IN THE RANKINGS:
St. Mary’s earned its way into this week’s WBCA NCAA DII Top 25 Coaches’ Poll after pulling off its second huge upset in the last three weeks. The Rattlers defeated No. 21 Angelo State 70-64 at home last week to improve to 8-1 on the season. Back on Nov. 23, the Rattlers upset then No. 1 Central Missouri 101-97 in double overtime. The Rattlers travel to Wichita Falls, Texas this Saturday to face MSU Texas at 2 p.m.
West Texas A&M continued its slow move toward the top of the rankings this week as they move up one spot to No. 3. The Lady Buffs defeated Science & Arts of Oklahoma 71-42 in an exhibition game last week. WT will travel to Fort Lauderdale, Fla. where they will face Barry and Palm Beach Atlantic this weekend in the Cruzin Classic.
Angelo State only fell one spot this week to No. 22 after they split a pair of games last week. The Belles defeated Texas A&M-Kingsville 75-43 on the road last Thursday before falling 70-64 on the road to St. Mary’s. The Belles will travel to Daytona, Fla. This weekend for the Daytona Hoops Classic where they will play Urbana and Montana State Billings.
We have entered the time of year where the basketball schedule slows down as the players study to pass their final exams. Some teams took their finals last week, but most teams will take finals this week. Most teams take one to two weeks off during this time to allow their players ample time to study and to prepare for the upcoming conference schedule in January.
Teams also are trending towards scheduling more tournaments during the holiday season. Attendance for on campus games during the holidays is sometimes tough as the students are not on campus and a lot of the fans travel during the holiday season.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK:
Kaitlin Walla, St. Mary’s, Guard, Sr., Georgetown, Texas
St. Mary’s senior Kaitlin Walla scored 23 points and connected on five 3-pointers to help St. Mary's defeat No. 21 Angelo State for its second victory of the season against a top-25 team. Walla connected on 50-percent shooting from the floor, 7-of-14, while going 5-of-9 from beyond the arc. The victory was the 7th in a row for the red-hot Rattlers, who defeated Angelo State on the road, 70-64, in its lone game last week. Walla is averaging 18.1 points per game this season which ranks second in the conference. Walla also added two rebounds and an assist in the win for StMU. This is Walla’s second player of the week award this season and the second of her career.
Lone Star Conference:
Dezirae Hampton, Angelo State University, SR, Psychology, Guard, Arlington, Texas, Lamar
Hampton had an excellent week as the Belles went 2-1, including two in-region wins. She started off strong, shooting 50 percent from the field and making four three pointers against Texas A&M-Kingsville. She followed that up by shooting 50 percent from the field against nationally ranked St. Mary's and shooting 56 percent against Texas A&M-International. She also averaged nine rebounds, just under three assists, and over two steal per contest over the three game stretch.
Natalie Halbleib, Cameron University, SR, Biology, Guard, Aurora, Colo., Grandview HS
Halbleib was a key part of the Aggies big 66-62 win over Lubbock Christian, who was receiving votes in the WBCA top-25 poll last week. The senior finished the game with 10 points, four rebounds, four assists, and three steals. With her team trailing by seven with just four minutes to play, Halbleib hit her first three to cut the LCU lead to four. After Cameron tied the game at 60 and the Lady Chaps went back up by two with 34 seconds left to play, Halbleib hit her second three to give CU a one-point advantage. She then helped secure the win with a defensive stop of LCU’s top scorer and defensive rebound, before adding her third steal of the game as time expired.
AROUND THE CONFERENCE:
Angelo State – Won vs Texas A&M-Kingsville 75-43; Lost vs St. Mary’s 70-64
Lubbock Christian – Lost at Southwestern Oklahoma State 77-75; Lost at Cameron 66-62
Midwestern State – Did not play last week.
St. Edward’s – Won vs Jarvis Christian 82-54
St. Mary’s – Won vs No. 21 Angelo State 70-64
Tarleton State – Won vs Arlington Baptist 98-66
Texas A&M-Commerce – Did not play last week.
Texas A&M International – Lost at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 84-36
Texas A&M-Kingsville – Lost at No. 21 Angelo State 75-43
Texas Woman’s – Won vs Texas Wesleyan 65-55
UT Permian Basin – Lost vs Western New Mexico 61-41
West Texas A&M – Won vs Science & Arts 71-42
GAMES TO WATCH:
Tarleton State at St. Edward’s Friday at 6 p.m.
St. Mary’s at Midwestern State Saturday at 2 p.m.
IN THE RANKINGS:
East Texas Baptist dropped one spot to No. 13 in the latest release of the WBCA DIII Women’s Top 25 Coaches’ Poll. The Lady Tigers only played one game last week and dominated Sul Ross State 82-54 at home on Saturday. The Lady Tigers have two conference games this week and host Howard Payne on Monday and LeTourneau on Thursday.
Mary Hardin-Baylor moved up two spots to No. 15 after another impressive win this week. The Cru made another statement to the ASC that they are the team to be reckoned with as they defeated No. 18 UT Dallas 75-70 on the road last Saturday. The Cru now own wins over both the ranked women’s teams in the ASC. The Cru play Ozarks at home on Saturday in a game matching the only undefeated teams remaining in the ASC.
UT Dallas slipped another spot this week to No. 19 after they split a pair of games at home last week. The Comets defeated Concordia Texas 70-59 last Thursday before suffering a 75-70 defeat to then No. 17 Mary Hardin-Baylor. The Cru have the week as they prepare to travel to Abilene, Texas for two conference games starting Dec. 18.
The ASC and SCAC are continuing their conference play. After this weekend, the ASC conference schedule will mostly pause until January when most of the games played will be conference games. The SCAC has only played a couple of conference game thus far, but that will change towards the end of this week. Most of the teams in the SCAC will play conference games through the end of the season with an occasional non-conference game mixed in the schedule.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK:
American Southwest Conference:
CO-EAST DIVISION PLAYER OF THE WEEK – Savannah Kate Smith, Sr., G, Ozarks
Ozarks senior guard Savannah Kate Smith (Perryville, Ark.) led the Eagles to a 2-0 start in conference play by averaging 14.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.0 blocks and 3.0 steals per game. She scored 14 points in Monday’s 72-60 win over McMurry, then helped Ozarks overcome a 15-point third quarter deficit for an 80-72 victory over Hardin-Simmons on Wednesday. Smith scored 10 points in the fourth, including a three-pointer with 2:02 remaining to give the Eagles the lead for good. She finished with 14 points, six assists and five steals against the Cowgirls.
CO-EAST DIVISION PLAYER OF THE WEEK – Carissa Spiker, Jr., G, UT Tyler
UT Tyler junior guard Carissa Spiker (Sanger, Texas) averaged 22.0 points, 2.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game while shooting 58.6 percent (17-of-28) from the field and 50 percent (5-of-10) from outside as the Patriots picked up a pair of home wins. She scored 20 points with five assists in an 84-60 victory over McMurry and had 24 points with three rebounds in a 78-64 win over Hardin-Simmons to earn her third career Player of the Week honors.
WEST DIVISION PLAYER OF THE WEEK – Payton Berger, Jr., F, Concordia Texas
Concordia Texas junior forward Payton Berger (Azle, Texas) had back-to-back 20-point performances, including a career-high 26 points in the Tornados’ loss at No 18/21 UT Dallas on Thursday. On Monday, she scored 20 points with nine rebounds as Concordia rallied to defeat Schreiner 79-73 in overtime. Berger added 10 rebounds go with her 26 points in the loss to the Comets to average 23.0 points and 9.5 rebounds per game for the week.
Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference:
MCKENZEE GERTZ OF COLORADO COLLEGE, a sophomore guard from Fort Collins, Colo., has been named the SCAC Women’s Basketball Player of the Week for games played from Monday, December 3 through Sunday, December 9.
Gertz scored 13 points and grabbed six rebounds as Colorado College opened SCAC play with a 91-58 victory over Johnson & Wales University. In two games this weekend, Gertz earned a spot on the all-tournament team at the 2018 Kim Evanger Raney Classic at Whitman College after averaging 12.5 points and 11 rebounds per game. In Saturday’s 60-52 loss to Whitworth University, Gertz posted her second double-double of the season with 10 points and a career-best 17 rebounds. With a pair of three-pointers, the sophomore winger pulled even with Korbyn Ukasick (2013-17) for seventh place on Colorado College’s career list with 87.
AROUND THE CONFERENCE:
Austin College – Did not play last week.
Concordia Texas – Won at Schreiner 79-73; Lost at UT Dallas 70-59
Dallas – Did not play last week.
East Texas Baptist – Won vs Sul Ross State 82-54
Hardin-Simmons – Lost at Ozarks 80-72; Lost at UT Tyler 78-64
Howard Payne – Won at LeTourneau 78-62
LeTourneau – Lost vs Sul Ross State 66-52; Lost vs Howard Payne 78-62
Mary Hardin-Baylor – Won at UT Dallas 75-70
McMurry – Lost at Ozarks 72-60; Lost at UT Tyler 84-60; Won at Southwestern (Tex.) 58-44
Schreiner – Lost vs Concordia Texas 79-73
Southwestern (Tex.) – Lost vs McMurry 58-44
Sul Ross State – Won at LeTourneau 66-52; Lost at East Texas Baptist 82-54
Texas Lutheran – Did not play last week.
Trinity (Tex.) – Did not play last week.
UT Dallas – Won vs Concordia Texas 70-59; Lost vs Mary Hardin-Baylor 75-70
UT Tyler – Won vs McMurry 84-60; Won vs Hardin-Simmons 78-64
GAMES TO WATCH:
Austin College at Hardin-Simmons Thursday at 7 p.m.
LeTourneau at East Texas Baptist Thursday at 5:30 p.m.
JWU (Denver) at Texas Lutheran Friday at 5:30 p.m.
Ozarks at Mary Hardin-Baylor Saturday at 1 p.m.
Colorado College at Southwestern (Tex.) Sunday at 1 p.m.
Cory Hogue is Dave Campbell's Texas Basketball small college correspondent follow him on Twitter at @HoagieSports and be sure to visit his website (linked below) for more coverage of Division II and Division III collegiate athletics.