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Rick Nixon | | November 14, 2018

Women's basketball: Louisville's Asia Durr leads this week's Starting Five

Andy Katz calls for a Notre Dame repeat as national champs in women's hoops

The Starting Five honors a starting lineup of players from around the country who recorded standout performances for that week.  Here’s the starters for the opening week of the season, Nov. 6-13.

Kristine Anigwe, California

California senior Kristine Anigwe came into her final year 472 points from topping the 2,320 of Colleen Galloway, who played at Cal from 1977 to '81.  Anigwe is already 77 points closer to the record after averaging 25.7 points and 15.7 rebounds per game in three early season wins.

In a Nov. 6 season-opening win over Houston, Anigwe made her presence felt, scoring 37 points and grabbing 13 rebounds as the Golden Bears battled to an 80-79 win over a tough and talented Houston Cougars' squad. The three-time All-Pac-12 selection stole the show in the third quarter, scoring 21 points during those 10 minutes, going 8-9 from the floor and 5-5 from the foul line over that stretch. Anigwe's 21 points in that quarter were the most by any Cal player in a single quarter since the NCAA moved to quarter play for women's basketball at the start of the 2015-16 season. The Phoenix, Arizona, product also went a perfect 11-11 from the foul line in the win over the Cougars, tying her career best for the most free throws made in a game without a miss.

Anigwe followed up that performance with another dominant outing on Sunday, going off for 24 points and 22 rebounds as Cal defeated Penn State on the road, 75-58.  Anigwe's 22 rebounds finished three shy of her career best set last November at Brown and just four shy of tying the program's single-game record of 26, held by Gennifer Brandon.  Anigwe now has two career games with 20-plus points and 20-plus rebounds, both coming in wins on the road.

The Golden Bears return to action Nov. 18 at home against Pacific.

Asia Durr, Louisville

2018 ACC Player of the Year, Asia Durr picked up where she left off last season, averaging 28.5 points per game as Louisville scored wins at Western Kentucky and Chattanooga last week.

Durr opened the season on Nov. 6 by scoring the first 11 points for Louisville as the Cards started the game with an 11-2 run at Western Kentucky. She finished with 33 points, which set a school record for points in an opener, on 12-21 shooting, 7-15 from deep, in just 21 minutes of action as Louisville prevailed 102-80.

She followed that by scoring 24 points in a 75-49 win at Chattanooga, 14 of which came during a 30-10 third quarter. Durr finished 7-14 from the floor, 5-10 from deep, with three assists and four rebounds.

The All-American now has nine career 30-point games and 39 career 20-point games. Her 1,800 points ranks seventh in school history.  She has 290 made 3-point field goals in her career, which ranks her second in program history.

Louisville returns to action Nov. 19 when they travel to play at Boise State.

Megan Gustafson, Iowa

Enjoying its highest AP Poll ranking since February 2016, 13th ranked Iowa won its season-opener behind the strong play of senior standout Megan Gustafson.

The 2018 Big Ten Player of the Year led the Hawkeyes in points, rebounds, assists and blocks in Iowa's season-opening 90-77 win against Oral Roberts on Nov. 9. Gustafson netted 23 points on 61.1 percent (11-for-18) shooting from the field. She pulled down 17 rebounds, including seven offensive boards. She also registered six assists, four blocks and committed zero turnovers in 32 minutes of action.

Going into a Nov. 13 game at Western Kentucky, Gustafson was four rebounds shy of career rebound No. 1,000. On Tuesday night, she recorded 12 rebounds, bringing her career total to 1008, which ranks second all-time at Iowa. Cindy Haugejorde (1976-80) holds the rebounding record with 1,067. She is closing in on becoming just the second Hawkeye in program history register 1,000-plus rebounds. Gustafson would become the seventh Big Ten student-athlete to register 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in her career.

Iowa returns home to play North Carolina Central on Nov. 17.

Alex Johnson, Middle Tennessee

Middle Tennessee senior standout Alex Johnson led the Lady Raiders to a pair of wins on opening weekend, averaging 15.5 points on 68 percent shooting from the field and 88 percent from the free-throw line, while pulling 10 rebounds in wins against Vanderbilt and Furman.

Johnson was a force in Middle Tennessee's home win against Vanderbilt, pouring in 19 points and connecting on 10-of-12 free throws to lead the Lady Raiders to a 65-58 victory. The forward was instrumental in helping lead the Lady Raiders to a roaring start in which they gained early control of the game.

Johnson came back strong against Furman with 12 points in the Nov. 11 road win; however, it was more about when Johnson scored than how many points. The forward poured in 10 of her 12 in the second half as Middle Tennessee overcame a 12-point deficit to secure the 78-71 victory.

With the 31 points in two games, Johnson moved into 17th on the Middle Tennessee all-time scoring list with 1,387 career points. She is four points shy of moving past Kortni Jones and into 16th on the Lady Raiders career list.

Middle Tennessee will next play at Tennessee Tech on Nov. 16.

Alyssa Okoene, Houston

Houston redshirt sophomore forward Alyssa Okoene averaged 16.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per contest in the first two games of her career as the Cougars split a pair of games to open the season.

In her Houston debut at California on Nov. 6, Okoene connected on all three of her shots from the field and pulled down two offensive rebounds. She ended with seven points despite playing just 15 minutes due to foul trouble as Houston fell 80-79 to the nationally ranked Bears.

Okoene showed up big three nights later against Georgia Tech, a contest where she made the first start of her career. The Houston native paced the team with 26 points and 11 rebounds as the Cougars won 95-89 in double overtime. Okoene’s first career double-double included 10-of-16 shooting from the floor, including a layup as time expired in the first overtime to tie the contest and send the game to a second overtime where Houston pulled away for the win.

Houston returns to action on Nov. 14 at Louisiana Tech.

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