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Rick Nixon, | December 4, 2019

Women's basketball: Creighton's Jaylyn Agnew leads this week's Starting Five after career-best outing

Oregon State's half-court heave leads women's basketball plays of the week

Each week throughout the season, the Starting Five will highlight the top NCAA Division I women’s basketball performances from the previous week. 

Jaylyn Agnew, Creighton

Off to a great start to the 2019-20 season, Creighton’s Jaylyn Agnew took things to a new level with a career-high 34-point effort to help the Bluejays upset West Virginia and go 2-0 at the Cancun Challenge.

In the 82-75 win over West Virginia, the senior knocked down 13-of-19 attempts from the field including 6-of-11 from deep as the Bluejays topped the 23rd-ranked Mountaineers.

After torching the Mountaineers, Agnew faced intense defensive attention for much of the battle with Temple the following night, yet still delivered a 15-point showing in Creighton's 69-59 win over Temple.

ESSENTIALS: See who ranks in the updated AP Poll | Scoreboard of all games this week

Agnew averaged 24.5 points over the two contests on 18-of-36 (50 percent) from the field and was named to the Cancun Challenge All-Tournament Team.  Agnew began the week as the No. 5 scorer in the Big East Conference this season before bumping her average by nearly two points per game to now lead the conference with a 20.0 clip.

Creighton (6-1) returns to action on Dec. 4 with in a road game at South Dakota.

Gabby Connally, Georgia

Georgia’s Gabby Connally posted a trio of double-figure scoring games to lead the Lady Bulldogs to a perfect 3-0 record this week with wins over USC Upstate, Butler and Virginia Tech.

Connally led Georgia in scoring in two of the three games, including 22 points against Virginia Tech on Saturday. She has now scored in double figures in seven of her team’s eight games and leads Georgia in both assists (37) and steals (17) this season. 

During two wins against a pair of teams (Butler and Virginia Tech) that won 20 games and reached postseason play last year, Connally hit nearly 55 percent of her shots, nailed four 3-pointers, and was a perfect 9-for-9 at the free-throw line at the Daytona Beach Invitational. The Lady Bulldogs handed Butler just its second loss of the season thanks to Connally’s strong overall performance of 15 points, four assists and two steals.

She turned around the next day and led her team past Virginia Tech, giving the Hokies their first loss of the 2019-20 campaign. Fifteen of Connally’s team-high 22 points came in the second half. In a tight game, Connally extended Georgia’s lead in the fourth quarter to 58-51 with a 3-point basket. She then knocked in four free-throws in the final two minutes of action to seal the game and give Georgia its third consecutive win.

In a 67-53 win over USC Upstate on Nov. 26, Connally had 16 points, six rebounds and three assists in 29 minutes of court time.

The San Antonio native has started 38-straight games for the Lady Bulldogs and has played in each of the team's 71 contests over the past three seasons. Connally currently leads the SEC in total minutes played, is second in total assists and third in total free-throw percentage for the season.

On Wednesday, Connally and the Lady Bulldogs (6-2) play at No. 7 Baylor.

Ciara Duffy, South Dakota

South Dakota senior guard Ciara Duffy was named the South Point Thanksgiving Shootout's Most Valuable Performer and earned a spot on the all-tournament team after nearly recording a triple-double on Friday in leading the Coyotes to a 68-53 victory over Ohio State. 

Against the Buckeyes, Duffy’s stat line included 22 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists, a block and a steal. She then helped the Coyotes get out to a quick start over Northern Illinois with 13 points, four assists and three rebounds in 17 minutes. South Dakota won game two 91-48, with Duffy making three of South Dakota’s school record 17 3-pointers.

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A native of Rapid City, South Dakota, Duffy is averaging 17.6 points, 6.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists this season. She's reached double-figures in all eight games with a pair of double-doubles.

With the wins, South Dakota entered the USA Today Coaches Poll for the first time this season at No. 24. The Coyotes were ranked for five-straight weeks last season from Feb. 12 to March 12.  The Coyotes (7-1) now boast wins over Ohio State, Missouri, Utah, Drake and Green Bay this season. The Coyotes' lone blemish on the season came at the hands of Missouri State.

South Dakota will next host Creighton on Dec. 4.

Dana Evans, Louisville

Louisville junior guard Dana Evans was named Paradise Jam MVP after leading Louisville to wins over UT Arlington, Oklahoma State and No. 1 Oregon.

She averaged a Paradise Jam-best 21.3 points, while shooting 47 percent from the floor, 11-21 (.524) from 3-point range and 17-18 (.944) from the free throw line, while averaging 4.3 assists.

TEAM OF THE WEEK: Louisville takes home team of the week honors after Paradise Jam dominance

Evans is leading the Atlantic Coast Conference with 19.6 points per game and 24 made 3-pointers. She is shooting 52 percent from beyond the arc, which ranks second the league, and her 3.4 assists per game rank 13th.

Following a 72-62 win over No. 1 Oregon on Saturday, Louisville moved up to No. 2 in the latest Associated Press Top 25 poll.  The Cardinals (8-0) jumped six spots after winning all three games in the Virgin Islands and claiming the Paradise Jam Island Division.  Louisville received five first-place votes. It matches the highest ranking in program history. Four other times Louisville has been ranked second in the AP poll, three times last season and once in 2017-18.  Louisville finished November unscathed for the third consecutive season and are 22-0 in November over that span.

Louisville next plays at Ohio State on Thursday in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

Jasmine Franklin, Missouri State

Missouri State (7-1) entered the Associated Press Top 25 poll (No. 22) for the first time since February 2004 as sophomore forward Jasmine Franklin led the Lady Bears to wins over South Dakota and Kansas City.

Franklin averaged 18 points on 75 percent shooting, 8.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 2.5 steals and 2.0 blocks in two Missouri State wins last week, beginning with 12 points and 12 boards in a 74-66 victory at a South Dakota team on Nov. 25 that was ranked one spot outside the AP Poll. She added four assists, two blocks and two steals against the Coyotes.

The Fayetteville, Ark., native posted an historic shooting day Sunday versus Kansas City, going 11-for-12 from the floor for the third-best percentage ever (and best since 1992) for a Missouri State player with at least 10 makes in a game. That resulted in a career-high 24 points to go with five boards, three steals and two blocks as the Lady Bears prevailed 83-58.

Missouri State, which is also ranked 18th in the latest USA Today Coaches Poll and in the polls during non-conference play for the first time since December 2000, next host Wichita State on Dec. 4.

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