Let’s take a look at some of Saturday’s top performers.
The entire first round is over, but let’s take a look at some of Saturday’s top individual performers. I ultimately came up with seven players who either led their teams to upset or major wins, OR were players who still had very strong performances despite a loss.
If there’s one common theme I have between these seven players who had strong performances, it’s that five of them come from non-power conference schools.
Let’s get to the players who have made some top-notch performances yesterday.
Stasha Carey, Fr., Pittsburgh
Carey averaged 9.2 point and 7.6 rebounds a game this season for the Panthers. But during their 51-40 win over the Chattanooga Lady Mocs, she scored 16 points, grabbed 13 rebounds, dished 3 assists, and blocked three shots. An all out excellent performance for the freshman, who has a bright future ahead.
Kaneisha Atwater, So., FGCU
The redshirt junior has played a major role for the Eagles, who have won 26 straight games, and are 31-2 this season. Atwater led all scorers with 26 points on 10 of 17 shooting, made 2 of 5 three pointers, and grabbed 8 rebounds during their 75-67 win over the Oklahoma State Cowgirls.
I’ll also add this with FGCU’s win. This is the second consecutive year that FGCU played Oklahoma State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Last season, they fell short 61-60, so that makes this win even sweeter for the Eagles.
Ameryst Alston, Jr., Ohio State
Alston, along with Big Ten co-Player of the Year Kelsey Mitchell make up one of the top backcourts in women’s college basketball, and for good reason. They average a combined 44.4 points and 8.1 assists per game.
But in the Buckeyes’ 90-80 win over a pesky JMU team, Alston led all scorers with 28 points and also dished 8 assists. Mitchell also scored 23 points, but she was hampered by foul trouble and only played 28 minutes which forced Alston to shoulder more of the load, and she delivered while playing all 40 minutes in the game, which is why I give her the nod for a top performance.
Taylor Gault, Sr., Arkansas-Little Rock
Gault scored 25 points to lead all scorers in the Trojans’ 69-60 win over Texas A&M. She also made five of her seven three point shots. Gault also contributed in other areas, where she dished four assists and stole the ball three times which led all Trojan players.
However, she had another player who made an equally big impact in the game, which is her teammate (just read below)
Kiera Clark, Sr., Arkansas Little-Rock
Clark only started 8 of the Trojans’ games this season — this one was no different. However, she scored 22 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to form a strong 1-2 punch along with the aforementioned Gault.
Without Clark and Gault’s combined 47 points, the Trojans would have easily lost to the Aggies, so it’s worthy giving two players from the same team a nod on this list.
Ashlee Guay, Sr., Cal State Northridge
The Matadors’ leading scorer had an excellent game despite a 73-60 loss to Stanford, as she ended up with 27 points while shooting 11 of 23 from the field. Yes, it was a double digit loss, but CS-Northridge was actually leading 29-28 at halftime, thanks to … you guessed it! A Guay layup in the closing seconds.
No other Matador player scored more than 8 points in the game or shot particularly well, so without her efforts, this game could have ended up with a rather ugly result.
Annie Tarakchian, Jr., Princeton
Tarakchian nearly averages a double double as it is for the Tigers, where she averages 10.4 points and 9.4 rebounds a contest along with 2.7 assists. But in their 80-70 win against Green Bay, she scored 19 points (including three three pointers), grabbed 17 rebounds, and dished 5 assists. Tarakchian’s 17 rebounds alone were part of the reason why Princeton was able to control the game in the end. In fact, they more than doubled up the Phoenix on that end (49 vs. 22).