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Rick Nixon, | February 13, 2019

Women's basketball: Napheesa Collier headlines this week's Starting Five honorees

UConn women's basketball has a star.

The Starting Five honors a starting lineup of players from around the country who enjoyed standout performances for that week. Here’s the starters for the week of Feb. 6-12.

Napheesa Collier, UConn

UConn senior Napheesa Collier averaged 27.3 points per game in three wins last week as the Huskies offense proved unstoppable, averaging 108 points per outing.

A national player of the year candidate, Collier had a season-best 31 points, 16 rebounds and six assists in the fourth-ranked Huskies' latest victory, a 97-79 win on Monday night over No. 11 South Carolina. Collier recorded her 13th double-double of the season and 37th of her career. It was her eighth straight game with 20 or more points.

UConn started the week with a 118-55 win over East Carolina on Feb. 6 as Collier registered 21 points in just 21 minutes, shooting a perfect 10-for-10 from the field while adding four boards, three assists and three blocks.

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Against Temple on Feb. 9, Collier scored 30 points and pulled down 14 rebounds as the Huskies rolled the Owls, 109-74. Collier connected on 12-of-16 shots from the floor with six assists and three blocks.  Collier also had 30 points in a win over the Owls last month.

Collier ranks second in the American Athletic Conference with an average of 19.8 points per game and leads the conference with 10.1 rebounds per game.

UConn, 22-2 overall and 10-0 in the AAC, will next travel to UCF on Sunday, February 17.

Sophie Cunningham, Missouri

Sophie Cunningham averaged 24.5 points and 10.0 rebounds per game in Missouri’s wins over No. 18 Texas A&M (Feb. 7) and Vanderbilt (Feb. 10) while registering her 43rd and 44th career 20-point games.

The Tiger senior led Mizzou to a 70-65 overtime victory over No. 18 Texas A&M on Feb. 7, as Cunningham notched her 12th career double-double with 22 points and 12 rebounds. She accounted for six of Mizzou's nine total points in overtime, connecting on all four of her free throws in the extra period.

On Sunday, Cunningham scored 27 points, grabbed eight rebounds and matched a career-high with seven three-pointers in Mizzou's 69-46 win over Vanderbilt. Cunningham became the second Tiger to register seven threes in a Southeastern Conference game, as she joins Morgan Eye, who made 11 against Auburn on Jan. 6, 2013. It marked the 11th time this season that she has reached 20 points, as the Tigers moved to 10-1 in games this season in which she has scored 20-plus points.

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Cunningham has been on a recent scoring tear, as she has averaged 22.4 points per game over her last seven contests with five 20-point games. The Tiger senior ranks near the top of numerous statistical categories in the SEC, as she ranks fourth in three-point percentage (42.9 percent), fifth in scoring (17.1 points per game), fifth in three-pointers made (2.4) sixth in field goal percentage (49.5 percent) and seventh in free throw percentage (79.7 percent). In conference games only, Cunningham leads the SEC in three-point percentage (54.7 percent) and three-pointers made per game (3.2), and ranks third in scoring (18.7 ppg), third in field goal percentage (55.8 percent) and sixth in free throw percentage (87.8 percent).

Cunningham is the SEC career active scoring leader with 1,991 points, and ranks sixth in career rebounds (646) and seventh in assists (363).

Mizzou, 18-7 overall and 7-4 in the SEC, hits the road this week for a matchup with No. 5 Mississippi State on Thursday before returning home to Mizzou Arena on Sunday to host Tennessee.

Becca Hittner, Drake

In blowout road wins over Valparaiso and Loyola, Drake’s Becca Hittner averaged 21.0 points, 6.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists while shooting a blistering 56.7 percent (17-of-30) from the floor and 53.8 percent (7-of-13) from the three-point line while averaging just 25.0 minutes of action.

Drake started the week with an 88-62 win at Valparaiso on Feb. 8 as Hittner scored a game-high 23 points on just 15 shots, including making 4-of-6 from three-point line, to go along with seven rebounds and two assists in 24 minutes. She followed that with another great performance in the 83-55 victory over Loyola, totaling 19 points, a career-best seven assists, six rebounds and one steal in 26 minutes.

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Hittner, the reigning Jackie Stiles Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year, leads the conference in scoring at 19.8 points per game while shooting a league-high 44.3 percent from the three-point line. She is among the Valley leaders in field goal percentage (49.4, 7th), free throw percentage (80.5, 9th) and rebounding (4.8, 18th) and ranks second in most three-pointers with 54. Her career three-point average of 46.2 percent is tops among active NCAA players. Hittner has 10 20-plus scoring games this season and 19 in her career.     

Drake, 18-5 overall and 10-1 in MVC play, starts a three-game homestand Friday night when in-state rival UNI visits the Knapp Center.

Sabrina Ionescu, Oregon

Sporting the nation’s No. 1 scoring offense that averages 90.3 points per game, Oregon continues to hum along behind the sterling play of junior Sabrina Ionescu, who scored 54 total points in a Bay Area sweep of California and No. 11 Stanford last week.  The Ducks now have the longest active winning streak in the country at 16 straight and improved their best conference start in program history to 12-0 in Pac-12 play.

Ionescu scored 27 points in each victory while shooting 62.9 percent from the field and 75 percent from three-point range to help No. 3 Oregon record a pair of road wins over California, 105-82, and Stanford, 88-48.

Against Cal she totaled 27 points while shooting 10-of-15 from the field and 3-of-4 from deep, tallied five rebounds and added four assists.

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In Oregon's first victory at Stanford since 1987, Ionescu finished just shy of a triple-double, going 12-of-20 overall and drained 3-of-4 from beyond the arc with nine rebounds and eight assists. 

Ionescu is the all-time NCAA record-holder with 16 career triple-doubles and is currently averaging 19.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 8.2 assists per game — the only player in the NCAA averaging 14-plus points, 7-plus rebounds and 7-plus assists.

Oregon, 23-1 overall, will return to action this Friday, Feb. 15 at home versus rival Oregon State.

Stella Johnson, Rider

Junior Stella Johnson of Rider has helped the Broncs get off to their best 12-game start (10-2) since joining the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. This past week, the Broncs went 3-0 with wins over Monmouth, Marist and Rider as Johnson averaging over 17.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, 5.6 assists and three steals per game.

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Johnson recorded her second double-double of the season against Monmouth with 24 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and four steals in a 15-point win (65-50) versus the Hawks. She then led the way with 23 points, seven assists, four rebounds and two steals in a 70-64 victory over the Marist Red Foxes.  Rider capped the week with a Feb. 12 win over visiting Iona, 75-64, with Johnson contributing six points, five assists and three rebounds.

For the week, she connected on 41 percent of her shots from field and knocked down 13 of 14 free throws.

Rider, 14-9 overall, returns to action on Feb. 15 at Saint Peter’s.

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