Women's Basketball Player/Newcomer of the Week (Nov. 28)
Monday, November 28, 2011

Creighton's Sarah Nelson turned in a pair of career-high performances and two double-doubles to help the Bluejays to a 1-1 record last week, while Illinois State's Jamie Russell produced the league's second-highest single-game scoring output of the season, scoring a career-high 30 points in the Redbirds' contest with Eastern Illinois.  For their outstanding efforts, Nelson and Russell have been named the Missouri Valley Conference Player and Newcomer of the Week, respectively. 
Sarah Nelson, So., F, Creighton
Sarah Nelson turned in a pair of career-high performances and two double-doubles last week as the Bluejays lost a tough contest in overtime before beating ACC foe NC State on Sunday.  The sophomore started the week with a career-high and arena-record 17 rebounds against South Dakota.  Her 17 boards were the most by a Bluejay since 2003, the most by an MVC player this year and are tied for the 10th most in CU single-game history.  She added 11 points and team-high three steals against USD.  The forward then poured in a career-high 22 points, making 9-of-10 shots against NC State, to go along with 10 rebounds for her third double-double in five games this year.  For the week she averaged 16.5 points and 13.5 rebounds, while shooting 14-of-20 (.700) from the field.  She made her only three-point attempt of the week, went 4-of-5 at the free-throw line and led the team with four steals.  She also averaged 3.0 assists in the two home games.

Jamie Russell, Jr., G, Illinois State
Jamie Russell has been a consistent offensive threat for Illinois State, including a career-high 30-point game against Eastern Illinois (Nov. 21) in 28 minutes of play. Despite falling to the Panthers, 83-69, Russell sank 28 of her 30 points in the second half. In ISU’s home-opening win against Northern Illinois (Nov. 26), 81-62, Russell netted nine points, dished out six assists and grabbed a career-high seven rebounds in 34 minutes. Through four games, Russell is the second-leading scorer on the team, averaging 15.5 points per game. She is 21-of-47 from the field, shooting 45 percent. The junior transfer also leads the Redbirds in assists (18) and steals (9).

Noteworthy - In addition to the league's player and newcomer of the week selections, several conference players had notable performances, and they include:  

Katie Yohn (BU) - Yohn hit 3-of-8 three-pointers and finished with a game-high 16 points to help Bradley to a 50-45 win at Northern Illinois.  Yohn also collected four rebounds, three assists and a steal to help the Braves to their first victory in DeKalb, Ill., since Dec. 1995.  With Bradley trailing 45-43 and under two minutes to play, Yohn factored into the final seven points of the game.  She put BU ahead for good with a three-pointer with 1:28 to play to give the Braves a 46-45 lead.  Yohn assisted a Catie O’Leary hoop with 38.8 seconds left and made a pair of free throws with 1.1 seconds remaining after she rebounded an NIU miss to seal the game.  Bradley has won its first two true road games of the year for the first time since 2001-02 and is 4-2 for the first time since 2008-09.

Rachael Hackbarth (DU) - Hackbarth averaged a double-double in Drake’s two games at the Triple Crown Cancun Challenge last week. The senior totaled 19 points and 12 rebounds in Drake’s matchup with 2011 NCAA Tournament participant Marist. Hackbarth then scored 12 points and added eight rebounds against Hofstra. In total, Hackbarth averaged 15.5 points and 10.0 rebounds per game and finished 9-of-11 from the free throw line against a pair of solid opponents.

Briyana Blair (UE) - Earning all-tournament honors at Maine’s Dead River Company Classic, senior Briyana Blair averaged 8.0 points and a team-high 11.0 rebounds, piloting Evansville to its first win of the season. Against Brown, Blair logged her first career double-double leading UE with 11 points and a career-high 14 rebounds. In UE’s 59-49 win over Troy, marking the Aces first victory of the season and first for head coach Oties Epps, Blair grabbed a team-high eight rebounds, while also tallying five points, five assists and two steals.

Katie Broadway (ILS) - Broadway has been the most consistent offensive threat for the Redbirds, as she has recorded double-digit performances in each of ISU’s four games during the 2011-12 season. She led Illinois State to an 81-62 victory over Northern Illinois with 20 points, just two points shy of her career high. In the game, she was 7-of-13 from the field, including 4-of-5 from behind the arc and perfect (2-of-2) at the free throw line in 33 minutes. It marked the second time in four games that Broadway had scored 20 points. She also netted 20 points at Northwestern (Nov. 17). At Eastern Illinois (Nov. 21), Broadway scored 15 points and brought down five boards in the 83-69 loss. The senior guard leads the team in scoring with 65 points, averaging to 16.3 points per game. Broadway is perfect from the free throw line, shooting 8-of-8. She is also second on the team in steals (5) and assists (9).

Shannon Thomas (INS) - Thomas averaged a double double over the two games the Sycamores played this week finishing with 23 points and 20 rebounds. In a win to IUPUI Thomas grabbed eight rebounds and scored six points for ISU. On Sunday against Belmont, Thomas led ISU with 17 points and 12 rebounds for her 20th career double double in a Sycamore uniform. On the season she is averaging 11.4 points per game and 8.4 rebounds per game.

Christiana Shorter (MSU) - Shorter led all players with 27 points and pulled down 10 rebounds for the double-double Saturday in her hometown as the Lady Bears defeated previously unbeaten Oral Roberts 85-79. The junior made 11 of 17 shots from the field (.647) and pulled down six offensive rebounds with a team-high three steals. Shorter’s career-high scoring effort came with 13 points in the first period and 14 with six boards in the second half.

Amber Kirschbaum (UNI) - Kirschbaum posted back-to-back double-doubles – the third and fourth of her career – to lead UNI to a tournament championship at the Loyola Marymount Thanksgiving Classic in Los Angeles. In two games, she scored 36 points and pulled down 25 rebounds, recording a new career-high in each of those categories.  Against Wyoming in the tourney opener, Kirschbaum tallied 12 points and a career-high 15 boards. She followed up with a career-high 24 points in 26 minutes and added 10 more rebounds in the 90-73 title game victory over Youngstown State. Kirschbaum was named the Tournament MVP.

Cartaesha Macklin (SIU) - Macklin scored a team-high 20 points with seven rebounds and four assists to lead the Salukis to their second consecutive win, 89-68 over Tennessee State Tuesday in Nashville. After missing her first free throw of the night, Macklin went on to sink her next 10 straight against the Tigers. Macklin’s night marked the second-highest scoring output for any SIU player this season. She leads all MVC freshmen with averages of 12.0 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.

Jessica Diamond (WSU) - Diamond led Wichita State to a mid-week victory over Winthrop by stuffing the stat sheet with 17 points, four rebounds, four assists, three steals and a blocked shot while playing 30 minutes.  Diamond connected on 8-of-12 field goal attempts, including 1-of-3 beyond the arc.  The junior has pumped in double figures in every game for the Shockers this year and leads the team in scoring at 14.2 ppg while shooting a cool 57.4% from the field.

Catie O'Leary (BU) - O’Leary scored eight points and also added four rebounds, two assists and a steal in Bradley’s 50-45 road win at Northern Illinois.  With BU clinging to a 46-45 lead, she hit a jumper from the free throw line with the shot clock winding down to push the Braves’ lead to 48-45 with 38.8 seconds to play.  O’Leary hit 3-of-8 shots from the field, including 2-of-4 three-point attempts to help BU improve to 2-0 in true road games for the first time since 2001-02 and help the Braves to their first 4-2 start since 2008-09.

Taylor Johnson (CU) - Johnson snapped out of her early-season shooting funk to help carry the Bluejays to a 74-67 win over North Carolina State on Sunday.  The freshman entered Sunday’s game with NC State having made 1-of-14 shot from three-point range and with 13 points scored on the season.  The sharp-shooting rookie more than doubled her season scoring output with a career-best 15 points off the bench against the Wolfpack, helping make up for the absence of Carli Tritz in the CU lineup.  Johnson made 4-of-10 three-pointers, added four rebounds and three assists in 25 minutes against NC State, as CU knocked off the ACC foe.  For the week she averaged 7.5 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists.

Kyndal Clark (DU) - Clark continued her solid freshman campaign in Cancun, averaging seven points and four rebounds in two games against tough competition. The freshman scored six points, totaled two assists, two steals and four rebounds against 2011 NCAA Tournament qualifier Marist. Clark finished the week with eight points, three assists and four rebounds against Hofstra. Clark hit four of her nine shots from three-point range.

Natasha Zurek (INS) - Zurek averaged 5 points a game and 6.5 rebounds a game for Indiana State over the past week. In Indiana State’s win over IUPUI, Zurek scored seven points and grabbed 7 rebounds with three assists and two steals with no turnovers. On Sunday, Zurek scored three points for the Sycamores but grabbed six rebounds. On the season she is averaging 4.2 points per game and 4.8 rebounds per game.

Brittni Donaldson (UNI) - Donaldson scored 19 points in 33 minutes off the Panthers’ bench, helping UNI to a tournament championship at the Loyola Marymount Thanksgiving Classic in Los Angeles. Over the two victories, Donaldson shot 5-of-11 from beyond the arc. She had eight points in the 60-46 win over Wyoming and 11 points in the title game victory over Youngstown State.