Balanced Scoring is Leading to Success
Having multiple players in double figures has been critical to these teams’ winning records
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Some teams regularly rely on just a few star players to attain wins. Others reach deep into their benches, depending on who’s hot on a particular night, foul trouble, injuries, or the strength of their opponent. But having several players who can reliably put up solid numbers is no doubt an advantage when it comes to postseason play. It not only alleviates the pressure of performing for those one or two star players, but it also makes it much more challenging for the opposing teams to defend. Below we highlight several teams who’ve consistently had multiple players racking up double figures and discuss how having a variety of scoring options will factor into their success down the line.
All five starters for the Razorbacks have been routinely counted on to put up points, and they’ve responded accordingly. Each has taken a turn at holding the game high in scoring, and in every game except two, three or more starters have scored in double-digits. In a recent win against Florida, four of the five starters scored 16 points, and the fifth scored 15. Senior forward Erynn Barnum and sophomore guard Samara Spencer are essentially tied for being the team’s leading scorer—averaging 15.6 and 15.0 points per game, respectively—but Makayla Daniels (13.4 PPG), Chrissy Carr (11.4 PPG), and Saylor Poffenbarger (9.8 PPG) don’t lag far behind.
Having multiple scoring options has definitely been working in the Razorbacks’ favor. They’ve started the season with an impressive 16-3 record, and currently hold a No. 7 seed in ESPN’s Bracketology predictions. And as the team faces several tough SEC opponents in upcoming games, it’ll be important for them to keep getting contributions from a mixture of players. A key factor in doing that depends on how well the team continues to play as a unit.
During an interview after Arkansas’ win against Missouri, head coach Mike Neighbors discussed a coaching modification that may be increasing his players’ likelihood of doing just that.
“Last year, we had an offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator—this year, we all coach,” Neighbors explained. “And when we get there on that bench, we’re all in it together. And I think that’s started to really play over to our kids, too. They’re playing for everybody, and they’re playing for each other.”
Six different players have been the leading scorer for the Eagles for at least one game this season, and now that T’Yana Todd has returned from injury, all of them are capable of routinely posting double figures. Junior guard Dontavia Waggoner leads the way, averaging 13.8 points per game (PPG), but close behind are JoJo Lacey (11.2 PPG), Maria Gakdeng (10.9 PPG), Taina Mair (10.6 PPG), Andrea Daley (10.4 PPG), and T’Yana Todd (10.2 PPG).
How all of these players continue to produce will be critical to the team’s success. The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) is one of the toughest in the country. There are five ACC teams ranked in the most recent AP Top 25 Poll, and ESPN’s Bracketology predicts nine ACC teams will make it into the NCAA tournament. Boston College is currently tied for 11th with a 3-4 conference record, but they have notable wins against N.C. State and Florida State and will face several tough matchups in the near future that could alter that position.
During an interview after their recent win against Florida State, head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee discussed the importance of her team sticking together in order to build on their success.
“Basketball is one hundred percent a game of runs,” Bernabei-McNamee said. “We’re not going to play anybody easy in this conference. Every team is going to make their run. It’s us being tough enough and believing in ourselves enough to combat that run with a run of our own. I can’t be more proud of this group and how they fight and how they stick together.”
Columbia is another team that’s had six players alternating nights on being the team’s top scorer. Junior guard Abbey Hsu has done it six times and is the team’s overall leading scorer, averaging 17.2 points per game. But four of the other five players are also consistently scoring in double-digits, including Jaida Patrick (12.5 PPG), Kaitlyn Davis (12.2 PPG), Kitti Henderson (10.2 PPG), and Hannah Pratt (9.9 PPG).
The Lions’ equal opportunity offense has been a key factor in having several prolific scorers because it runs off a lot of ball movement, opening up a variety of perimeter shots, which works well for a team full of talented shooters. Currently, the team is ranked third in three-pointers made per game (9.9), sixth in the percentage of field goals that were assisted (67.4%), and 25th in points per scoring attempt (1.10), all of which have helped the team establish a 14-3 record and the No. 3 spot in the latest Women’s Mid Major Top 25.
Right now, Columbia is tied for second in the Ivy League and is one of the last four in on the latest ESPN Bracketology predictions, so it’ll be important for multiple players to continue to contribute offensively through the remainder of the season. During a recent interview, head coach Megan Griffith, also stressed the importance of the team not getting too far ahead of itself.
“I’m excited that we are where we are right now,” Griffith said. “But we’re not trying to talk about the outcome of it all, and really just enjoying the process with this group. I’m trying to keep them focused on the details of every day and less about in March this is what we’ll be doing. Staying daily focused and process oriented.”
Although Massachusetts head coach Tory Verdi has played a relatively short bench so far this season—with only six players averaging more than 15 minutes per game—five of those players are averaging more than 10 points a game. Leading the Minutewomen is reigning Atlantic 10 Player of the Year Sam Breen, a graduate student who’s been the team’s top scorer in nine games, averaging 17.7 points per contest. Senior guard Sydney Taylor isn’t far behind, though. Taylor’s been the leading scorer for the Minutewomen in six contests and averages 15.7 points per game. Other key contributors include Ber’Nyah Mayo (12.2 PPG), Destiney Philoxy (11.9 PPG), and Makennah White (11.0 PPG).
Massachusetts is currently ranked fourth in the Atlantic 10, but it has a prime opportunity to improve its standing with its game against Fordham this week. In a recent interview, Verdi discussed his team’s chances going forward, and he was extremely optimistic.
“When you look at our team, we’re scoring 74 points, 77 points, 73 points, and we’re not even playing our best basketball,” Verdi said. “That to me is really exciting. And so, when that does happen, it’s going to be awesome to see because I do think we can play better than we have been playing.”
Notre Dame has seven players who average at least 20 minutes or more a game, and five of them consistently score in double figures, including Lauren Ebo (9.9 PPG) who comes off of the bench. Olivia Miles is the team’s leading scorer, averaging 15.5 PPG, but Sonia Citron (13.9 PPG) is a close second, and Maddy Westbeld (10.6 PPG) and Dara Mabrey (10.3 PPG) aren’t far behind.
The Fighting Irish enjoy playing a fast-paced game, and quickly being able to find the open player has been critical to their success. The team is currently ranked ninth in the country in assists (18.1 per game), and a large part of that is from their guards being able to make the right pass.
When Notre Dame head coach Niele Ivey was recently asked about priorities in helping her team continue to find success as they work their way through the very talented ACC conference, she highlighted the importance of staying in the moment.
“Just to stay present,” Ivey explained. “To make sure that we’re taking care of business. Every game, every practice, we’re trying to get better. This schedule is really intense. Every night is going to be a test, and we have to make sure we’re locked in and focused—every time we step on the court, we’re playing our style of basketball, and we’re playing to our standard.”
Several other teams could have made this list, but injuries prevented one or more of their prolific scorers from playing at least 10 games (e.g., Indiana, Ohio State, Texas, and UConn). However, these teams’ continued success only underscores the importance of having multiple scoring options capable of stepping in. This, along with playing as a unit and staying locked in, will largely determine which teams go the furthest this season.