Each week throughout the season the Starting Five will highlight the top NCAA Division I women’s basketball performances from the previous week.
Kiah Gillespie, Florida State
Florida State senior forward Kiah Gillespie averaged a double-double in big wins over No. 5 Louisville on the road and against a gritty Virginia team at home.
Gillespie scored 25 points along with 13 rebounds in the 67-59 win over the Cardinals on Feb. 6. She followed with 22 points and eight boards in a defensive battle against the Cavaliers on Sunday, with Florida State prevailing 63-55.
Gillespie averaged 23.5 points and 10.5 rebounds while shooting 50 percent from the floor in the two games. The win over Louisville pushed Florida State’s record to 5-1 this season against Associated Press top-25 opponents, a significant win that put the Seminoles back in the mix for a possible top-16 seed for the upcoming NCAA championship.
At her best in big games, Gillespie is averaging 21.3 points, 9.5 rebounds, shooting 52.9 percent (45-of-85) and draining 43.8 percent of her 3-point field goal attempts (14-of-32) in the six games against the ranked opponents.
Gillespie and the Seminoles, 20-4 and 10-2 ACC, are currently in sole possession of third place in the ACC. Florida State next plays at Duke on Sunday.
Tyasha Harris, South Carolina
South Carolina’s Tyasha Harris led the way as the Gamecocks maintained control of the No. 1 ranking in The Associated Press' women's college basketball poll with a pair of ranked wins over the last week.
Harris was the team’s leading scorer against UConn on Monday, totaling 19 points to go along with 11 assists as South Carolina rolled to a convincing 70-52 home win over the Huskies. For the Gamecocks, it was the first-ever program win over No. 5 UConn after eight previous defeats.
The 19-11 outing was Harris’ first double-double of the season and 10th of her career. She played the full 40 minutes against UConn and did not commit a turnover. Between her points and points scored on her assists (28), Harris had her hands on 67.1 percent of the Gamecocks’ offense against the Huskies and she had a personal 10-2 run to close the first and open the second quarter against UConn, posting six points and six assists in the second quarter alone.
Earlier in the week on Feb. 6 at Arkansas, Harris inflicted her damage in the first half — scoring six points to go along with five assists and four rebounds in the opening 20 minutes — to power the Gamecocks to a 13-point halftime advantage that eventually led to an 86-65 win.
Harris has been the guiding force for the youthful Gamecocks marching to the No. 1 ranking and the top spot in the SEC standings. She leads the SEC and is ranked 16th in the nation with 5.5 assists per game, and her SEC-best 2.62 assist-to-turnover ratio is 14th in the nation. Harris has scored in double figures 18 times this season and handed out five or more assists 14 times. Between her scoring average (12.1 points per game) and points scored off her assists (12.5), she touches 29.8 percent of the Gamecocks' offense — that number jumps to 35.1 percent (12.4 points per game, 14.4 points per game off assists) in the Gamecocks' 10 games against ranked opponents.
South Carolina, 23-1 and 10-0 SEC, will return to action on Thursday at home against Auburn.
Ashley Joens, Iowa State
A five-time Big 12 Conference Player of the Week selection this season, Iowa State’s Ashley Joens played through pain in helping lead the Cyclones to wins over Oklahoma State and Oklahoma.
Against Oklahoma State, Joens tallied 23 points and 14 rebounds as Iowa State won 74-63. She added three assists and one steal to her stat line.
In the 63-59 win over the Sooners on Saturday, Joens suffered a dislocated shoulder midway through the third quarter. The sophomore left the game only to return late in the third. Joens fought through her injury to collect seven points and haul in seven rebounds in the fourth quarter alone to give Iowa State the 63-59 rebound edge over Oklahoma. She finished with 17 points and 15 boards, her 13th double-double of the season.
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Last week's wins were crucial as the Cyclones, 14-8 and 6-5 Big 12, pushed a game ahead and into sole possession of fourth place in the conference standings.
Joens and the Cyclones are back in action on Wednesday, Feb. 12 in Austin, when they take on Texas.
Michaela Onyenwere, UCLA
Michaela Onyenwere put up a pair of impressive performances in UCLA's road sweep of then-No. 6 Stanford (Feb. 7) and California (Feb. 9), helping lead the Bruins to their first Bay Area road sweep since 1999.
In the Bruins' 79-69 victory over the Cardinal, Onyenwere put up a game-high 29 points on 10-for-19 shooting, including a career-high tying three 3-pointers. Onyenwere also grabbed 10 rebounds for her sixth double-double of the year, while recording two steals and two blocks in the performance.
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Onyenwere notched 21 points in the team's 74-70 overtime victory against Cal on Sunday, including 16 points across the second half and overtime. Her final basket of the game proved to be a decisive one, as she knocked down a turnaround jumper with 25.7 seconds left in OT to put the Bruins up two. Cal could not convert at the other end, and UCLA iced the game away at the line, securing the victory. The 21 points were good for her 11th 20-plus point performance of the year.
UCLA (21-2 and 10-2 Pac-12) will next take on No. 3 Oregon on Friday, Feb. 14 at home in Pauley Pavilion.
Chelsey Perry, UT Martin
Named Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Week a record seven times this season, UT Martin’s Chelsey Perry averaged 32.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in a pair of home victories last week over Tennessee Tech and Jacksonville State as UT Martin remained in sole possession of first place in the OVC standings.
Perry had 37 points, eight rebounds, three blocks, two steaks and two assists to help the Skyhawks knock off co-leader Tennessee Tech, 71-62 on Feb. 6. Against Jacksonville State, she had 27 points and seven rebounds in just 25 minutes as UT Martin rolled to an 86-72 win.
Perry currently leads all Division I players in field goals made (200) and total points (518) while ranking third nationally with 22.5 points per game.
UT Martin, 15-8 and 11-1 OVC, will return to action with a road matchup at Southeast Missouri on Thursday, Feb. 13.