The talk of the women’s basketball world at the moment centers around – you guessed it – the University of Connecticut Huskies’ pursuit of their own NCAA record for most consecutive wins. With a 102-37 rout of No. 20 South Florida on Tuesday, the Huskies won their 90th straight game to match their record from 2008-10. They will look to set a new benchmark when they face SMU on Saturday (3 ET, ESPN3).
However, after dominating the 2016 WNBA Draft with the top three selections coming from the same school for the first time ever, UConn is not led by dominant seniors this year. That may be the scariest fact about this UConn squad — that they could lose Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck, play against top competition (Baylor, Notre Dame, Maryland) and still not lose a game. Their top two scorers are sophomores; their top scoring senior (Saniya Chong) averages 6.5 points per game. How long can Geno Auriemma and his squad stay unbeaten as they pursue their fifth straight NCAA title?
Thankfully, the UConn women are not the only ones breaking or challenging records this season. And that is where we begin the latest edition of the senior watch.
Kelsey Plum, Washington
The nation’s leading scorer at 30.7 points per game is coming off a 39-point performance in Washington’s 82-70 win over UCLA on Sunday. Plum has scored at least 34 points in three of her last four games as she inches closer and closer to becoming just the 12th woman in NCAA history to score 3,000 points.
3,000-Point Club, NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball
|Jackie Stiles||SW Missouri St.||3,393||2001|
|Patricia Hoskins||Miss. Valley St.||3,122||1989|
|Elena Delle Donne||Delaware||3,039||2013|
With 2,971 career points, Plum needs just 29 points to reach 3,000 and will have her first shot at joining that elite club when the Huskies face Arizona in a Pac-12 matchup this Friday.
But the biggest question is whether or not Plum can climb all the way to the top of the scoring list and challenge Jackie Styles’ all-time record of 3,393 points. It may come down to how long the Huskies can advance in their conference tournament and the NCAA tournament. Trailing by 422 points, Plum would need 14 games to surpass Styles if she can keep up her ridiculous scoring average (30.7 ppg) and even a few more games if her scoring dips down the stretch. Washington has 13 games left on its schedule before the Pac-12 Tournament begins in March.
Tori Jankoska, Michigan State
Jankoska entered Tuesday’s game against No. 11 Ohio State needing just seven points to surpass Aerial Powers (the 5th pick in the 2016 WNBA Draft) as the leading scorer in Michigan State women’s basketball history.
Jankoska not only got the seven points she needed to pass Powers, but 35 more as she broke the Michigan State single-game scoring record with 42 points to lead the Spartans to a 94-75 upset over the Buckeyes.
— Spartan Basketball (@MSU_WBasketball) January 11, 2017
Thanks to her record-setting performance, Jankoska jumped from 11th to 6th in the nation in scoring at 22.8 points per game. But she has proved to be more than a scorer for the Spartans. In addition to her 42 points on Tuesday she also dished out seven assists, grabbed six boards and notched two steals.
Her scoring acumen and 3-point shooting range – she had eight threes on Tuesday – will make her an intriguing prospect for WNBA teams. But her ability to do more than just score should help set her apart.
Brionna Jones, Maryland
While we have highlighted her teammate Shatori Walker-Kimbrough in previous editions of Senior Watch, it’s time to turn the spotlight on Brionna Jones – the 6-foot-3 center for the third-ranked Terrapins.
In Maryland’s most recent win over Northwestern, Jones recorded her sixth straight double-double and 10th of the season in just 16 games. In fact, Jones is averaging a double-double as she leads the Terps in both scoring (17.8 points per game) and rebounding (10.3 rebounds per game).
When it comes to looking at the top bigs in the upcoming draft, Jones will be in the discussion alongside South Carolina’s Alaina Coates, whom we’ve profiled in the past.
Editor’s Note (Jan. 12, 1:48 PT): Shortly after this article was originally published, Jones had a career-night with 42 points and 14 rebounds, while shooting 15-for-19 from the field and 12-of-14 from the free throw line in Maryland’s win over Penn State.
Reach 1,000 career boards ✅
Tie Maryland scoring record ✅
Seventh straight double-double ✅
— Maryland WBB (@umdwbb) January 12, 2017
Alexis Jones, Baylor
We go from one Jones to another with a closer look at Baylor’s do-everything guard Alexis Jones. She can score (team-high 15.9 points per game), she can create for others (second on team at 4.7 assists per game), she can shoot (team-high 40 3-pointers) and she can defend (team-high 21 steals).
— Baylor Lady Bears (@BaylorWBB) January 5, 2017
Jones’ combination of speed, court vision and long-range shooting ability makes her especially difficult to contain for opposing teams. If you guard her tight on the perimeter, she can explode past a defender and get in the lane for a layup or a dish off to a teammate. If you don’t guard her tight enough though, she will splash down 3-pointers at a 49.4% shooting percentage from beyond the arc.
Lindsay Allen, Notre Dame
Any team in need of a point guard has to have Lindsay Allen near the top of their draft board. The 5-foot-8 senior possesses the combination of skill and basketball IQ that make her one of the top point guards in the nation.
While she averages just 9.6 points per game, it is her 7.1 assists against just 1.9 turnovers per game that set her apart from the competition. She can create for herself when needed (she shoots 51.9% from the field), but primarily looks to set up her teammates on the offensive end.
On defense, she is a tenacious perimeter defender and the Irish’s second-best defensive rebounder at 4.4 per game. Allen’s rebounding ability allows her to initiate the offense immediately and get the Irish in transition for easy opportunities.
— The Fighting Irish 😷 (@FightingIrish) December 28, 2016
Be sure to tune in to ESPN2 on Monday at 4 ET to catch Allen and the sixth-ranked Irish take on Tennessee.