Women's Basketball Player / Newcomer of the Week - Feb. 2
The Missouri Valley Conference women’s slate reached the halfway point over the weekend and once again was a showcase for some top-flight talent. Illinois State’s Kristi Cirone stole the show, literally and figuratively, with nine steals over a pair of games, including six steals as part of a 25-point (9-of-11 FG), 12-assist and five-rebound outing at Bradley. For the week, she averaged 21.5 points, 8.5 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 4.5 steals on 62.5 percent shooting. Missouri State’s Jaleshia Roberson posted back-to-back career-high scoring outings, posting 19 points at Evansville and following with 26 points 22 in the second half against Southern Illinois. She averaged 22.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3 steals per game on the week. For their efforts, Cirone and Roberson are this week’s State Farm MVC Player and Newcomer of the Week, respectively.
State Farm MVC Player of the Week
Kristi Cirone, Illinois State
Cirone averaged 21.5 points, 8.5 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 4.5 steals in two wins last week, leading the Redbirds to sole possession of first place after the first half of the MVC schedule and their sixth-straight win. Cirone shot 62.5 percent from the field on the week. Cirone recorded her fourth-career double-double with 25 points and a career-high tying 12 assists against Bradley. It was her first double-double since Dec. 9, 2006 against Miami University. She also had six steals. Cirone led the Redbirds over Northern Iowa with 18 points, five assists, four rebounds and three steals. Cirone made five three-pointers on the weekend, moving her past Jenny Schmidt for the Illinois State all-time lead with 207 triples.
State Farm MVC Newcomer of the Week
Jaleshia Roberson, Missouri State
Freshman guard Jaleshia Roberson came off the Missouri State bench to turn in a pair of career games this past week, averaging 22.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 3.0 steals per game and helping the Lady Bears pick up their first road win of the season Thursday at Evansville. Roberson totaled 16 of her career-high 19 points versus the Purple Aces in the second half to help seal win. The Grandview, Mo., native scored 11 points in the first 6:13 of the second stanza and connected on 5-of-7 attempts from both the field and the foul line after the break to help the Lady Bears snap a 10-game road losing streak. She also pulled down a career-best seven rebounds and matched another career-high with four steals. Against Southern Illinois on Saturday, Roberson was even better, pouring home 22 second-half points en route to a 26-point effort. She was a perfect 6-of-6 from the foul line and 7-of-11 from the floor after intermission.
Noteworthy...In addition to the league's player and newcomer of the week selections, several conference players had notable performances, and they include:
Raisa Taylor, Bradley - Sophomore Raisa Taylor averaged 11.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists, while helping Bradley to a 1-1 record. Taylor had 10 points and matched a career-high with eight rebounds in 31 minutes off the bench against Illinois State. She followed that with a 13-point, four-assist effort against Indiana State. Taylor had back-to-back three-point plays to cap a 12-0 BU run as the Braves broke open a six-point game. She also made 9-of-10 free throw attempts for the week.
Megan Neuvirth, Creighton - Megan Neuvirth again filled up the stat sheet as she helped lead Creighton to its first win over Drake in the Knapp Center since 2003. She finished with 13 points, eight rebounds, three assists and three steals in the 68-65 victory over the Bulldogs. The forward, not know for her free-throw shooting, drained 7-of-9 shots at the line to go along with her 2-for-5 performance from beyond the arc. Two of her three steals came in the final 94 seconds, during CU's 5-0 run to end the game.
Jordann Plummer, Drake - Plummer led Drake with a career-high 27 points in a 68-65 loss to Creighton. She opened the game with nine points in an 11-3 Drake run and scored 16 of her career-high 27 in the first half. Plummer was 10-of-19 (.526) from the floor and 6-of-7 (.857) from the free throw line and had five rebounds, two steals and one assist in the contest.
Ashley Austin, Evansville - Sparked by a career effort on Thursday night against Missouri State, senior guard Ashley Austin led the Evansville attack this week with an average of 19.5 points, 3.0 steals, and 2.5 rebounds per game on 52.0 percent shooting from the floor in a pair of games. Austin scored a career-high 26 points against Missouri State on Thursday, going 9-for-14 from the floor, including 2-of-3 from three-point range. She also grabbed four rebounds and swiped three steals for the Purple Aces. Austin then pitched in 13 points and swiped three steals on Saturday to help Evansville knock off Wichita State, 64-49. For the week, Austin went 13-for-25 from the field (52.0 percent), including going 3-of-6 from three-point range (50.0 percent). She also shot 71.4 percent from the free throw line, going 10-for-14 in the two games.
Bianca Jarrett, Indiana State - Freshman guard Bianca Jarrett posted back-to-back double figure scoring efforts this weekend on the road as the Sycamores split their road swing at Northern Iowa and Bradley. Jarrett started the week by scoring 14 points as the Sycamores earned a 66-59 road victory over the Panthers. She hit 5-of-13 shots from the field, as well as a career-best 3-of-5 from 3-point range with four assists and three steals in 39 minutes of action. At Bradley, Jarrett paced the Sycamores with 15 points, hitting all six of her free throws in the game with a pair of rebounds, five assists and three steals in 32 minutes of action. For the week, Jarrett averaged 14.5 points, 3.0 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 3.0 steals per game over the weekend split. Jarrett was 4-of-9 from 3-point range, 44.4 percent. She also hit 7-of-8 free throws, 87.5 percent.
Lizzie Boeck, UNI - Lizzie Boeck averaged 20 points and seven rebounds per game in the Panthers’ two contests last week. The sophomore shot 8-of-14 (57 percent) against Indiana State, including 2-of-3 from behind the arc to finish with a career-high 23 points. She also collected seven rebounds and two steals against the Sycamores. Against Illinois State, Boeck finished with 17 points and seven rebounds. On the season, she is averaging 10.1 points and 4.7 rebounds per game.
Jasmine Gibson, Southern Illinois - Southern Illinois’ Jasmine Gibson averaged a team-high 21.5 points, 8.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game in two wins over the weekend, shooting 62.1 percent (18-of-29) from the field, playing in 82 of SIU’s 85 minutes. She recorded a game-high 20 points, nine boards and two steals in an overtime victory against Wichita State Thursday, then went on Saturday to lead the Salukis in scoring again with 23 points, seven boards, two steals and an assist in a win against Missouri State. Gibson’s 32 points this weekend makes the senior just 32 points (968 career points) away from the 1,000 point mark. She leads the Salukis in conference scoring and rebounds this season.
Erica Smith, Southern Illinois - Southern Illinois’ Erica Smith averaged a double-double 16.0 points, 11.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists over the weekend shooting 52.4 percent (11-of-21) from the field, playing in all 85 minutes in two victories over the weekend. Smith recorded her sixth-career double-double with 12 points, 11 boards and four assists in an overtime win against Wichita State Thursday. She turned around Saturday to record her seventh-career double-double with 20 points, 12 boards, four assists and three steals in a victory over Missouri State. Smith leads the team in scoring this season, second in rebounds.
Daria Frazier, Wichita State
Daria Frazier averaged 17.5 points per game with 4.5 rebounds last week in WSU’s road swing at Southern Illinois and Evansville. She shot .517 on the weekend while averaging 30.0 minutes per game. The Richfield, Minn., native connected on 71-percent of her free-throw attempts and tallied two assists and four steals on the weekend. Frazier scored a game-best 20 points in WSU’s loss at Evansville on Saturday, breaking her previous season-high total of 10 set against UNI. Frazier has now scored in double-digits in five of the last six games, and ranks fifth among MVC players in scoring in conference contests thus far.
Michelle Lund, Bradley - Freshman guard Michelle Lund averaged 11.0 points, 1.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game last week, helping Bradley to a 1-1 record. Lund hit a pair of three-pointers against Illinois State and also grabbed two boards against the league leaders. She capped the week with a 16-point effort against Indiana State to help the Braves end a four-game losing streak. Lund made 4-of-10 three-point attempts against the Sycamores and also had two assists and one steal. Her 57 three-pointers is the sixth best total by a freshman in the MVC and ranks as the eighth best season total in school history.
Jordan Lewis, Evansville - Seeing her first extended action of the season this week, UE freshman guard Jordan Lewis responded by averaging 9.0 points and 3.0 rebounds per game on 43.8 percent shooting from the floor against Missouri State and Wichita State. Lewis, who had been limited to just 21 minutes through the first 18 games due to injury, exploded for 10 points in 19 minutes of work Thursday night against Missouri State on 4-of-10 shooting from the floor. She then followed that up on Saturday with eight points against Wichita State, including six key points in the second half to help the Purple Aces ice a 64-49 victory over the Shockers. For the week, Lewis went 7-for-16 from the floor (43.8 percent) and 3-of-4 from the free throw line (75.0 percent). She also grabbed six rebounds and dished out three assists in 34 total minutes of work.
Katelin Oney, UNI - Katelin Oney averaged 8.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists against Indiana State and Illinois State last week. The freshman connected on 4-of-5 three-point attempts against the Sycamores on her way to a career-high 13 points. She finished with three points, three rebounds, three assists and three steals against Illinois State on Sunday. Oney is averaging 3.9 points per game on the season.
Alex Hart, Southern Illinois - Southern Illinois’ Alex Hart averaged 9.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists in two victories this weekend. She recorded a career-best 15 points, four boards and three assists in a big overtime win against Wichita State Thurdsay, adding four points, three rebounds and four assists in a victory over Missouri State Saturday.