The Weekly Roundup: November Madness
Inside the upsets from last week’s Thanksgiving tournaments
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Have you all recovered yet? No, not from the copious amounts of Thanksgiving food you may have consumed. I’m also not referring to the bedlam that is Thanksgiving weekend travel. Rather, I’m alluding to the numerous upsets that occurred at tournaments over the holiday weekend. Seven unranked teams upset programs that were ranked in the Associated Press top 25 poll. Let’s take an absurdly quick run through those surprising outcomes.
Led by a pair of 20-point efforts from sophomore guard Shaylee Gonzales, BYU earned its way into this week’s AP top 25 with two upsets at the St. Pete Showcase, knocking off then-No. 17 Florida State 61-54 and then-No. 22 West Virginia 58-57.
It was a tough weekend for the Seminoles, as they also dropped a 66-61 decision to unranked Purdue. The Boilermakers withstood a whopping 27-0 Florida State run, which included a second quarter where Purdue was shut out 18-0. Purdue senior guard Cassidy Hardin led all scorers with a career-high 18 points.
After nearly letting a 20-point lead slip away, Notre Dame also played its way into this week’s AP top 25 by defeating then-No. 16 Oregon State 64-62 at the Daytona Beach Invitational.
A shorthanded UCLA squad plummeted out of the top 25 after a 75-69 loss to Kent State followed by a 76-66 setback versus South Dakota State at the Gulf Coast Showcase.
Missouri State’s frontcourt of Abigayle Jackson and Jasmine Franklin combined for 39 points and 20 rebounds en route to their team’s 76-68 upset win at the San Juan Shootout over then-No. 24 Virginia Tech.
And I haven’t even mentioned the five losses by top-25 teams against other top-25 programs! In fact, let’s take a closer look at one of those games: South Florida’s thrilling victory over defending national champion Stanford.
Game of the week: Harvey’s late three lifts South Florida to statement win over Stanford
South Florida junior Sydni Harvey entered Friday afternoon’s contest against then-No. 7 Stanford shooting a whopping 21-for-44 (47.7%) from behind the arc this season. So when Bulls coach Jose Fernandez opted to play for the win down 54-52 with 9.2 seconds remaining, it was crystal clear who would take the game-deciding shot. Harvey, who notched her 1,000th career point earlier in the game, received the inbounds pass, took one dribble to her right, and launched an off-balance three-pointer. Swish. After a couple of defensive stops in the final 2.8 seconds, the upset was complete. No. 18 South Florida had knocked off the defending national champions 57-54 in a thriller at the Baha Mar Hoops Pink Flamingo Championship in the Bahamas.
The Bulls led the contest almost wire-to-wire, extending their advantage to as much as 12 points early in the second quarter. However, the Cardinal were always within striking distance and used an 11-3 run to narrow the deficit to just one point, 40-39, with 9:35 left in the fourth quarter. The final quarter went on to feature four lead changes, with Stanford seemingly having the last laugh after a Lacie Hull triple gave it a 53-52 lead with 14.1 seconds remaining. A Cameron Brink block on the ensuing South Florida possession seemed to solidify that notion. Stanford freshman forward Brooke Demetre then hit one of two free throws, giving the Cardinal a 54-52 lead with 9.2 seconds left. The Bulls called a timeout to advance the ball and design a play for Sydni Harvey, who rewarded her team’s faith with a game-winning triple.
Rebounding played a critical role in determining Friday’s outcome, and no one had more of an impact on this facet of the game than South Florida’s Bethy Mununga. Her 23 boards, including eight on the offensive end, helped her squad outrebound Stanford 52-38. Her team’s rebounding advantage included a 24-16 edge on the offensive glass. In a tight game where neither team shot particularly well, having eight more scoring opportunities than your opponent loomed large.
The dynamic backcourt of Harvey, sophomore guard Elena Tsineke and junior guard Elisa Pinzan combined for 40 of their team’s 57 points. Tsineke and Pinzan each grabbed five boards; Pinzan also dished out six dimes.
It was a statement win for South Florida, which has proven time and again its ability to hang with and beat the cream of the NCAA crop. Despite these quality performances, the Bulls had struggled with closing out games against the top 25. They blew a fourth-quarter lead against Tennessee, nearly did the same with a 17-point lead versus Oregon, and dropped a decision to UConn after entering the fourth quarter tied. Fernandez explained how his team drew upon these experiences Friday afternoon and executed down the stretch.
“That’s what good teams do,” Fernandez said. “They go back. They reevaluate. They understand what we didn’t do well.”
Aside from Brink’s 23-point, 11-rebound, 4-block effort, the sole bright spot on Friday for Stanford was the bench play of freshman forward Brooke Demetre. Averaging about six minutes per game entering Friday’s contest, Demetre played 28 minutes. She made the most of her playing time, dropping 14 points including a crucial three-pointer that gave the Cardinal their first lead of the game midway through the fourth quarter. Overall though, Stanford struggled from the field (21-for-60 for 35.0%) and from the free-throw line (4-for-12 for 33.3%). Coach Tara Vanderveer still came away encouraged with how her team competed in the second half.
"Always tough to lose a game like that," VanDerveer said. "We made some real big plays. Really proud of our team and how we battled in the second half. Credit South Florida, they made a real big shot when they needed to. We've made shots like that before."
After an impressive 3-1 record during its time in the Bahamas, which also included a win against then-No. 9 Oregon, South Florida improved to 5-2 and next sees action on the road against UT Arlington Thursday night at 7 p.m. Stanford rebounded from this setback and handled shorthanded No. 2 Maryland 86-67 on Saturday. The 5-2 Cardinal don’t take the hardwood again until Dec. 12, when they host Pacific.
Power 6 performance of the week: Cameron Brink, Stanford
Thursday’s game against then-No. 4 Indiana wasn’t Cameron Brink’s most efficient offensive performance. For someone whose 58.1% field goal percentage last season placed her in the 98th percentile among all Division I players, Brink’s 10-for-24 effort from the field was the fifth-worst shooting night of her college career. She also hit just one of her six free throws.
So, why did Brink earn this week’s Power 6 performance of the week? Her shooting performance was just a small part of what she brought to the table against an AP top-five opponent. Brink’s stat line of 21 points, 22 rebounds, 5 assists, and 5 blocks provides a more complete picture of her contributions Thursday afternoon. Just two other players since 2009-10 have recorded a 20-point, 20-rebound, 5-assist, and 5-block game.
She helped limit All-Big Ten First Team member Mackenzie Holmes to six points, tied for her lowest scoring output since the 2019-20 season. Crucially, Brink played such stingy defense while avoiding foul trouble.
Before Thursday afternoon’s game, Indiana coach Teri Moren stated that rebounding would be a key to victory. Unfortunately for the Hoosiers, they grabbed only 39.2% of all rebounding opportunities, their lowest percentage since Mar. 22, 2019 against Texas. Brink was a major reason why, snagging a career-high 22 rebounds.
Mid-Major performance of the week: Jasmine Dickey, Delaware
Anytime your name appears in a record book next to Elena Delle Donne, you’ve done something special. That’s precisely what Delaware senior Jasmine Dickey accomplished Friday afternoon when she dropped a career-high 48 points. It’s the second-highest single-game point total in school history (just behind Delle Donne’s 54-point effort in 2010) and the highest single-game point total in Division I this season. The reigning Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Year shot 19-for-36 from the field and added eight rebounds en route to her team’s 87-72 win against Eastern Michigan at the FIU Thanksgiving Tournament.
This section recognizes her extraordinary performance against Eastern Michigan, yet it’s instructive to look at her body of work this season to understand that this was no fluke. Dickey leads the nation in scoring with 29.2 points per game. Sure, a 48-point effort tends to bolster one’s average, but then again so does scoring at least 30 points in four consecutive contests. The rest of the country combined has just 47 such games this season. The Delaware senior is averaging nearly seven more points per game than her CAA Player of the Year campaign last season, and she’s scoring more efficiently (44.3% FG this year versus 38.6% last year). Not known as the most prolific three-point shooter during her career, Dickey has attempted nearly three triples per game this season and hit them at a respectable 35.3% clip. Apparently, no one told her that increasing the three-point line’s distance by over a foot is supposed to reduce your proficiency from behind the arc.
Dickey’s ability to score in a multitude of ways has created a matchup nightmare for opposing coaches. Her quickness and physicality allow her to get to the rim for an easy bucket or a trip to the free-throw line (she ranks in the 99th percentile in free throws attempted per game among all Division I players). Thinking about protecting against dribble penetration and giving her space? Her mid-range jumper is lethal, and now it appears you also have to respect her ability to knock down three-pointers.
When asked how it feels to have posted the second-highest single-game point total in Blue Hens history, Dickey responded, “Pretty cool. I’m reaching for that first though.” 55 points is a massive number. Just three players since the 2009-10 season have dropped a double-nickel. However, given her scoring proficiency this season and versatility, Jasmine Dickey is on the shortlist of Division I players I believe could realistically achieve that milestone.
Adam’s Top 25
I have struggled to put into words the impact of last week’s games on my top 25, so here’s a video to demonstrate. The carefully constructed Jenga tower represents my top 25 from last week, and the clumsy reporter is indicative of last week’s chaos.
That’s what seven upsets by unranked teams and another five losses at the hands of ranked teams will do. Don’t get me wrong. As a basketball fan, I loved the unpredictability of last week’s Thanksgiving tournaments. Also, seeing three mid-majors in the top 25 (both mine and the AP poll) is always a welcome sight.
Without further ado, here’s my latest ranking of the 25 best teams in the country.
Her Hoop Stats content in case you missed it
In the latest edition of her Pac-12 review, Kim Doss covered how the injury bug has impacted the conference’s top teams and who received her votes for Pac-12 Player of the Week and Pac-12 Rookie of the Week.
On Courtside, Christy Winters Scott and Gabe Ibrahim broke down the South Carolina-UConn and Baylor-Maryland matchups as well as what the future holds for these four teams. They also offered their insights into the slate of excellent Thanksgiving tournaments.
The Her Hoop Stats game prediction model is now available for every Division I regular-season game! Check out the Schedules page on the Her Hoop Stats site to see who the model predicts will win each game, the probability of winning, and the predicted score.
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Trivia question of the week
Which player recorded four of the first six triple-doubles in NCAA Division I women's basketball history?