Around the NCAAW Weekly: Gonzaga zaps No. 3 Stanford, while No. 1 South Carolina survives Tobacco Road tests

Around the NCAAW Weekly: Gonzaga zaps No. 3 Stanford, while No. 1 South Carolina survives Tobacco Road tests

The 2023-24 women’s college hoops season continues to gift us great games and memorable moments. Here’s the best on-court happenings from Monday, Nov. 27 to Sunday, Dec. 3.


Upset hour

No. 3 Stanford (8-1) is undefeated no more, as Gonzaga (8-2) punctured the Cardinal’s perfect record with a rollicking home win. It also appears No. 25 Princeton’s stay in the top 25 will be short lived, as the Tigers (5-3) were taken down by the Rams of Rhode Island (6-3).

It also was a bad week for the big schools in Mississippi. After both dropping home games as part of the ACC/SEC Challenge (see more below), the No. 19 Rebels (6-3) and No. 21 Bulldogs (8-2) both suffered a second-straight upset loss.

Gonzaga 96, No. 3 Stanford 78

A 32-16 third quarter, along with matching 27-point performances from senior forward Yvonne Ejim and senior guard Brynna Maxwell, propelled the Zags to the authoritative upset, 96-78. Third-ranked Stanford is the highest-ranked opponent Gonzaga has ever defeated, while the Bulldogs also handed the Cardinal their worst loss since 2020. The Cardinal received limited contributions from star senior forward Cameron Brink, who played only 11 minutes due to an illness. Brink did manage to go 4-for-4 from the floor, scoring 10 points and grabbing six rebounds before exiting.

Chattanooga 59, No. 21 Mississippi State 53

The Mocs (8-1) engineered a second-half comeback to score the program’s first victory over a top 25 team since 2014. Holding Mississippi State to just eight fourth-quarter points, Chattanooga hit just enough jumpers down the stretch—including the dagger 3 by sophomore forward Raven Thompson with under two minutes remaining—to give them the edge and eventual 59-53 win. Thompson finished with 14 points, as did senior guard Jada Guinn. Off the bench, freshman guard Hannah Kohn hit four 3s.

Rhode Island 60, No. 25 Princeton 58

A back-and-forth second half resulted in a down-to-the-wire 60-58 win for Rhode Island, with senior guard Teisha Hyman hitting what would be the game-winning bucket with just over 30 seconds remaining. Senior guard Dee Dee Davis led the Rams with 21 points, boosted by a 4-for-6 effort from behind the arc. For the Tigers, it was a rough afternoon for senior guard Kaitlyn Chen, who struggled her way to seven points.

Southern Miss 61, No. 19 Ole Miss 59

Senior guard Domonique Davis contorted herself with control, converting a step-through layup with 15 seconds remaining to give Southern Miss a three-point edge over Ole Miss. After a bucket by Ole Miss senior guard Marquesha Davis cut the margin to one, Southern Miss junior guard Nyla Jean went 1-for-2 from the foul line before securing the 61-59 win for the Lady Eagles with a steal as the buzzer sounded.

The win preserved Southern Miss’s undefeated start to the season. 25 points from Davis, including a perfect 8-for-8 performance from the free throw line, helped the Lady Eagles earn a 7-0 record.

Informative outcomes

The past week presented a pair of events featuring a total of 14 ranked teams in action: the ACC/SEC Challenge and the Jimmy V Women’s Classic. Let’s revisit the consequential results from both events.

No. 18 Notre Dame, No. 1 South Carolina comebacks highlight inaugural ACC/SEC Challenge

The first ACC/SEC Challenge resulted in eight wins for the SEC and six victories for the ACC.

The ACC owned the first night, with a 10-point victory by Florida (6-1) over Georgia Tech (5-2) serving as the SEC’s lone win. A second-half comeback by No. 18 Notre Dame (6-1) at No. 20 Tennessee (4-3) highlighted the Wednesday night action. Trailing by 16 points with just over seven minutes remaining the third quarter, the Fighting Irish finished furiously to escape Knoxville with a five-point win, 74-69. The frontcourt tandem of juniors Maddy Westbeld and Nat Marshall led Notre Dame, each scoring 15 points; Westbeld added 11 boards and Marshall grabbed nine.

No. 22 Louisville (7-1) and Miami (6-0) both went into Mississippi to score upsets over Ole Miss and Mississippi State, respectively. Senior wing Kiki Jefferson captained the Cardinals’ 64-58 win over the Rebels with 16 points, while a 50-percent performance from 3, led by a 3-for-4 effort from junior guard Jasmyne Roberts and 3-for-6 showing from sophomore guard Lemyah Hilton, helped the Hurricanes get past the Bulldogs, 74-68.

Thursday night belonged to the SEC, with six wins to the ACC’s three. However, it was a much closer call than expected for No. 1 South Carolina (6-0). The high-scoring Gamecocks struggled to put points on at board, trailing by as many as 11 points in the first half at No. 24 UNC (5-3). The relatively-young Gamecocks found the resolve needed—first to come back and then to hold off the Tarheels for the 65-58 win. South Carolina’s most experienced player—senior guard Te-Hina Paopao—was crucial, with 14 points, five rebounds and four assists. Junior guard Bree Hall also hit a trio of huge 3s on her way to a season-high 15 points. UNC did contain senior center Kamilla Cardoso, who scored just six points before fouling out. Senior guard Deja Kelly led the Tarheels with 20 points, with senior wing Alyssa Ustby doing a bit of everything as she totaled 18 points, 12 boards, three assists and three blocks.

Arkansas (7-1) earned a resounding 71-58 upset over No. 15 Florida State (5-2). Freshman guard Taliah Scott once again was a scorching scorer with 24 points, while sophomore wing Saylor Poffenbarger continued to grab boards without abandon, securing a school-record 23 rebounds.

Although the return of star junior forward Angel Reese dominated the headlines for the between No. 7 LSU (8-1) and No. 9 Virginia Tech (5-2), the bigger story should be the prospect of the fully-loaded Lady Tigers rounding into the team they were expected to be. While the Hokies won the first quarter, the Lady Tigers took the remaining three to run away with the 82-64 win—the 700th career win for head coach Kim Mulkey. Reese and junior wing Aneesah Morrow each put up 19 points; Reese approached a double-double with nine rebounds, while Morrow easily surpassed the double-double mark with 15 boards. Mikaylah Williams led LSU with 20 points; the freshman wing also had six boards and five assists. LSU also induced fifth-year center Elizabeth Kitley and senior guard Georgia Amoore into inefficient nights, as both members of Virginia Tech’s star pairing had to take lots of shots to get to their 16 and 25 points, respectively.

Jimmy V Classic sees No. 1 South Carolina, No. 10 Texas remain undefeated

No. 1 South Carolina claimed a second corner of North Carolina’s Research Triangle on Sunday, defeating Duke (5-3), 77-61. However, our Edwin Garcia’s pregame thoughts proved prophetic. Edwin noted that Duke would need the 3s to fall to knock off South Carolina. The Blue Devils did have it working from behind the arc—going 11-for-23, with junior guard Reigan Richardson hitting five triples and sophomore guard Ashlon Jackson adding three treys—but it was not enough to overcome the Gamecocks.

South Carolina also succeeded from deep, shooting 60 percent behind matching 3-for-4 performances from junior guard Bree Hall and sophomore guard Raven Johnson. All South Carolina starters, including Hall and Johnson, finished in double figures, led by senior big Kamilla Cardoso’s 15 points, more than half of which came in the fourth quarter. After beginning the season by showing they could blow out opponents in spectacular fashion, the Gamecocks’ most recent victories have demonstrated that they have the grit needed to gut out closer contests.

In Sunday afternoon’s second contest, No. 10 Texas (9-0) secured the wire-to-wire 80-68 statement win over No. 11 UConn (4-3), with the Longhorns not only beating the Huskies for the first time in program history but also handing the Huskies a third loss. Never has UConn suffered three losses this early in a season.

Texas junior guard Rori Harmon introduced herself to the national audience, with the two-way dynamo finishing with a double-double of 27 points and 13 assists while also holding UConn star guard Paige Bueckers in check. Bueckers shot 4-for-11 from the field to finish with 13 points. As Texas head coach Vic Shafer said of Harmon after the game, “Rori not only ran our team, she guarded the best two-guard in the country.”

Also, add Madison Booker to the list of freshmen putting up fantastic performances in the season’s early weeks; the Texas forward clocked 40 minutes and a career-high 20 points.

No. 16 Ohio State (6-1) outclassed No. 20 Tennessee in the afternoon’s final affair, with the Buckeyes running away on Rocky Top 78-58 to hand the Lady Vols a second-straight loss.

Ohio State, appears ascendant, enjoying contributions from up and down the roster. In the first half, sophomore forward Cotie McMahon was a force for the Buckeyes, scoring all of her 19 points. Grad big Rebeka Mikulášiková showed off her versatility, draining a trio of 3s on her way to 18 points. Grad guard Jacy Sheldon did a bit of everything, finishing with 13 points, seven rebounds, six assists and four steals. The Lady Vols have to hope fifth-year wing Rickea Jackson can return soon; Tennessee desperately needs her offensive dynamism.

Superb single-game performances

Enjoy some—but by no means all—of the impressive efforts from across the past week of women’s college hoops action:

  • Junior forward Kierra Wheeler notched a 29-point and 15-rebound double-double to power Norfolk State past Chicago State.
  • Fifth-year guard Zaay Green notched a triple-double of 19 points, 11 rebounds and 16 assists as Arkansas Pine-Bluff ran away from Arkansas Baptist.
  • Junior guard Madison Conner dropped 41 points, helping the TCU defeat Tulsa and extend their record to 8-0—the best start in program history.
  • Junior guard Lucy Olsen, who scored 40 points earlier this season, continued her fantastic start scoring start, with 30 points in Villanova’s victory over Richmond.
  • Grad wing Brinae Alexander helped address Maryland’s shooting and scoring woes, draining 7-of-9 3s of her way to 29 points as the Terrapins racked up 114 points in a demolition of Niagara.
  • Fifth-year forward Taylor Jones was perfect, converting all 11 of her field goal attempts as she scored 27 points, and grabbed 15 rebounds, in Texas’ thrashing of Oral Roberts.
  • Senior guard Taylor Donaldson helped Fordham smoke St. Peter’s with a career-high 35 points.
  • Freshman guard Mia Moore propelled UAB past Jacksonville State with 27 points and 14 rebounds. Although just 5-foot-8, Moore is averaging 9.4 boards on the season.
  • Junior big Amhyia Moreland and sophomore guard Sabrina Ma were a dynamic duo in San Jose State’s blowout of Bethesda, with Moreland tallying a double-double of 26 points and 12 rebounds while Ma sunk seven 3s as she scored 31 points.

Season-long leaderboard

Last week, we highlighted leaders in major traditional statistical categories. This week, let’s give some shine to those at the top of advanced statistical categories, per Sports Reference CBB. The names that appear repeatedly on these lists provide a strong sense of the players who have had the most impact on their team’s successes through the first month of the season.

  • Iowa senior Caitlin Clark leads the nation in win shares at 3.3, followed by Stanford senior Cameron Brink (2.9), TCU junior Madison Conner (2.7), Utah fifth-year Alissa Pili (2.6) and Wofford junior Rachel Rose. Per 40 minutes, Brink takes the national lead, with .634 win shares. Pilli is third and Clark fifth per 40 minutes, with .532 and .471, respectively. Second in win shares per 40 is Oregon State sophomore Raegan Beers; fourth is Cleveland State senior Destiny Leo.
  • Most of Clark’s win shares are, unsurprisingly, derived from the offensive side of the ball; she leads the nation with 2.7 offensive win shares. Brink, Conner and Gonzaga senior Yvonne Ejim follow with 2.0 offensive win shares each.
  • Defensive win shares introduces different names, led by Georgetown senior Kelsey Ransom with 1.2. At 1.0 defensive wins shares is Texas junior Rori Harmon and LSU junior Aneesah Morrow.
  • The box plus/minus top 10 features a number of well-known names. Brink outpaces all comers at 31.4, with Clark (22.4), Pili (21.8) and Beers (21.0) next. Fantastic freshmen in Notre Dame’s Hannah Hidalgo (20.7) and USC’s JuJu Watkins (20.5) then follow. UConn redshirt junior Paige Bueckers (20.4), South Carolina senior Kamilla Cardoso (20.3), Ohio State junior Taylor Thierry (19.5) and Kansas State senior Ayoka Lee (19.0) complete the top 10.
  • Brink also leads the pack in offensive and defensive box/plus minus. Offensively, Brink is at 19.2, followed by Pili (17.1), Clark (16.9), Beers (15.7) and Ejim (14.7). Defensively, it’s Hidalgo (11.1), South Carolina sophomore Raven Johnson (11.0), Harmon (9.6) and Cardoso (9.2) behind Brink’s 12.2.
  • Utah’s offensive rating is 157.7 when Pili is on the court, the nation’s best mark. UNLV junior Alyssa Durazo-Frescas (149.6), Utah junior Ines Vieira (149.6) Marquette senior Rose Nkumu (148.3) and Thierry (147.0) also are seeing their teams thrive offensively when they are on the court.
  • Old Dominion sports a stingy defensive rating of 57.7 when senior Kaye Clark is the on the court. Cardoso (58.2), Brink (59.5), Harmon (60.9) and Ransom (61.4) also help their teams prevent opponents from putting points on the board at nation-leading levels.

More milestones

Here are some of the most notable records that players, coaches and teams approached or broke over the past week:

A look ahead

As the holidays approach, the non-conference slate begins to slow, with fewer high-profile matchups on schedule. However, Mohegan Sun Arena will host the Hall of Fame Women’s Showcase on Sunday.

Hall of Fame Women’s Showcase

Sunday, Dec. 10

No. 2 UCLA vs. No. 15 Florida State (12 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

No. 12 Utah vs. No. 1 South Carolina (2:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)

No. 24 North Carolina vs. No. 11 UConn (5 p.m. ET, ESPN)

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