Before we look ahead to “Feast Week” in women’s college basketball, let’s take a look at “5 Takeaways” from week two of the WAC women’s basketball season.
Player of the Week:
Derryl: For me, it’s Breaunna Gillen from Utah Tech. The Trailblazers were 2-0 on the week with wins over UMKC and Utah State. Gillen had averages of 24.0 points, 5.5 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals in a pair of wins. The 5-9 senior guard is a WAC Preseason First Team selection by voting media members. And Gillen has already won one WAC Player of the Week honor in 2022-23. Make it two as the WAC made the official announcement on Monday.
Chelsea: I really liked Chyna Allen in Sam Houston’s game against Jarvis Christian. The Preseason All-WAC Second-Team selection looked absolutely dominant in the win. Allen had 28 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists which led the Bearkats to a convincing 101-55 win.
Best win of the Week:
There were some nice wins in week two. Here are our thoughts on who had the best win of the week as we start Thanksgiving Week.
Derryl: There were a number of good wins across the conference. But for me, it’s New Mexico State over New Mexico at the Pan American Center on Tuesday night. It’s not just the fact that the Aggies defeated their I-25 rivals for the first time in a number of years. It is how it happened.
New Mexico State raced out to a big lead and then saw it slip away in the fourth quarter. But, the Aggies found a way to prevail in overtime. My big question about the Aggies was could they finish close games after the struggles last year? The same struggles which led to Jody Adams’ hire as the replacement for Brooke Atkinson. While it could be argued that this game should never have been this close, they executed when it got tough. And that’s a big step forward for them in my book.
Chelsea: I was extremely impressed by the performance put on by Utah Tech in their win over the Roos of Kansas City. Sure, it wasn’t the biggest win of week two. But four Trailblazers had double digit points and two scored more than 20 points. Breaunna Gillen and Macie Warren looked unstoppable, scoring 25 and 21 points, respectively. They also combined for 10 rebounds, 10 assists, and 5 steals. The team has looked excellent in their first few games, certainly making this media member’s pre-season rankings look really bad.
Transition teams doing nice things early in 2022:
Utah Tech and Tarleton State are both in year 3 of their transition. And, although the media and coaches differed in their projections of where they’d finish in 2022, both are off to nice starts.
Behind preseason WAC First-Team selection Breaunna Gillen, the Trailblazers are 3-2 so far with a signature blowout win against Utah State and 2 losses to P5 schools by a combined 22 points. If the statistics of transitioning teams were recognized on NCAA national leaderboards, Gillen would be tied for 22nd nationally in individual scoring at 22.4 PPG.
As a team, Utah Tech ranks 23rd in field goal percentage and tied for 11th in scoring offense at 89.2 points per game. It appears as if to beat the Trailblazers this year teams will have to outscore them. Macie Warren and Maggie McCord also combine to average 30 points per game.
CBU’s Trinity San Antonio, at 16, is the other WAC player in the top 25 in scoring.
Tarleton State is off to a 3-1 start. Last time out, the Texans recorded one of the WAC’s best wins this season in an 82-72 win over College of Charleston (CAA Tournament semifinalist) in Stephenville last week. Texans head coach Misty Wilson and staff did a nice job with their recruiting class this offseason, hitting the junior college ranks and portal hard.
Teresa Da Silva is making an early splash after transferring from Arizona Western. Da Silva is averaging 13.3 points and 4.5 rebounds while shooting 40 percent from 3-point land. Victoria Ivanova is another transfer from South Plains College who averages 10.0 points and 3.5 rebounds. Ivanova hit one of the late 3-pointers to seal the win against Charleston. Tyler Jackson and Nyajah Mitchels are transfers with Division I experience. Both players are averaging in double digit scoring early on. In fact, Jackson had a career night against the Cougars with 20 points and hit five 3-pointers. Jackson also had season highs in rebounds (6) and assists (4).
WAC teams competing among national elites:
Derryl: Utah Tech more than held their own against teams from the Pac-12 and Big 12 in week two, losing two games by a combined 22 points. Granted, neither game was against a team in the AP top-25. But still very impressive, especially the rally against Kansas State who beat Iowa last week. The Trailblazers were voted to finish 11th in coaches voting and 7th by media voters.
Chelsea: I’m super impressed by UTA’s game against Kansas. Three starters scored more than 10 points, and almost the entire team contributed offensively. They certainly gave the Jayhawks a scare in the 79-74 loss. The Mavericks were voted to finish second in both the preseason media and coaches’ polls, and that performance showed exactly why.
There are still opportunities for WAC teams to break through and get a win or two against Power 6 opponents. CBU will play Arizona on Friday on a neutral floor in San Diego and USC on November 30th.
Next week Stephen F. Austin will welcome Houston (Thursday) and GCU hosts Arizona State (Wednesday). On December 4, the Ladyjacks will host Natasha Adair’s Sun Devil team. Tarleton State also plays Nebraska on Tuesday night.
Feast Week tournament capsules:
Chelsea: The Lopes are currently undefeated, including preseason, at home early on this season. They’re the favorite in the eyes of most to win the GCU Thanksgiving Classic against the likes of North Dakota and Lindenwood. I may be a little biased, but I’m excited to see how they do with two games in back-to-back days.
Derryl: Other tournaments to keep an eye on this week are the USD Tournament (CBU with back to back games against Arizona and Idaho State), Stephen F.Austin in Puerto Rico (starting with Morgan State on Thursday), UTA in Florida (starting with Cincinnati) and New Mexico State in Denver (Yale and Denver).