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:
Jordin Canada, UCLA
Behind senior point guard Jordin Canada, UCLA is on a six-game winning streak that has brought the Bruins to within one game of the Pac-12 Conference lead.
Canada’s latest exploits led UCLA to its second-consecutive Pac-12 road sweep with wins at Washington and Washington State as she averaged 20.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.0 steals per game while shooting 51.7 percent (15-for-29) from the field and 75.0 percent (9-for-12) from the free-throw line.
Jordin Canada does it all. Canada led No. 9 @UCLAWBB to two victories in which she averaged 20.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, four assists and two steals over the weekend.— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) January 29, 2018
Congratulations Jordin on being named #Pac12WBB Player of the Week: https://t.co/wglL2zd5k2 pic.twitter.com/CQWnIbHs4A
Canada opened the week with 22 points on 9-of-15 shooting, adding five rebounds and five assists at Washington as the Bruins prevailed 86-69 on Jan. 26. Her point total included 13 points in the third period. The Bruins reached two milestones during the game as Canada became the fifth player in Pac-12 history to record 300 steals and UCLA posted its 800th win in program history.
She followed up with 19 points, four rebounds, three assists and two more steals in a 79-71 win at Washington State on Jan. 28. She was backed by senior Monique Billings and junior Lajahna Drummer, who each posted double-doubles in the victory. Billings had 15 points and 15 rebounds and Drummer finished with 10 points and a career-high-tying 14 boards to help UCLA to a 51-29 rebounding advantage.
UCLA, 17-4 and 8-2 in the Pac-12, returns to action on Friday, Feb. 2 when it hosts cross-town rival USC.
Kaila Charles, Maryland
Sophomore Kaila Charles led Maryland to a dominating win on national television and a tough road win last week, averaging 24.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals while shooting 76 percent from the field and 10-for-12 at the foul line.
Against No. 12 Ohio State on Jan. 22, Charles went 12-for-16 from the field and 7-for-8 at the free throw line for a career-high 32 points as the Terrapins scored a statement 99-69 win. She added seven boards, three blocks and an assist.
At Northwestern on Thursday, Charles fought through foul trouble for a team-high 17 points with two steals, a block and an assist as Maryland prevailed 68-65.
Charles is leading the Terrapins in scoring (17.9) and rebounding (7.9) and steals (1.9). She has scored in double figures in 19 of 21 games this season.
Ranked No. 14 in the latest Associated Press poll, Maryland, 18-3 and 7-1 in the Big Ten Conference, will host Rutgers on Feb. 1.
Jessica Shepard, Notre Dame
Notre Dame junior forward Jessica Shepard led the Irish to a pair of road wins last week including an impressive victory at Florida State which positioned the Irish atop the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) standings.
The Nebraska native averaged 23.5 points and 10.5 rebounds in road wins over Pittsburgh and No. 8 Florida State.
Shepard’s stellar week started in Notre Dame’s 87-53 win at Pitt on Jan. 25. She secured her seventh double-double with 28 points and a season high tying 12 rebounds. During one first half stretch, Shepard scored 15 of the team’s next 17 points, finishing with 19 by the half.
She followed that performance with a 19-point scoring effort in Notre Dame’s 100-69 victory at Florida State, extending her double-digit scoring streak to a season best eight consecutive games. The Irish (20-2, 8-1) stymied the Seminoles (18-3, 6-2), who entered the contest leading the ACC with an average of 86 points per game. For Notre Dame, the win marked its third of the season against a top-10 opponent.
Shepard and the Irish return to action on Thursday, Feb. 1, when they host North Carolina.
Kristy Wallace, Baylor
Baylor senior Kristy Wallace led the Lady Bears to wins last week over a pair of ranked Big 12 Conference opponents.
The Loganholme, Queensland, Australia native averaged 26.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game, playing an average of 39 minutes per contest as Baylor defeated No. 6 Texas, 81-56 and No. 19 West Virginia, 83-72. Wallace shot a team-high 66.7 percent from the floor and a team-high 62.5 percent from three-point range, accounting for all made three-pointers for Baylor on the week. She has registered four 20-point performances this season and six in her career.
Against Texas, Wallace went off for a career-high 27 points and combined with Baylor's post duo of Kalani Brown and Lauren Cox for 61 points and 28 rebounds.
At West Virginia on Sunday, Wallace had 25 points on 9-14 shooting and led Baylor back from a nine-point deficit for the win. The Lady Bears were down by six at the half, before riding a suffocating defense that took over late in the game as Baylor pulled out the road win.
The Lady Bears, 19-1 and 9-0 Big 12, return to action on Wednesday, Jan. 31 at home against No. 19 Oklahoma State.
Ashli O’Neal, Indiana State
The 5-5 sophomore point guard known to her teammates as "Biggie," Ashli O’Neal stepped up in a big way last week as Indiana State swept a pair of games last week over Loyola and Valparaiso. The sweep, Indiana State's first true road wins of the season, marked consecutive weekend sweeps for the Sycamores for the first time since the 2013-14 season.
O'Neal averaged 21.5 points per game while shooting an impressive 52.0 percent (13-for-25) from the field in the victories. For the week, she was perfect from the free throw line (12-for-12) and shot 38.5 percent (5-for-13) from beyond the arc. O'Neal also brought down 10 rebounds over the two games and was credited with four assists and two steals.
In the 73-65 win at Loyola on Jan. 26, O'Neal scored nine of her game-high 21 points over the final five minutes, including making all four free throw attempts in the final minute of play to help Sycamores seal the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) win.
She tied a career-high with 22 points in Indiana State’s 67-54 win over Valparaiso on Sunday. The weekend also marked the first time in her career that she has recorded back-to-back 20-point performances.
Indiana State, 7-13 and 5-4 MVC, returns to action Friday evening at Evansville.