Women's Basketball Player/Newcomer of the Week (Dec. 12)
Monday, December 12, 2011

Drake sweeps this week's Missouri Valley Conference women's basketball awards, as Rachael Hackbarth and Kyndal Clark led the Bulldogs to victories over North Dakota State and Wisconsin.  Hackbarth averaged a double-double (23 points, 11 rebounds), while Clark averaged 14 points on 56.3-percent shooting.  For their outstanding efforts, Hackbarth and Clark have been named the Missouri Valley Conference Player and Newcomer of the Week, respectively.  
Rachael Hackbarth, Sr., C, Drake
Hackbarth registered two double-doubles to lead Drake to a 2-0 record last week. The senior opened the week’s slate with a season-high 26 points against North Dakota State, pulling down 11 rebounds and adding three assists in the win. Hackbarth followed with 20 points and 11 boards to lead Drake to an 11-point victory at Wisconsin. The senior was 18-for-23 from the free throw line on the week, including 10-for-11 during the final 10 minutes of both contests. All told, Hackbarth averaged 23 points and 11 boards to lead Drake to a perfect 2-0 week.

Kyndal Clark, Fr., G, Drake
Clark registered double-digit point totals in both games last week to help lead Drake to a 2-0 showing. The freshman began the week with 11 points, three rebounds and a pair of steals against North Dakota State. She followed with a career-high 17 points, three steals and three assists to push Drake to a double-digit road victory at Wisconsin. Clark made four of her five three-point field goal attempts against the Badgers. In total, Clark averaged 14 points and shot 56.3-percent from the floor, including 80-percent from three-point range, to help lead Drake to two victories.

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 had 13 points and matched a career-best with eight rebounds to go along with four assists and one steal in 35 minutes of play in a 66-60 road win at SIU Edwardsville, snapping the Cougars three-game home win streak.  With Bradley leads 61-59 and less than a minute to play, Yohn hit a base-line jumper to make it a two-possession game and made a pair of free throws with 10 seconds left to help push BU’s road record to 5-0.  Yohn, who had six offensive boards in the game, was 6-for-6 from the free throw line and helped the Braves win their school record seventh consecutive road game dating back to last year.

Carli Tritz (CU) - Tritz led the Bluejays with 17 points against Nebraska in Creighton’s only game last week.  The sophomore guard, who scored 21 against CU’s in-state rivals last year, was the only Bluejay to score in double figures against the Huskers, finishing 7-of-14 from the field.  She also added four rebounds, team-high three assists, a block and a steal in the contest.

Briyana Blair (UE) - Blair nearly recorded a triple-double in Evansville’s 30-point win (78-48) over Murray State, leading all scorers with a season-high 20 points, and a game-high nine rebounds, eight steals, and six assists. Avenging their season-opening 15-point loss (76-61) to the Racers, Blair shot a season-best 57.1 percent from the field and 50.0 percent from behind the arc, leading the Aces to their highest shooting percentage (.448) in over a year. On the season, Blair averages 10.4 points and a team-best 8.4 rebounds per game.

Marley Hall (ILS) - Hall had a career-high week and continues to be a dominate force for the Redbirds down low. Hall recorded the third double-double of her career against Illinois with 21 points and 11 rebounds in 31 minutes of play. She was 6-of-8 from the field and 9-of-13 from the charity stripe. She set career bests in points, rebounds, free throws made and free throw attempts in ISU’s 66-56 loss to Illinois. Hall also helped keep the Illini’s main scorer, Karisma Penn, to only four points.  Two nights later in ISU’s win over Western Kentucky, 71-45, Hall just missed another double-double, as she finished the game with 18 points and nine rebounds. She also recorded two blocks against WKU. The sophomore forward is the second-leading scorer for ISU with 99 points, averaging to 11.0 points per game. Hall also leads the team in rebounds with 62 boards.

Shannon Thomas (INS) - Thomas averaged a double-double last week, going for 10.5 points and 10.0 rebounds per game. Thomas was also effective dishing out the ball and protecting the rum, averaging 3.5 assists and 3.5 blocks per game as well. The senior center led ISU to a 49-46 victory over Butler with 11 points and nine rebounds on Tuesday, before recording her 22nd career double-double against Eastern Illinois on Saturday with 10 points and 11 boards.

Casey Garrison (MSU) - Garrison topped the 25-point mark in two games last week and finished with 59 points, 16 rebounds and 14 assists in three contests as the Lady Bears posted a 2-1 record. The senior also made at least 11 field goals in two contests, was perfect from the foul line in nine tries, shot 47 percent overall and had seven steals and two blocks. Garrison scored a season-high 29 points against North Texas, including eight straight following a crucial block of UNT when the Mean Green cut MSU’s lead to 66-63 late in Sunday’s game, on an 11-for-20 shooting day. She had team-highs of six rebounds and four assists Thursday at Oklahoma State, and scored 26 points with seven assists and four boards Tuesday in a win over East Tennessee State.

K.K. Armstrong (UNI) - Armstrong scored 14 points in each of the Panthers’ victories last week, topping South Dakota 53-43 and defeating North Dakota State 60-41. She tallied 14 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals against South Dakota and followed up with 14 points, seven rebounds, two assists and a steal against NDSU.

Teri Oliver (SIU) - Oliver averaged 24.0 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game for SIU as the Salukis split a pair of games last week. Oliver tallied 22 points, five rebounds and two steals in Southern’s 77-63 win over IUPUI Thursday before pouring in a game-high 26 points with two steals in a 61-59 loss to Wright State Saturday. The performances helped Oliver pull back into the MVC’s lead in scoring average at 19.5 points per game for the season. The Kokomo, Ind., native went a combined 16-for-23 from the field during the week for a percentage of 69.6, including a solid 9-for-14 (64.3 percent) from the 3-point line.

Chynna Turner (WSU) - Turner tallied her second career double-double with a career-high 14 rebounds and team-high 11 points Wednesday night at Kansas State.  She shot 5-of-9 from the floor on a night when the Shockers as a team produced 19% shooting from the field.  Two nights later the junior pitched in with nine points, three rebounds, and three assists in a road thrashing of UTSA.  The most consistent producer for Wichita State this year, Turner is shooting 50% from the field while scoring 7.8 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. 

Catie O'Leary (BU) - O’Leary matched a team and season high with 15 points and also dished out a season-best four assists, while collecting five rebounds and two steals in a 66-60 road win at SIU Edwardsville, to help Bradley snap the Cougars three-game home win streak.  O’Leary came off the bench to hit 3-of-7 three-point attempts and was 6-for-12 from the field in the victory as she helped BU improve to 5-0 on the road this season.  The Wisconsin transfer played 28 minutes in the win. 

Kat Taylor (UE) - Taylor provided Evansville a spark off the bench in their 78-48 rout over Murray State, scoring a career-best six points on 2-for-2 shooting behind the arc. Averaging a point a minute, Taylor also grabbed two rebounds, and added two assists and a steal.

Jamie Russell (ILS) - Russell continues to be a key component for Illinois State in all aspects of the game. During last week’s games against Illinois and Western Kentucky, Russell had six total steals in the two contests, taking away three in each game. She leads the team with 19 steals on the season, averaging 2.1 per game. In ISU’s win over WKU, Russell grabbed eight boards and added nine points to the Redbirds’ 71-45 victory. Against Illinois, the junior transfer recorded two assists, two points and two rebounds.  She leads the team and the Valley in assists with 42, which averages out to 4.7 per game.

Natasha Zurek (INS) - Zuerk scored a career-high 13 points on Saturday at Eastern Illinois, going 6-for-10 from the field in 21 minutes of action. For the week, Zurek averaged 8.5 points and 3.5 rebounds per game, shooting 53.8% (7-for-13) from the field. The freshman guard pulled down five rebounds in ISU’s win over Butler on Tuesday, the sixth time in nine games that she has grabbed more than four boards.

Cartaesha Macklin (SIU) - Macklin averaged 19.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.5 steals per game for SIU as the Salukis split a pair of games last week. The Mayo, Fla., native had one of the best individual performances by an SIU player this season with a career-high 27 points, seven assists and five rebounds in Southern’s 77-63 win over IUPUI Thursday. The effort marked the second-highest single-game scoring total for a Saluki player this season. Macklin also scored 11 points with six rebounds, three assists and three steals in a 61-59 loss to Wright State Saturday. She went a combined 16-for-18 from the free throw line in the two games. Macklin ranks fourth in the MVC in scoring at 15.3 points per game and fifth in free throw percentage at 85.5 percent (47-for-55).

Alex Harden (CU) - Harden delivered a career-high 15 points with five rebounds, three assists, and three steals in a 69-56 road rout of UTSA.  The freshmen hit 4-of-6 field goal attempts and buried 7-of-10 shots from the free throw line.  Earlier in the week she scored three points with four boards and a steal at Kansas State. Harden is the highest-scoring non-starter for WSU this year at 4.3 points per game.