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Rick Nixon, | March 4, 2020

Women's basketball: Anastasia Hayes' 37 points against Western Kentucky leads this week's Starting Five

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Each week throughout the season the STARTING FIVE will highlight the top NCAA Division I women’s basketball performances from the previous week.

Bella Alarie, Princeton

Bella Alarie of Princeton women's basketball

Bella Alarie led Princeton to a 3-0 week and celebrated her final two games at home for Princeton, averaging 19.3 points per game as the Tigers clinched the 2019-20 Ivy League regular season championship.

Alarie opened up last week's action with a 21-point, seven-rebound outing as the Tigers took down Penn, 80-44. She also added two assists, two blocks and a steal as Princeton clinched an Ivy Tournament berth.

On Friday, Princeton clinched a share of the Ivy title with an 81-39 takedown of Brown. In that contest, Alarie scored 18 points, pulled down six rebounds and had four blocks.

She celebrated Senior Day on Feb. 29, scoring 19 points with 13 boards as the No. 21 Tigers wrapped up the outright Ivy crown with a 64-49 decision over Yale.

Princeton, 24-1 overall and 12-0 in the Ivy, is currently riding a 20-game winning streak which is tied for the second longest streak in the NCAA. The Tigers wrap up the regular season at Columbia (March 6) and Cornell (March 7) this weekend.

Lauren Cox, Baylor

Baylor's Lauren Cox

Baylor senior Lauren Cox's all-around week helped lead the Lady Bears to their 11th overall and 10th-straight Big 12 Conference regular season title.

Cox averaged 17 points, 9.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 2.5 steals and 2.0 blocks in wins at West Virginia and at home over Kansas State.

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Feb. 24 at West Virginia, Cox had 12 points, nine rebounds, five assists, two blocks and a steal. The win clinched at least a share of the Big 12 title before TCU's loss Tuesday helped Baylor clinch the title outright.

Against Kansas State on Saturday, Cox scored a season-high 22 points to go along with 10 rebounds as the Lady Bears rolled to an 83-58 win. It marked the 35th double-double of her career, which ranks seventh all-time on the Baylor career list. She added two blocks and tied a season high with four steals on the defensive end.

Baylor, 27-1 overall and 16-0 in the Big 12, will close out the regular season by hosting Texas (March 5) and traveling to Iowa State (March 8).

Rennia Davis, Tennessee

Tennessee's Rennia Davis

Tennessee junior forward Rennia Davis put together back-to-back double-double efforts last week to help the Lady Vols close out the regular season with three consecutive wins and record the program's 43rd 20-win season in the past 44 years.

Davis averaged 20.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists in wins over Ole Miss and Auburn that helped Tennessee forge a tie for third in the Southeastern Conference. Davis shot 48.4 percent from the field (15-31), 33.3 percent from long range (2-6) and 81.8 from the free-throw line (9-11) in recording her 10th and 11th double-doubles of the season and her sixth 20+ point effort of the campaign. She now has scored in double figures in 26 straight games and has done so in 40 of her last 41 contests.

Davis was Tennessee's only player in double figures in the regular season finale at Auburn on Sunday, connecting on nine of 18 shots and three of four attempts at the charity stripe to finish with a game-high 22 points and 10 rebounds to go along with three assists as Tennessee prevailed 56-55. She also was instrumental in a defensive effort that limited Auburn to 55 points just one game after the Tigers had scored 95 on the road at Missouri.

Against Ole Miss last Thursday, Davis was good for 19 points, 11 rebounds and four assists as Tennessee won 77-66 to improve to 13-3 at home in 2019-20. The effort was one of 20 this season that Davis has paced the Lady Vols in scoring and one of 13 as the team's leading rebounder.

Tennessee, 20-9 and 10-6 SEC, will next play in the SEC Tournament's second round on Thursday against the winner of Wednesday's tilt between No. 11 seed Missouri and No. 14 Ole Miss.

Haley Gorecki, Duke

Duke's Haley Gorecki

Duke closed the regular season with three games on the road over a seven day period, going 2-1 as Haley Gorecki averaged 20.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 2.7 steals.

Gorecki helped lead Duke to a 70-65 upset victory at eighth-ranked NC State on Feb. 24 with 24 points, five assists, four rebounds, two steals and one block in 40 minutes, while having only one turnover. The 6-0 guard scored Duke's final five points of the contest to seal the victory for the Blue Devils.

Gorecki closed the regular season with another outstanding all-around game at North Carolina with 23 points, nine rebounds, five assists and three steals as Duke secured the No. 3 seed in the ACC Tournament with a 73-54 victory. She hit 8-of-14 field goals and drained four treys in 39 minutes. Gorecki has now faced North Carolina five times over her career and totaled 20 or more points in four of those games.

She added 13 points, five assists, three steals and two rebounds on the road at Virginia Tech in a 70-56 loss.

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During the week, Gorecki became the sixth Blue Devil to reach 500 points in back-to-back seasons.

The Blue Devils (18-11) will open the ACC Tournament Friday, March 6 against either Boston College, Miami or Clemson.

Anastasia Hayes, Middle Tennessee

Middle Tennessee's Anastasia Hayes

In one of the top games of the season, Middle Tennessee topped rival Western Kentucky 108-103 in double-overtime on Feb. 29 as sophomore guard Anastasia Hayes scored a career-high 37 points and combined with her freshman sister Aislynn Hayes for 62 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists.

The 108 points for Middle Tennessee are the fifth-most in Conference USA history and the 211 combined points were the most in Lady Raider history and also marked only the second time it had happened in Conference USA history. The win ended the Lady Hilltoppers’ 10-game win streak.

Hayes fueled the historic performance as her 37 points were the second most in Conference USA this season and the most against a conference foe. Hayes was 15-of-19 from the free-throw line, with the 15 free throws tying the fourth most in Lady Raider history. Hayes came up big in the clutch with 12 points, three rebounds and three assists in the overtime periods, including 8-of-10 at the free-throw line. Aislynn Hayes backed her sister with a career-high 25 points, connecting on 10-of-19 from the field while playing all 50 minutes in the game.

Anastasia Hayes has scored 20-plus points in seven games this season and 30-plus twice.

Middle Tennessee, 19-9 overall and 11-5 in C-USA, will next play host to North Texas on March 5.

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