The importance of three-point shooting seems to be increasing each year in basketball, no matter if its men’s or women’s, college or in the pros.
In women’s basketball, each of the teams that made the Final Four last season — Baylor, Notre Dame, UConn and Oregon — all ranked in the top 27 of three-point shooting percentage. Oregon led the country in three-point efficiency, making 41.5 percent of their outside shots.
Each team is trying to find their own Steph Curry or Allie Quigley, someone who can completely alter the outcome of a game by stringing together a few outside shots. A few of those types of players exist in women’s college basketball and will be crucial to their team’s success this year.
According to the numbers, these are the best returning three-point shooters in women’s basketball.
Lauren Loven, Senior - Denver
Only two players — Taylor Pierce of Idaho and Darby Maggard of Belmont — sank more three-pointers than Loven last year. From beyond the arc, she made 111 of 275 shots, good enough for 44.4 percent clip. Those marks were school and league records at Denver and in the Summit League.
Loven, a 5-foot-7 guard from Arizona, was an All-Summit League honorable mention last season after averaging 14.3 points per-game. In a win over South Dakota, she sank six three-pointers en route to a career-high 32 points.
The Pioneers made the WNIT last season, and Loven’s shooting was a big reason why. Another stellar season from outside for her could lead Denver to its first NCAA tournament appearance since 2001.
Loven!!!! Lauren is now 6-of-8 from long distance. She has 22 points as we lead 66-34. pic.twitter.com/PwJFIN4Xck— Denver Women's Hoops (@DU_WHoops) November 11, 2018
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Taylor Robertson, Sophomore - Oklahoma
The Sooners weren’t very good last year, posting an 8-22 record, but the shooting skills of Robertson gave the fans something to cheer for and something to hope into. Her 105 three-pointers led the Big 12, set a freshman record at Oklahoma, and put her second all-time for a season total by a Sooner. Robertson made the All-Big 12 Freshman team.
Robertson’s 46.7 percent clip from outside was second in the country, just behind Wyoming’s Marta Gomez’s mark of 47.4 percent. In a win over Western Kentucky, Robertson connected on eight shots from outside.
The 5-foot-7 Kansas native also led all Big 12 freshman in shooting from the charity stripe with an 88.9 percent mark, and she averaged 14.3 points per-game over 30 contests. If Robertson continues to improve, Oklahoma’s record should too.
Dara Mabrey, Sophomore - Virginia Tech
As a freshman, Mabrey set a Virginia Tech record with 80 three-pointers made in a single season. Her 46.2 three-point percentage led the ACC and was third in the nation.
Basketball is in Mabrey’s blood, as her older sisters, Michaela and Marina were All-Americans who played at Notre Dame. In addition to her shooting, the New Jersey native also led the Hokies in assists with 2.7 per-game. Her best game from outside last season came in a win over Pitt, where she hit six-of-seven from outside. She repeated that mark in the WNIT against Furman.
In all, Mabrey averaged 11.2 points per-game and helped Virginia Tech get their third straight 20-plus win season and third straight WNIT berth.
Erin Boley, RS Junior - Oregon
While Sabrina Ionescu gets most of the attention at Oregon, the best shooter on the team — by the numbers — is Erin Boley. Boley was 12th in the nation in three-point shooting percentage (43.0) and fifth in three-pointers made (108) last season. Those marks led the Pac-12.
A native of Kentucky who started her career at Notre Dame, Boley had one of her best games last season in a win over USC, where she knocked down eight of 11 attempts from outside and finished with 32 points. Earlier in the season, she hit nine-of-13 against Washington.
Boley’s shooting will be key as Oregon tries to get back to the Final Four this season.