baskets in the game.
The Mansfield, Texas native hit the go-ahead shot, the last two of her 46 points, to give Texas A&M the lead in the game played at USC’s Galen Center. When USC missed their final two shots, the Aggies held on to move to 2-0 in road games and 9-2 overall on the season.
Also named espnW National Player of the Week on Monday, Carter leads all Division I freshmen in scoring with 21.0 points per game this season.
Carter, and the No. 19 Aggies, return to action on Dec. 20 when they face Hawai'i at the Duel in the Desert in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Brooke McCarty, Texas
After missing the first game of her collegiate career that had spanned 113 games, Texas senior guard Brooke McCarty returned to the Longhorns lineup in triumphant fashion, scoring a season-high 24 points as Texas handed No. 12 Florida State its first loss of the season on Dec. 17.
McCarty missed the Dec. 13 game against Northwestern State due to a left-hip injury and did not practice during the week due to her injury. In the 87-72 win over the Seminoles, McCarty knocked down 10-of-13 shots from the field and also connected on three three-pointers. McCarty's 24 points tied for the most by a Texas player in a single game this season. It marked the ninth time in her collegiate career and first time this season that McCarty has eclipsed the 20-point plateau. She also dished out a team-high six assists with no turnovers and brought down three rebounds against Florida State in 34 minutes of action.
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McCarty increased her career scoring total to 1,281 points. She needs 19 more points to become the 26th player in school history to reach 1,300 career points. McCarty also increased her career three-pointers made total to 199. She needs one more three-pointer to become just the fourth player in school history to reach 200 career threes.
McCarty and the Longhorns (9-1) return to action on Dec. 28 in the Big 12 Conference opener at Oklahoma.
Teaira McCowan, Mississippi State
Mississippi State’s Teaira McCowan continues to enjoy a breakout season and recorded a stat line in one game that has not been seen since the days of Brittney Griner at Baylor. McCowan averaged 26.5 points, 15.0 rebounds, 3.0 blocks and 2.0 steals and recorded her second and third straight double-doubles and her sixth and seventh of the season, as the Bulldogs scored wins over No. 9 Oregon and Maine.
McCowan, a 6-7 junior center powered the Bulldogs to 90-79 win against No. 9 Oregon on Dec. 13, making 15 of her 18 attempts from the field (83.3%) for a career-high 35 points to go with 19 rebounds. She also blocked five shots in the win. She became the first Division I player since Griner in 2013 to fill the box score in that fashion.
Teammate Victoria Vivians backed McCowan with 30 points of her own against Oregon, marking the first time two players scored 30-plus points in the same game against a ranked opponent since at least the turn of the millennium. McCowan’s 15 field goals tied for third-most in Mississippi State’s single-season records. She actually had a double-double in the first half of the contest, hitting 10-off-11 shots for 21 points and 10 rebounds.
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McCowan capped the week by scoring 18 points and grabbing 11 rebounds in an 83-43 victory against Maine. McCowan also had three steals in the 40-point win against the Black Bears.
Her stellar week moved her past LaToya Thomas for the top spot in the Mississippi State records for career field goal percentage (56.2%).
The Bulldogs, 11-0 on the season, will return to action on Dec. 20 against UNLV in the Duel in the Desert in Las Vegas.
Jessica Shepard, Notre Dame
One of the key reasons in Notre Dame’s climb back to No. 2 currently in the latest Associated Press Top 25 poll is transfer Jessica Shepard.
This past week Shepard produced the most dominant performance of her career, pouring in a career high 39 points to go with 11 rebounds in a 91-82 win over DePaul. Shepard knocked in a then season-high 26 points by the half on 13 made field goals, before setting a new Purcell Pavilion women’s scoring record, besting Ruth Riley’s 36 points set twice versus Miami (Feb. 22, 2000) and versus Providence (Jan. 10, 1999). The junior’s 39 points also stood as the fourth-most points all-time, trailing only Jewell Loyd’s 41 at DePaul on Dec. 10, 2014, Ruth Riley’s 41 at Providence on Jan. 30, 1999 and Katryna Gaither’s 40 versus Ohio on Nov. 29, 1997. Furthermore, Shepard was highly efficient from the field, converting 17-of-22 attempts, as her 17 made field goals tied for the second most in program history, while claiming the top spot on the Purcell Pavilion list.
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A transfer from Nebraska, Shepard notched her fourth double-double of the year against DePaul. Currently 12th in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) in scoring at 15.1 points per game, Shepard’s 39 points stands as the highest individual scoring performance among ACC players during regulation thus far this season. She has formed a formidable one-two punch this season with Irish teammate Arike Ogunbowale, the ACC’s leading scorer at 20.7 points per game.
Shepard and the rest of the Irish (10-1) return to action on Dec. 20, when they host Marquette.
Fans’ Vote: Bayley Plummer, Appalachian State
.@BayleyPlummer posted a career-high 16 points and 18 boards in the win at Marshall, including this impressive one-handed and-1 in crunch time! Vote her for #NCAAW #NCAAStartingFive as a player of the week.— App State WBB (@AppStateWBB) December 19, 2017
One of the nation’s top rebounders, Bayley Plummer of Appalachian State had career highs of 16 points and 18 rebounds with three blocks, three steals and two assists in a win at Marshall, 56-54 on Dec. 16.
A 6-4 sophomore center, Plummer shot 6-for-12 from the field and 4-of-7 from the charity stripe in her best outing of the season. She was backed by Nicola Mathews with 17 points, while LaPresha Stanley scored 14 of her 16 points in the second half. Plummer, Stanley, and Mathews combined for 49 points, 27 rebounds, and 11 assists while shooting 16-for-37 from the floor.
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For Plummer and Appalachian State it was the first time since 2013-14 that a player had reached at least 15 points and 15 rebounds, while her 18 rebounds are the most by a Sun Belt Conference player this season. Currently 12th in the nation in rebounding at 12.1 per contest, Plummer has now notched three double-doubles this season and has five for her career.
The Mountaineers, 2-8, will next face UNCA on Dec. 21. It will be the final non-conference tune-up for Appalachian State before Sun Belt play begins on Dec. 29 at home against Texas State.
Editor’s Note: NCAA.com Starting Five will be off next week for the Christmas break, returning on Jan. 3.