Every week, NCAA.com’s Starting Five will bring you a look at some of the top women’s basketball players in the country.
Here are this week’s standout competitors:
Kristine Anigwe, California, Sophomore, Center/Forward
Behind sophomore Kristine Anigwe, California is off to the best start to a season in school history at 9-0.
Anigwe scored a school-record 50 points as the Golden Bears beat Sacramento State 97-73 on Dec. 8. Anigwe turned in the first 50-point performance in school history – men’s or women’s. The 6’4″ forward topped the previous mark of 48 points set by Cal’s men’s player Ed Gray on February 22, 1997 against Washington State. Alexis Gray-Lawson previously held the women’s single-game scoring record with 47 points against Oregon State on Jan. 23, 2010. Anigwe’s 50 points also tie the Pac-12 women’s single-game record set by USC’s Cherie Nelson against Cal on March 10, 1989 and marks the highest-scoring game by any player in Division I basketball this season. Last season, Anigwe scored 43 points against Sacramento State. Anigwe added a season-high 14 rebounds – one shy of her career high – two blocks, and went 19-23 from the floor, a stat line made even more impressive by the fact that she played only 24 minutes.
She followed the record-setting performance with 26 points and added 11 rebounds as Cal defeated Lehigh 96-63 on Dec. 11. It was Anigwe’s sixth double-double of the season and the 20th of her career. She played just 23 minutes in Sunday’s victory, going 12-14 from the floor with two blocked shots.
The Golden Bears will next play in the Las Vegas Tournament on Dec. 19 against Southern Miss.
Napheesa Collier, UConn, Sophomore, Forward
Sophomore forward Napheesa Collier averaged 21.0 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.5 steals and 2.5 blocks per game while shooting 70.8-percent (17-of-24) from the floor and 88.9-percent from the charity in a 2-0 week for the No. 1 Huskies, which included wins at No. 2 Notre Dame and Kansas State.
Collier started the week with 20 points, to go along with five rebounds against Notre Dame on Dec. 7 as the Huskies prevailed 72-61. UConn, was able to pull away from a 34-all halftime tie behind Collier, who scored 14 of her points in the second half after playing just nine minutes in the first half because of foul trouble.
She followed that up with a 22-point, eight-rebound, five-block, six-steal effort in a 75-58 win over Kansas State on Dec. 11. The game was played before a sellout crowd of 12,528 fans at Kansas State’s Bramlage Coliseum. Collier has now scored at least 20 points in five out of the last six contests, including the last three games.
Riding an 84-game winning streak, UConn is back in action this Sunday, Dec. 19 at home against Ohio State.
Brionna Jones, Maryland, Senior, Center
Maryland remains undefeated behind the strong play of Brionna Jones, who led the Terps to two dominant wins on the week, shooting 75.0 percent from the field (21-for-28) and averaging 24.5 points and 6.0 rebounds per game.
Against Towson on Dec. 6, Jones scored 19 points with eight boards and two blocks in just 14 minutes on the floor as Maryland won 97-63. In the Terps’ 101-49 win over Saint Peter’s on Dec. 8, Jones went 14-for-16 from the floor for a career-high 30 points with four boards, four steals and a block in 20 minutes.
A 67.2 percent shooter from the floor this season, Jones currently leads the Big Ten Conference and is amongst the national leaders.
The 11-0 Terrapins will next play at Duquesne on Dec. 21.
Fans’ Choice: Brooke McCarty, Texas, Junior, Guard
Texas scored a much-needed victory over Tennessee as Brooke McCarty led five Longhorns in double-figures with 13 points, four blocked shots and four assists as the Longhorns prevailed 72-67. It was the third straight win by Texas over the Lady Vols. Totaling 37 minutes of playing time, McCarty was 4 of 10 from the field that included two three-point field goals, while connecting on three of four free throws.
A First-Team All-Big 12 Selection as a sophomore last season, McCarty currently leads the Longhorns with a 14.3 points per game average while dishing out a team-best 25 assists.
In the midst of a five-game home stand, Texas, 3-4, will next host UT Rio Grande Valley on Dec. 15, followed by UTSA on Dec. 17.
Kelsey Plum, Washington, Senior, Guard
Washington senior guard Kelsey Plum made history last week in becoming the all-time leading scorer in Pac-12 Conference history. She broke the record in fashion, scoring 44 points as Huskies defeated Boise State, 92-66 on Dec. 11. Plum, who now has 2,759 career points, surpassed former Stanford Cardinal Chiney Ogwumike (2011-14, 2,737 points).
Against the Broncos, Plum scored 22 points in the first half alone to tie the record before breaking it with a free throw in the third quarter. The Poway, Calif. native also matched her career-high with nine rebounds to go along with four assists and five steals while going 9-of-9 from the foul line. The nation’s leading scorer also knocked down five three-pointers in the game to tie the career record at Washington. She now has 265 three-pointers, which ties Jazmine Davis’ (2011-15) record.
Earlier in the week on Dec. 7, Plum led all scorers in the 101-44 win against CSUN, dropping 30 points on 10-of-15 shooting and 4-of-7 from three-point range.
For the week, Plum averaged 37 points while pulling down 12 rebounds, dishing out seven assists, while shooting 610.% (25-41) from the floor and 15-16 at the free throw line.
Washington returns to action this Sunday, Dec. 18 at home against Savannah State.