USC’s Rayah Marshall leads this week’s women’s basketball Starting Five

Last week presented a number of standout performances in women’s college basketball. Here are five of the best through games played through Sunday, Jan. 1.

Grace Boffeli, Northern Iowa

Northern Iowa junior forward Grace Boffeli led the Panthers to a pair of wins over Bradley and Illinois State, averaging just shy of a double-double in the process. Over the two games, Boffeli averaged 21 points, 9.5 rebounds, one assist and led the Panthers in scoring in each contest.
 
In an 83-64 win over Bradley on Dec. 30, Boffeli only had two points in the first half against the Braves, but roared out to 15 points in the final two quarters to help put the game away in the third.
 
On New Year’s Day against Illinois State, UNI prevailed 74-64 as Boffeli came one-point shy of tying a career-high, scoring 25 against the Redbirds and picking up her fourth double-double of the year.
 
With her offensive output this past week, Boffeli is now fourth in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) in scoring, averaging 16.8 points a game.
 
UNI, 7-4 overall, is off to 2-0 start in MVC play on the road for the first time since 2017 with Sunday’s win. The Panthers will return home to play Murray State on Jan. 6.

POWER 10 RANKINGS: See the latest women’s basketball Power 10 rankings

Genesis Bryant, Illinois

Illinois is off to the best 15-game start in program history behind the strong play of junior guard Genesis Bryant, who led the Illini to wins last week over No. 12 Iowa and Wisconsin.
 
Over the Illini’s 2-0 week, Bryant averaged 19 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. She turned in 14 points at Wisconsin in a 79-63 win on Dec. 29 before registering a career-high 24 in the Illini’s 90-86 upset of Iowa on New Year’s Day. Making the most of the opportunities, the Wisconsin and Iowa games marked just the third and fourth starts of Bryant’s career.
 
Across the week, Bryant shot 68.4 percent (13-of-19) from the field, 71.4 percent (5-of-7) from 3-point range, and 1.000 (7-of-7) from the free throw line. The NC State transfer has now registered 14 games without a miss at the free throw line.
 
With the pair of wins, Illinois is out to a 13-2 start under first-year head coach Shauna Green and is 3-1 in Big Ten Conference play. The Illini return to play on Jan. 5 when they will host Northwestern.

UPSET ALERT: How Illinois beat Caitlin Clark and No. 12 Iowa

Shaiquel McGruder, New Mexico

New Mexico senior Shaiquel McGruder averaged 22.0 points, 10.5 rebounds, 3.5 blocks and 2.0 steals per game while shooting 76.9 percent from the floor on 20-26 shooting in a pair of wins last week over South Carolina State and Air Force.
 
McGruder recorded her fourth double-double of the season in Sunday’s conference opening 70-58 win over Air Force, reaching the feat in the first 20 minutes with 12 points and 11 rebounds. In addition, the Ohio native had two blocks and one steal by the break, finishing with a game-high 21 points, game-high 13 rebounds, game-high four blocks and two steals. Sunday was also the fourth time that the Lobo forward finished with 20-plus points, 12th game in double figures, 10th game registering multiple blocks and 11th game registering multiple steals this season. She’s had at least one steal and one block in 12 games this season and has had a block in all 14 games.
 
The week started with 23 points to go along with eight rebounds, three blocks and two steals in Thursday’s 107-55 win against South Carolina State, establishing game highs in points, rebounds and blocks in 23:16 of play.
 
McGruder leads the Mountain West Conference (MWC) in field-goal percentage at 66.4 percent, as well as steals (35), steals per game (2.5), blocks (40) and blocks per game (2.9), and is third in scoring with 15.1 points per game and fourth in rebounding with 8.2 per game. Nationally, the Lobo is third in the NCAA in blocks, sixth in blocks per game and sixth in field-goal percentage.
 
New Mexico, 9-5 overall and 1-0 in MWC play, returns to action on Jan. 5 at Wyoming.

TEAM OF THE WEEK: Duke women’s basketball earns first Team of the Week honor of 2023

Kseniya Malashka, Middle Tennessee

Kseniya Malashka, a redshirt senior from Minsk, Belarus, averaged 20.5 points, 3.5 blocks, 7.5 rebounds and two steals as Middle Tennessee scored wins over Charlotte (Dec. 29) and Western Kentucky (Dec. 31).
 
Against Charlotte, Malashka scored 22 points, grabbed eight rebounds, blocked three shots and recorded three steals in 28 minutes in a 71-46 win, while shooting 8-for-15 from the field. It was Malashka’s third straight 20-plus-point game.
 
Malashka tied a career high in blocks with four, along with 19 points and seven rebounds in a career-best 33 minutes in Saturday’s 80-75 road win over WKU. Ten of her 19 points came in the second quarter.
 
The Conference USA leader in blocks per game (2.2), Malashka ranks 18th nationally in the same category while ranking second in field goal percentage among C-USA qualifiers (.489). Through three conference games, Malashka is averaging a league-leading 21 points per contest.
 
Middle Tennessee (10-2, 3-0 C-USA), is off to its best start since 1995-96. The Lady Raiders have won eight consecutive games, including finishing December 7-0. The Lady Raiders return home to face UTSA on Jan. 5.

UNDEFEATED TEAMS: All the DI basketball teams yet to lose a game this season

Rayah Marshall, USC

USC sophomore forward Rayah Marshall made her mark in the USC history books with the most points scored by a Trojan since 2019.
 
Marshall scored a career-high 33 points in the Trojans’ 69-58 win at Oregon State on Friday. She also hauled in 16 rebounds and kept her blocked shot streak alive as well with four in USC’s victory. It was the just the seventh 30-point and 15-rebound double-double by any player in the NCAA this season and the first such outing by a Trojan since at least 1999-2000. Marshall also accounted for 16 of USC’s 18 points in the fourth quarter against the Beavers and had over half USC’s total team rebounds in the win.
 
At No. 17 Oregon on New Year’s Day, Marshall continued her blocks streak in stretching her run to 34 straight games with at least one block while also tallying her fifth consecutive double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds even though USC came up short, 73-45.
 
For the season, Marshall is tied for seventh in the nation with her eight double-doubles and is No. 1 in the Pac-12 Conference with that total.
 
USC, 11-3 overall and 1-2 in Pac-12 play, will return to action on Jan. 8 when they host cross-town rival UCLA.

Leave a Comment