Each week throughout the season we put together a starting five that will highlight the top NCAA Division I women’s basketball performances from the previous week.
Here is the starting five for the week of Jan. 8:
Kathleen Doyle, Iowa
Iowa improved to 2-1 in Big Ten Conference play as senior Kathleen Doyle scored a career-high 33 points in 25 minutes, leading the Hawkeyes to a program-record 108 points in its win over Illinois (108-72) on Dec. 31. Doyle shot 78.6 percent from the field and was 9-for-9 from the free-throw line against the Illini.
In Iowa's 77-51 win at Northwestern, Doyle tallied seven assists and now has 85 assists on the season and 602 for her career. Behind Doyle, Iowa made 9 of 14 3-point field goals and had 24 assists on 29 made field goals. The Hawkeyes are fourth in the nation with 21.5 assists per game. Iowa's senior backcourt of Doyle and Makenzie Meyer (six) combined for 13 assists.
Doyle and the Hawkeyes (11-3) return home for two Big Ten contests this week, including Maryland (Jan. 9) and Indiana (Jan. 12) at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
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Rhyne Howard, Kentucky
Kentucky sophomore Rhyne Howard got off to an impressive start in SEC play, scoring 28 points, grabbing six rebounds and dishing out two assists at South Carolina before scoring a career-best 37 points against Tennessee on Sunday. Howard's 37 points were the most scored by any SEC player this season and marked the most points scored by a Kentucky player against Tennessee in program history.
The strong performances were the third and fourth straight 25-plus scoring games for Howard, becoming the first player to accomplish that feat since All-American Valerie Still did it during the 1980-81 season.
In the 80-76 win over Tennessee, Howard tied the Kentucky school record with seven made three-pointers in a game, a record she also tied last season against Southern. On Sunday, Howard made 12 of 27 shots overall, including seven of 13 from behind the arc and six of nine from the line for her 37 points. She added nine rebounds and five assists in the game.
Howard, who is the first Kentucky player since Makayla Epps in 2016-17 to have multiple 30-plus point scoring games in the same season, is having a remarkable season for Kentucky, averaging 22.6 points per game and 5.7 rebounds per game while leading the team with 46 three-pointers made and 29 steals. Howard ranks top-10 nationally and second in the SEC in field-goals made, 3-point field-goals made, total points and points per game. The guard has scored 20 or more points nine times this season and has led Kentucky in scoring 11 times and in rebounds six times.
For her career, Howard has 841 points in 46 career games and needs just 159 more to join Kentucky's 1,000-point club.
Kentucky (12-2, 1-1 SEC) is currently ranked No. 14 in the latest Associated Press Top 25 and will return to action Thursday at Alabama.
Kiara Lewis, Syracuse
Kiara Lewis willed Syracuse to back-to-back overtime wins over Florida State and Notre Dame last week.
Lewis had a game-high 28 points and scored the game-tying three-pointer with under 10 seconds remaining in regulation in a 74-63 overtime win over Notre Dame on Sunday afternoon that snapped a 16-game losing streak to the Irish. Lewis scored six of Syracuse's 14 points during the overtime period as the Orange outscored Notre Dame 14-3.
Earlier in the week she led the team with 21 points in Syracuse's 90-89 overtime upset over the previously unbeaten Florida State on Thursday. She shot 50 percent from the field, was 8-for-9 from the charity stripe and led the team with five assists. She set the screen on the game-winning play where Emily Engstler's lob with .8 seconds remaining beat the buzzer for Syracuse's first win over a top-10 opponent since 2016.
Lewis and the Orange won back-to-back overtime games at home for the first time since 1988 in Manley Fieldhouse. The redshirt junior averaged 24.5 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game over the 2-0 week. She shot 41.4 percent from the field and had just four turnovers in 38.5 minutes per game.
Syracuse, 8-6 overall and 2-1 in ACC play, is back in action on the road Sunday in Coral Gables, Fla., when the Orange face Miami (FL).
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Natasha Mack, Oklahoma State
Oklahoma State junior forward Natasha Mack became just the second player nationally since 1999-00 to record 25-plus points, 20-plus rebounds, and nine blocked shots in a game as the Cowgirls opened Big 12 Conference play with a 67-49 win over Kansas.
Mack’s 25-20-9 stat line was one short of the second triple-double in Oklahoma State history. Mack joined New Mexico State's Brooke Salas as the second player to post a similar stat line since 2000, with Salas accomplishing the feat in 2018. With the win, Oklahoma State improved to 10-3 and handed the Jayhawks their first loss (11-1) to leave five remaining unbeatens in the nation.
Earlier in the week on Dec. 30, Oklahoma State closed out its non-conference schedule with an 84-41 victory over Duquesne. The Cowgirls were led by Vivian Gray, who finished with a game-high 23 points to go with four rebounds, four steals and a career-high nine assists, while Mack added 21 points and 11 rebounds for her 10th double-double of the season.
Oklahoma State will close out a five-game homestand on Jan. 8 when they host Oklahoma.
Chanelle Molina, Washington State
Washington State senior Chanelle Molina averaged a Pac-12 Conference-best 27.5 points per game and shot a league-high 71.8% (23-of-32) from the floor in a pair of contests at Stanford and at California.
Molina opened her monster weekend with a then-season-high 27-point outing at No. 4 Stanford on Jan. 3. The sharp-shooter connected on 11 of her 16 attempts from the field in the 77-58 loss in Maples Pavilion, which included a 5-of-8 effort from behind the arc, to move into fourth on Washington State’s all-time 3-point field goals made list.
The guard flirted with a triple-double at Cal on Sunday, Jan. 5, as she scored a season-best 28 points, pulled down eight rebounds and dished out a season-high eight assists to guide Washington State to its first win inside Haas Pavilion since Feb. 12, 2011. Molina went 12-of-16 (75%) from the floor against the Golden Bears, as she recorded her second-straight contest with a field goal percentage of 68.8% -or-better on the weekend. She also added four steals and a block to her ledger in 37 minutes of action as the Cougars prevailed 96-75.
For the season, Molina is second on the team and fifth in the Pac-12 in scoring at 16.3 points per game. Molina has scored double-digits in all but two games this season. The do-it-all guard also leads the team in assists at 4.3 per contest, while her 6.1 caroms per contest is second-best for the Cougars.
Washington State, 8-7 and 1-2, looks to get even in Pac-12 Conference play this Saturday, as they travel across the Evergreen State to take on Washington at the Alaska Airlines Arena.