February 7, 2023 

The Weekly Fast Break: Honoring a legend in Kay Yow

Top ten victories and triple-double highlights

Sports have a way of bringing people together in ways that we might not ever think could be possible. The intensity of a rivalry and the thin margins between winning and losing usually keeps us in our separate corners, not wanting to mingle with the competition. Yet when the time comes for us to stand with our opponents in support of something that needs our attention, we unite to showcase what sports really are all about. Each year, the women’s basketball community joins forces in February to support “Play 4 Kay”, the initiative to raise research funds and awareness for cancers that effect women in honor of legendary head coach, the late Kay Yow.

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All throughout the weekend and this upcoming week, teams wear pink uniforms, sport pink shoes, headbands, and T-shirts promoting the Kay Yow Fund with the V Foundation. Coach Yow was not only tough on the sidelines, but valiantly fought cancer for many years before passing in 2009. Her legacy was teaching and winning and now, bringing people together for a common cause.

Cancer touches all our lives in some form or fashion. It does not care what you look like, how old you are, where you live or if you are a Hawkeye, Huskie, Trojan, or Longhorn fan. This week, when you see players and coaches uniting, The Weekly Fast Break hopes it inspires you to cherish the playing time given to you and play for those who you care about the most. When we all work together, we can do great things on and off the court.

TIP-OFF

Answering the Gamecock Crow: With its consistent success over the past few seasons, there are not many “firsts” left in South Carolina women’s basketball history. On Sunday, the No. 1 team in the nation secured the program’s first win ever at Connecticut, beating #4 UConn, 81-77 to stay undefeated on the season. Dawn Staley lauded her team’s attention to detail in a match-up that created an atmosphere she said was “national championship-like.” Senior Aliyah Boston led three Gamecock players in double-figures with 26 points (23 in the second half) and she also added 11 rebounds. UConn had four starters hit double figures, powered by forward Aaliyah Edwards with 25 points. Down the stretch it was rebounding and free-throw shooting that helped South Carolina secure the historic win and sets the table for a big week ahead. The Gamecocks will travel to Auburn on Feb. 9 and then host undefeated #3 LSU on Sunday, Feb. 12 at home. All eyes will be on Columbia, SC for this matchup.

CAUTION! Turtle Crossing: #8 Maryland had won five Big Ten games in a row before suffering a 96-82 road loss at #5 Iowa on Feb. 2. How would the Terrapins respond? Coach Brenda Frese got exactly the answer she was looking for as Maryland dismantled #13 Ohio State at home on Sunday, 90-54. They held the Buckeyes to just seven points in the first quarter and got their third win this season over a Top-10 team. Senior Diamond Miller registered her fourth double-double of the year with 29 points and 10 rebounds and fellow senior Abby Meyers chipped in 22 points, 11 coming in the first 10 minutes. Even with the return of guard Jacy Sheldon to their line-up, Ohio State never had an answer for Maryland on either end of the floor, turning it over 24 times and committing 22 fouls which led to 16-for-18 from line for the Terrapins. These two teams have reacted very differently to setback losses this season – Ohio State has lost four of its last five games while Maryland has not lost more than one game in a row all year. The message in the Big Ten after Sunday seems to be “fear the turtle.”

Seniors Diamond Miller (#1) and Abby Meyers (#10) led #8 Maryland to a decisive win over Big Ten rival #13 Ohio State on Sunday.
(Photo credit: Dominec Allegra/The Next)

March Madness in February: It might not seem possible, but Selection Sunday for the 2023 NCAA Tournament is less that 50 days away. The NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Committee is set to make its first Top 16 on Thursday, Feb. 9 at halftime of the Stanford at Arizona game which will air on ESPN, tipping off at 9:30 pm ET. This reveal will give us the first glimpse into the committee’s take on the season so far, with a selection process based on numerous criteria, including NET rankings, significant wins, and strength of conferences to name a few. The second announcement by the committee during the regular season will take place two weeks later on February 23 during halftime of the South Carolina-Tennessee game. That game is also on ESPN with a 7 pm ET tip. 

Poll Watch: #1 South Carolina continues to be the unanimous choice yet again atop this week’s AP Top 25 poll. Indiana climbs two spots to their first appearance ever at #2 in the poll, with LSU, UConn and Iowa rounding out the top five. With the loss to Washington, Stanford drops to #6 and #21 Iowa State taking the biggest fall this week, down nine spots after back-to-back losses in Big 12 play. Duke is up seven spots to #9 and Michigan rises to #12, up six from a week ago. #25 Colorado is back in the Top 25 after beating Oregon and Oregon State, but Middle Tennessee State drops out after they also lost twice this week.


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STAR POWER

Sometimes we are in complete amazement of the performances we see every week and it is so hard to choose which ones we should shine our light on here at The Weekly Fast Break. Players that break records, even their own, most definitely deserve a moment in the spotlight. Iowa guard Caitlin Clark continues to set the Big Ten record for triple-doubles, breaking her own each time in the process. The junior guard had 23 points, 10 rebounds at 14 assists in the Hawkeyes 95-51 win at Penn State on Sunday. It was Clark’s ninth career triple-double, which ties her with Lamar’s Chastadie Barrs for the second-most in NCAA Division I history. She was also named Big Ten Player of the Week, her fifth time this season.

Saint Louis University fifth-year senior Brooke Flowers recorded the first triple-double in program history on Feb. 1, posting 10 points, 18 rebounds and 11 blocks in the Billikens 68-56 win over George Mason. Flowers was named Atlantic-10 Player of the Week for averaging a double-double (13 points and 15 rebounds) in two victories that extended her team’s winning streak to three games. The 6’5 center joins Cameron Brink of Stanford as the only Division I players, women or men, to register a points/rebounds/blocks triple-double this year.

The West Coast Conference Player and Freshman of the Week awards are starting to sound like a broken record with the same two players earning the recognitions for the third straight week. Alex Fowler, the junior guard from Portland, was named Player of the Week after she averaged 24.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and two steals this past weekend helping the Pilots get two more wins to move into a tie for first place in the WCC. This was Fowler’s fourth WCC honor of the season. Santa Clara’s Tess Heal earned her ninth Freshman of the Week award after averaging 19 points, 5 assists, and two rebounds while shooting over 50 percent from the floor in two games against the WCC’s top-two teams (Gonzaga and Portland). The 5’10 guard had 16 points in Santa Clara’s 77-72 upset win of #23 Gonzaga on Feb. 2.

Statement wins for programs usually have a player or two that step into the spotlight and embrace the opportunity to perform. Washington freshman Elle Ladine did just that on Sunday as the Huskies upset #6 Stanford 72-67 at home. Ladine, a 5’11 guard from San Francisco, CA, came off the bench to lead all scorers with 21 points, going 8-17 from the floor and earning the Pac-12 Freshman of the Week award. She also had 10 points in her team’s win over Cal on Friday night, helping them get their first sweep of their Bay Area rivals since 2005-06. Ladine is the first Washington player to collect the freshmen recognition since the 2020-21 season 

SHOT CLOCK VIOLATION

On Jan. 29, the Duke Blue Devils traveled to Florida State for a key ACC match-up. The Seminoles won the game 70-57. Four days later after beating Pitt at home, Duke head coach Kara Lawson brought up an interesting and controversial topic – unprompted – in her post-game media session. Lawson and her Duke program claim that during the first half of the Florida State game a men’s regulation sized basketball was used instead of the standard women’s ball. The circumference of a women’s ball (28.5”) is approximately an inch smaller than a men’s ball, and it is typically 2 ounces lighter. According to Lawson, her players “were complaining about the ball” in the first half, a 20-minute span where her team went 7-for-23 from the field and Florida State went 10-of-30. After a Duke assistant coach apparently complained, the ball was changed at halftime.

Duke says that their review of the situation concluded that it was a men’s ball, but the ACC did its own review, talking with game officials, administrators, the table crew and both schools. “Following the thorough and objective review process, there was no evidence found to support the claim,” the conference said in a statement. “Per NCAA playing rules, there is no appeal or protest process.”

You will be hard pressed to convince us that in a Division I college basketball setting like this where a host of people touch and test the game ball prior to tip off, that such an error occurred. That means that three highly experienced ACC officials, athletic department personnel who serve as game administrators, experienced table crew members who manage the clock, official book, and score and even team managers who help the officials check the weight of the air pressure of the ball prior to the game all did not notice they had a men’s ball in their hands. The ACC made it quite clear that they do not believe Lawson’s claim. Our question is why did she wait four days to say something about it? If it was such an egregious error, why did it not come up in the post-game press conference immediately after in Tallahassee? We will be waiting to see when this topic comes up again, most likely this week and for many more after as well.


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FULL COURT PRESS

Each week the games we see across the country not only get us closer to the post-season but impact polls and standings with one “charge or block” call. Conference rematches are coming back around the corner for leagues with round-robin scheduling, along with a host of rivalry games. We still have byes scattered throughout so some days and nights still may seem slower than others. Regardless, there is no time to overlook anyone or forget to set the DVR. Super Bowl Sunday is Feb. 12, so be sure to see that your Chiefs’ red or Eagles’ green is clean and ready to wear: (check your local listings for game times and broadcasts):

Feb. 7 – #16 Oklahoma at (R/V) Baylor

                Tulsa at SMU

Feb. 8 –   Stetson at (R/V) FGCU

                Texas Tech at #20 Texas

Feb. 9 – #19 Florida State at Miami

                 #5 Iowa at #2 Indiana

                 #9 Duke at Boston College

                 Western Kentucky at (R/V) Middle Tennessee St.

                 Fairfield at Iona

                 Stony Brook at Northeastern

                 (R/V) Illinois at Nebraska

                 #6 Stanford at #17 Arizona (WATCH WITH US ON PLAYBACK FOR FREE!)

Feb. 10 – Southern Illinois at Illinois State

                 Oregon State at #18 UCLA

                 Oregon at (R/V) USC

Feb. 11 – Portland at #23 Gonzaga (WATCH WITH US ON PLAYBACK FOR FREE!)

                 Harvard at Penn

                South Dakota State at South Dakota

                (R/V) Baylor at Oklahoma State

                (R/V) UNLV at Boise State 

Feb. 12 – #1 South Carolina at #3 LSU (WATCH WITH US ON PLAYBACK FOR FREE!)

                 Boston College at #14 UNC

                 (R/V) Illinois at #8 Maryland

                 Washington State at #7 Utah

                 #19 Florida State at #11 Virginia Tech

                Miami at #9 Duke

                #16 Oklahoma at Kansas State

                Houston at #24 South Florida

                Northern Iowa at Valparaiso

                Oregon at #18 UCLA

                Syracuse at #10 Notre Dame

                Auburn at Alabama

Written by Missy Heidrick

I am a former shooting guard at Kansas State and spent almost 20 years working in Higher Education and Division 1 athletics. I am currently a basketball analyst for television and radio, contributing correspondent at The Next, WBB Naismith Award board of selectors member and run my own consulting business. I am a proud mother of two and wife to a patient husband who is almost as big of a sports junkie as I am!

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