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Rick Nixon | | December 19, 2018

Women's basketball: Maui Classic tournament MVP Chennedy Carter leads this week's Starting Five

Andy Katz chats with Gonzaga's Laura Stockton

The Starting Five honors a starting lineup of players from around the country who enjoyed standout performances for that week. Here are the starters for the week of Dec. 11-17.

Chennedy Carter, Texas A&M

Texas A&M sophomore guard Chennedy Carter earned Tournament MVP honors at the Maui Jim Maui Classic, averaging 26.5 points per game in leading the Aggies to wins over UC Riverside and No. 8 Oregon State.

Against UC Riverside on Dec. 14, Carter scored a then-tournament-record 26 points, including eight in a 16-second span in the third quarter, quelling the Highlanders' upset bid as the Aggies won 70-63.

Against No. 8 Oregon State, Carter scored 19 points in the game's first 12 minutes and set the tournament record again with 27 points, despite playing most of the second half with a nagging foot injury. The Aggies defeated a top 10 team away from Reed Arena for the first time since 2013 with a 76-70 win. 

MORE: Pair of ranked upsets earn South Dakota Team of the Week honors

During the Oregon State game, the 45th of her career, she became the fastest SEC player to reach 1,000 career points since Georgia's Janet Harris in 1985, and was the quickest to reach that mark in program history. The only active sophomore with 1,000 career points, Carter is now the SEC's leading scorer this season with 20.8 points per game. She is also Division I's active leader with 22.3 points per game in her career.

Carter and the Aggies return to action on Dec. 19, hosting Southern California.

Megan Gustafson, Iowa

Already named the Big Ten Conference Player of the Week five times this season, Iowa senior Megan Gustafson continues to stand out as one of the nation’s best.

Gustafson posted her NCAA-leading ninth double-double of the season Sunday with a game-high 28 points and 12 rebounds in leading the Hawkeyes to an 83-57 victory over in-state rival Northern Iowa.  She connected on 11 of 14 shots from the field (79 percent) and shot 86 percent (6-for-7) from the free-throw line. Gustafson also added an assist and a block in the victory.

RELATED: Stanford slides in at No. 8 in AP poll, Baylor falls out of top 5 after head-to-head battle

The Port Wing, Wisconsin native now has 2,050 career points, needing 48 more points to move into the top 25 in Big Ten career scoring. She needs 53 points to become Iowa’s all-time scoring leader. Ally Disterhoft holds the record with 2,102 points (2013-17). Gustafson became Iowa's all-time rebounding leader on Dec. 5 and currently has 1,102 career boards.

Gustafson and the Hawkeyes (8-2) next play Dec. 21, traveling to Drake. 

Lasha Petree, Bradley

Bradley freshman guard Lasha Petree became only the seventh player since 2003-04 to earn both the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) Player and Newcomer of the Week honors in the same week. 

Petree knocked down 6-of-10 3-pointers and scored a game-high 28 points to lead Bradley to an 80-60 victory at Omaha on Friday. Playing just 25 minutes, she had an efficient outing, shooting 9-of-16 from the field with a rebound, an assist and a pair of steals. She topped 20 points for the fourth time this season.

Petree helped the Braves match their second-longest win streak in program history with their eighth straight victory. Bradley is one of 17 undefeated teams remaining in the nation, as of Dec. 16. Petree scored 16 of her 28 points in the first half, including a 10-point outburst during a 19-5 Bradley run to close out the second quarter.

Currently second in the MVC in scoring at 18.1 points per game, Petree ranks third in the nation among freshmen in scoring and is just the sixth player in school history to have four 20-point outings as a freshman.

Petree and the Braves (8-0) return to action Dec. 19, continuing a three-game road swing with a game at Cleveland State. 

Alanna Smith, Stanford

Stanford’s Alanna Smith scored 21 points on 7-of-12 shooting (including 5-of-9 from 3-point range), grabbed eight rebounds and had two blocks and two assists as the Cardinal knocked off previously undefeated Baylor 68-63 on Saturday. Smith was named the U.S. Basketball Writers Association's Ann Meyers Drysdale National Player of the Week.

The win over Baylor was Stanford’s first in the regular season against a top-five team since it ended No. 1 UConn's 47-game winning streak in overtime, 88-86, on Nov. 17, 2014. The Cardinal is now 9-1 in its last 10 home game against top-five opponents.

Smith played a vital role in shutting down Baylor's inside tandem of Kalani Brown (16.4 points per game) and Lauren Cox (12.3), who came in averaging nearly 30 combined points per game. Together, they went for just seven points on 3-of-11 shooting (.273). Baylor, which entered the game leading the nation in field goal percentage (.557), shot just 34.9 percent (22-of-63) against the Cardinal, its lowest since losing 88-69 to Notre Dame in the Elite Eight on March 31, 2014 (.338).

Smith is shooting 57.8 percent from the field (52-of-90), 50 percent from behind the arc (21-of-42) and is averaging a team-high 18.5 points per game to go with 6.4 rebounds this season. She is the only player in the nation shooting better than 57 percent from the floor and 50 percent from deep using NCAA minimums of five made field goals per game and two made 3-pointers per game. 

Smith is second in the Pac-12 and 31st in the country in field goal percentage, third in the conference and 11th in the country in 3-point percentage, seventh in the league in scoring and leads players 6-4 or taller in 3-point percentage and 3-pointers made.

Stanford moved to 8-1 with a 95-85 win against Tennessee on Thursday. The Cardinal travel to Buffalo on Dec. 21. 

IImar'I Thomas, Cincinnati

One of the top freshmen in the American Athletic Conference a year ago, Cincinnati sophomore forward IImar'I Thomas continued to shine this week, scoring 20 points and pulling down a career-high 18 rebounds in a win over crosstown rival Xavier 79-61 on Sunday.

Thomas paced five Bearcats in double-figures and added a career-best four assists. With the score tied at 43 with eight minutes to go in the third quarter, Cincinnati surged ahead of Xavier behind a 22-7 run — including 11 unanswered points — to take a 65-50 advantage with 1:15 remaining in the frame. The Musketeers answered with six straight points to trim the deficit to 65-56. But behind four points and seven rebounds by Thomas in the fourth quarter, the Bearcats took control of the game for good with a 9-0 run and improved its record to 7-5 overall.

On the season, Thomas is averaging team-highs of 11.1 points and 6.7 rebounds in 25 minutes per game. In her last three games, the forward averaged 17.3 points and 10.3 rebounds. She entered Monday ranked second in the AAC in field goal percentage at 65 percent on the season, 11th in rebounding and 23rd in scoring.

Cincinnati will host Howard next on Dec. 21.

MORE: DI women's basketball home | 2018-19 Women's Final Four tickets and info

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