A new name tops the Power Rankings…technically
It happened! Somebody other than IUPUI took over at the top of the Power Rankings!
…because IUPUI was forced into a COVID-19 stoppage and won’t be appearing in this week’s rankings. The timing likely stole a second straight Horizon League Player of the Week award from Macee Williams, who has been posting better numbers than the ones required to take the award this week even when she spends most of the fourth quarter resting for the next game because the Jaguars are up by 25.
Joining IUPUI on the sidelines due to COVID-19 protocols this week are fellow Horizon League undefeated Northern Kentucky as well as Robert Morris and UIC. Also, we’re calling it Week 7. It’ll get too confusing otherwise.
- Milwaukee Panthers (11-1, 8-0 in Horizon League play)
With the other undefeated Horizon League schools out of action this week, Milwaukee is a no-brainer for the top spot in the Power Rankings. The Panthers once again put forward an excellent defensive performance, sweeping Purdue Fort Wayne. While the team has generally started to buckle down early in the third quarter, on Friday the suffocating defense was on display practically from tipoff. Milwaukee took a 36-20 halftime lead and cruised to a 20-point win. The Panthers were back to their normal style on Saturday, holding the Mastodons to 13 second half points for a 64-33 victory. If not for a Purdue Fort Wayne basket in the final minute, Milwaukee would’ve doubled an opponents score for the second time in Horizon League play
Preseason Second Team All-League pick Brandi Bisping managed to outshine Megan Walstad and win Horizon League Player of the Week. Bisping averaged 14.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game in the sweep of Purdue Fort Wayne. Bisping has taken a backseat with the return of Walstad – Milwaukee’s leading scorer and an All-Freshman Team pick in 2019 – but after having trouble staying. out of foul trouble early in the season she’s emerged as an even better scorer in 2021 on what is already a stronger team.
- Green Bay Phoenix (5-4, 4-2 in Horizon League play)
Green Bay finally got its record above .500 with a weekend sweep of Detroit Mercy. The Phoenix have won four straight league games since a pair of losses to Milwaukee to start the Horizon League season. On Friday, the Phoenix jumped out to an early lead and coasted through the second half to win 64-49. Despite a similar final score on Saturday, the game had a completely different flow. The Phoenix actually trailed at the half, took a two point lead at the end of the third quarter, then flipped a switch to put forward a dominant 20-9 fourth quarter and win 61-48.
Jasmine Kondrakiewicz averaged 12.5 points per game, raising her overall scoring average to 11.3 points per game on the season. The Horizon League’s first Freshman of the week wasn’t able to secure the award this week, but put forth another strong week toward earning postseason honors for her first year with the Phoenix.
- Wright State Raiders (7-3, 7-1 in Horizon League play)
Wright State moved to 7-1 in Horizon League play with a weekend sweep of Cleveland State. Despite the impressive league record, Wright State remains behind Green Bay for now thanks to a worse record among common opponents. In both games this weekend, the Raiders took a commanding first quarter lead and rode that early success to a comfortable win. WSU held a 18-8 lead after one quarter on Friday and a dominant 15-4 lead on Saturday.
2020 All-Defensive Team pick Tyler Frierson was a force on both sides of the ball this week. She averaged 10 points and 7.5 rebounds for the Raiders over the weekend. She led the team in scoring on Friday and in rebounding for both games.
- Oakland Golden Grizzlies (4-7, 4-4 in Horizon League play)
In a women’s basketball season where everything has seemed so clearcut, the biggest question marks lie between teams four and six in this week’s rankings. This week, Oakland and Youngstown State split, with each team having a convincing win over the other. While it’s entirely possible things will change, for now Oakland gets the benefit of the doubt largely because the team has been able to play all of its league games. The Golden Grizzlies knocked off Wright State and nearly pulled off a win over Green Bay.
Preseason All-League guard Kahlaijah Dean’s results overlapped strongly with Oakland’s. Dean led Oakland in scoring with 14 points on 5-for-9 shooting in Friday’s 71-61 win. A night later, she scored just six points despite taking one more shot in a 2-for-10 shooting night in the 72-57 loss.
- Cleveland State Vikings (2-4, 2-4 in Horizon League play)
On the other end of the Wright State series, Cleveland State struggled on offense on its way to being swept. The Vikings are a tough team to get a good read on at this point in the season. The teams CSU has lost to are a combined 13-1 in Horizon League play, while their wins are both against 0-8 Purdue Fort Wayne.
Mariah White – a Preseason First Team All-Horizon League pick who earned Second Team All-League honors in 2020 – was the only Viking to score in double figures in both games. She averaged 15 points per game, but shot just 31.4 percent from the field and 45.8 percent from the free throw line. White currently leads the Horizon League with 21.0 points per game, but is shooting just 38.4 percent from the field. Arguably more concerning is that her shooting percentage is that low when one of her five outings was a 15-for-23 night where she scored 36 points.
- Youngstown State Penguins (1-3, 1-3 in Horizon League play)
One of the best things about writing the power rankings this year has been how easy it’s been due to all the sweeps. Four weeks into league play, we almost had our third week where each team went 2-0 or 0-2, with the lone exception being the Youngstown State-Oakland series. For now, Youngstown State is below Oakland and CSU because they haven’t had as many chances to prove themselves.
Nneka Obiazor averaged 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Penguins against Oakland on her way to Horizon League Freshman of the Week. While it’s still early, the fact that the freshman forward is currently the leading scorer on a team that features 2020 First Team All-Horizon League guard Chelsea Olson and 2019 First Team All-Horizon League forward Mary Dunn.
- Detroit Mercy Titans (1-11, 1-7 in Horizon League play)
It shouldn’t be a surprise that Detroit Mercy was unable to hang with annual contender Green Bay for a full 40 minutes. Nobody on either roster was alive the last time Green Bay had as many league losses as Detroit Mercy finished the weekend with, and we’re not even halfway through Horizon League play.
2019 Big East All-Freshman Team pick Kaela Webb was the Titans’ only player to score in double figures. She averaged 18.5 points per game and despite all the attention that comes with being Detroit Mercy’s unquestioned focal point she was fairly efficient. If Webb can come close to this level of efficiency on a regular basis, the Titans could steal some victories with a little more production out of the supporting cast.
- Purdue Fort Wayne Mastodons (0-11, 0-8 in Horizon League play)
Purdue Fort Wayne can’t catch a break in its first season in the Horizon League. The combined Horizon League record of its four sets of opponents so far this season is 20-4, with all four of the losses from Cleveland State. Next up, the Mastodons take on perennial Horizon League powerhouse Green Bay. About the only good news for PFW is that the team isn’t currently scheduled to play Wright State, which holds a 7-1 league record.
In another weekend of offensive struggles for Purdue Fort Wayne, Riley Ott was able to put forth a solid outing on Friday. She scored 12 points on 5-for-9 shooting. It was the Mastodons’ lone double-digit scorer on Friday.