The third week of Big 12 women’s basketball is in the books. Here is this week’s Good, Bad and Ugly from the third week of basketball action.
Iowa State’s Split Decision
Iowa State’s trip to the Phil Knight Tournament last weekend turned out to be their first test against Power 6 programs. It turned into a split decision.
The Cyclones overpowered Michigan State in the opener, 80-49. The following game was a nine-point loss to No. 8 North Carolina, Iowa State’s first test against a Top 10 team this season.
What to take from this loss? Some good things:
Forward Ashley Joens is going to get hers. He ended up with 18 points, nine rebounds, and two assists.
Center Stephanie Soares can compete with high-level talent. She had 19 points, 12 rebounds, two steals and two blocks.
ISU’s defense can help build a lead. The Cyclones were up 35-22 at the break, partly thanks to that defense.
Despite the loss, I still believe at this early stage that they’re the league’s best team. But the loss underscored two things. First, the need for consistency among the supporting cast (Denae Fritz, Emily Ryan, and Lexi Donarski combined for 14 points). Second, the need for more depth. Just three players came off Iowa State’s bench.
But games like this help a team recalibrate, especially one that has so much to play for this season. If Iowa State learns from the loss the Cyclones will be better for it in March.
Texas point guard Rori Harmon returned to the lineup on Sunday against Princeton. Harmon had 11 points, a rebound, and two assists in her season debut. She played just 22 minutes in a 74-50 win where the Longhorns never lost control of the game.
Harmon is returning just in time. The Longhorns need to build chemistry in December before league play begins.
What was most interesting was which player went to the bench to accommodate Harmon’s return. It was forward Deyona Gaston. Taylor Jones, the 6-foot-4 transfer from Oregon State, should be the full-time starter alongside Aaliyah Moore moving forward.
Littlepage-Buggs’ impressive start
The Baylor Bears would love to have both of their transfers, Aijha Blackwell and Dre’una Edwards on the floor. But Blackwell is hurt and it’s not clear when she’ll be back. Edwards is sidelined by eligibility issues.
No one has benefited more than freshman Darianna Littlepage-Buggs, a 6-foot-1 guard who is averaging 8.5 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. She’s the team’s leading rebounder.
She put together a double-double against Maryland before Thanksgiving — 16 points and 12 rebounds. Against Villanova and Michigan this past weekend, she had eight points and 11 rebounds combined. That’s life as a freshman in major college basketball. The good news is she’s getting great experience while guards like Sarah Andrews and Ja’Mee Asberry provide the scoring punch. Littlepage-Buggs’ play is bound to get more consistent as the season goes on. This extra playing time will pay off.
A few players had career milestones during the week. Here’s Oklahoma State sharp-shooter Lexy Keys, one of the holdovers from last year’s team.
Kansas State’s Gabby Gregory continued to pile up the points while the Wildcats were overseas (well in the Caribbean, anyway).
Kansas had fans with them to celebrate Kansas guard Zakiyah Franklin’s move into four figures in career scoring.
Plus, Oklahoma State’s Taylen Collins had a big game in Cancun.
And, the Taiyanna Jackson show continues.
Where is TCU Headed?
Entering next week, the Horned Frogs are the only Big 12 team with an under-.500 record. Last week wasn’t particularly kind, either. TCU lost to South Florida, 66-59, in its Maggie Dixon Classic. After that, the Horned Frogs fell to Sam Houston, 60-54, at home the day before Thanksgiving. Sam Houston had one win entering the game.
Entering the season I wasn’t sure how much better TCU could be after losing all-time scorer Lauren Heard. Coach Raegan Pebley hoped there might be an ‘addition-by-subtraction’ situation this season. She thought the offense was too ‘Lauren-centric’ last year, something I took as code for her players standing around too much while waiting for Heard to score.
So far, it’s a work in progress. TCU’s leading scorer is guard Tomi Taiwo, who is averaging 14 points per game, but averaged just 4.6 points last year for Iowa. Knisha Godfrey, who had a huge performance in TCU’s opener — 26 points against Lipscomb — hasn’t approached 10 points in another game since.
TCU has six non-conference games to figure it out, and the Horned Frogs had better. Their first two Big 12 games are against Baylor and Texas.
I’m going to write more about this later in the week. But as I was monitoring all of the games this weekend, I found highlights of Texas Tech’s games at the ‘Las Vegas Invitational.’ In this case, the name of the tournament is in quotes because, well, I noticed something that, to me, seemed awfully disrespectful to the women’s teams in that event.
They were playing in a hotel ballroom. But, as I wrote above, we’ll get into that later this week. But, sufficed to say, the men were NOT playing in the hotel ballroom at the Las Vegas Invitational.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard