Few changes after another weekend of sweeps
After a week out of the rankings, IUPUI returns to the top spot. Somebody is going to need to beat the Jaguars to justify dropping them from first. Elsewhere, things were pretty straightforward as once again every series ended in a sweep.
For a moment, it looked like Horizon League women’s basketball might have a week where all 12 teams played. Then Northern Kentucky revealed it wouldn’t be able to play due to COVID-19 protocols. Then Detroit Mercy opted to suspend its season after players alleged abuse by head coach AnnMarie Gilbert.
- IUPUI Jaguars
With IUPUI done with a second weekend of canceled games, all indications are that the Horizon League heavyweight showdown between the Jaguars and Milwaukee should go on as scheduled this weekend. As the defending champs who have obliterated every opponent they’ve played in the Horizon League, IUPUI jumps back into the rankings in first despite its pause.
- Milwaukee Panthers
At 10-0 in the Horizon League, Milwaukee didn’t do anything that explicitly deserved to get them kicked off of the top spot. But since the Panthers only had it last week on a technicality, IUPUI bumps them from the top. On Friday, Cleveland State actually gave the Panthers a competitive game While Milwaukee led by 13 after three quarters, they allowed CSU to make a late push and wound up winning 56-52. Saturday was more of what we’ve been used to from the Panthers so far, with the team taking an 18 point lead into halftime and coasting to a 65-44 win.
Megan Walstad became the second player to win Horizon League Player of the Week twice after a dominant weekend. Walstad averaged 20.5 points and 12 rebounds in the pair of victories over Cleveland State. While her counting stats probably aren’t strong enough to contend with the two-time defending Player of the Year Williams for the league’s top individual honor right now, she seems like a no-brainer for a First Team All-League spot if the Panthers remain near the top of the league.
- Green Bay Phoenix
With a pair of easy wins over Purdue Fort Wayne, Green Bay has done enough to hold serve among the schools that were in last week’s rankings (and remain where it was the last time IUPUI and NKU were ranked.) On Friday, the Phoenix took the lead with a little under four minutes to play in the first half and never looked back in a 62-46 victory. The Phoenix upped the ante from there on Saturday, leading for all 40 minutes in a 70-59 win.
Lyndsey Robson had a strong weekend for the Phoenix, averaging 14 points and five rebounds in the two wins. She has now hit double-figures in three consecutive games after reaching that mark just twice all season before two Saturdays ago. Robson’s 18 points on Friday led all scorers and tied a career high, and she was one of just three Green Bay players to score more than four points.
- Wright State Raiders
Whereas the Horizon League is dealing with an excessive amount of parity on the men’s basketball side, it has very little in women’s basketball this year. That’s how a team that’s 9-1 in league play wins up fifth in the power rankings of a 12-team league. This weekend, the Raiders went 2-0 with a pair of wins over Horizon League newcomer Robert Morris. WSU never trailed after the midway point of the first quarter on its way to a pair of solid wins. The Raiders won 58-48 on Friday and 58-51 on Saturday.
Tyler Frierson averaged a double-double with 10.5 points and 10.5 rebounds. In a weekend where scoring was at a premium her 76.9 percent shooting was vital for the Raiders, as were her eight offensive rebounds in the two games.
- Oakland Golden Grizzlies
There’s a pretty clear division between Oakland and the teams above it in the rankings right now. The first five teams have a combined 35-3 record in Horizon League play, with two of those losses coming to other Top Five teams. At 6-4, Oakland has more league losses than the top five by itself. The Golden Grizzlies didn’t get much of a chance to earn upward mobility this week with a pair of matchups against in-state rival Detroit Mercy. The Titans entered the weekend 1-7 in league play and left it 1-9. As was the case with Wright State, Oakland only trailed for a few first quarter minutes in the two 40 minute games.
Senior Autumn Kissman put forward two of the three best scoring performances of her college career over the weekend, with 17 points on Friday and 18 on Saturday. She finished this career weekend with a mind-boggling effective field goal percentage of 85.
- Youngstown State Penguins
Despite missing four games in Horizon League play so far, Youngstown State is one of the few teams in the league that has played a schedule that gave a pretty good indication of where the team stood so far. The Penguins were swept by Wright State, split with Oakland and easily swept UIC this weekend. The gap between Oakland and YSU currently seems pretty minuscule, . On Friday, the Penguins led for all but 21 seconds in the second half in a 77-66 victory.
Just three weekends into her college career, Nneka Obiazor has burst onto the scene in the Horizon League. While a two-point performance on Friday caused her scoring to plummet to 0.2 points per game behind former First Team All-League selections Chelsea Olson and Mary Dunn, she’s currently averaging 0.2 points per game less than former First Team All-League selections Chelsea Olson and Mary Dunn six games into her career while leading the team in rebounding by over two rebounds per game.
- Cleveland State Vikings
Cleveland State remains one of the toughest teams in the league to figure out thanks to its schedule, and it’ll likely remain that way through this weekend’s games against Green Bay. The Vikings were swept by Milwaukee, but the Panthers are currently 10-0 in Horizon League play and Friday’s close loss was actually a pretty intriguing result for a team that’s 2-6 in league play.
Unsurprisingly, much of the reason for CSU’s strong performance against the Panthers on Friday was an outstanding performance from All-League guard Mariah White. White shot 11-for-19 from the field on her way to scoring 29 of Cleveland State’s 52 points. Her 3-for-16 performance on Saturday likely contributed to the blowout loss for a team that currently seems way too dependent on the league’s leading scorer to carry it to victories.
- Robert Morris Colonials
If things play out the way I think they will, ranking RMU above a pair of schools that have actually won games this season is going to be difficult to justify until RMU actually gets to play one of those schools for its only league wins of the season. But I stand by the fact that the lack of a non-conference slate and RMU’s ridiculous league slate so far are the main reasons the team is still winless.
Esther Castedo led the Colonials in scoring in both games against Wright State, though with just eight points in Saturday’s loss it’s clear the team is still in search of a go-to scorer. Robert Morris has failed to have a player hit double-figures in four if its eight games this season. It does seem Castedo is the most likely current player to step into the go-to scoring role; she’s led the team in scoring in four games.
- UIC Flames
UIC returned to action after a COVID-19 related pause and lost a pair of games to Youngstown State. While the Penguins have also been limited in terms of games and it’s hard to tell how much this matters, both games were far more competitive than most previous efforts by the bottom teams in the league.
Kristian Young put forth a strong case for Freshman of the Week, but was likely punished because the Flames lost both games. Young averaged 17 points, six rebounds and eight assists for UIC. She put in a career-high 25 points on Saturday in the seven-point loss.
- Purdue Fort Wayne Mastodons
Purdue Fort Wayne – whose coach is facing her own allegations of abuse – remained winless after being swept by Green Bay. Despite trailing for virtually the entire game in both matchups, the overall scoring margin wasn’t bad considering how the Mastodons have performed lately. Saturday’s 11-point loss was the team’s closest of league play. Friday’s 16-point loss was its third closest of league play behind Saturday and a 15-point loss to Cleveland State on January 2.
Sierra Bell became the first player not named Riley Ott to score over 20 points for Purdue Fort Wayne this season, with 21 points on Saturday. It probably shouldn’t be a shock that having a player do that in a low-scoring game resulted in what is arguably the best performance the Mastodons have put forth this season.