Print and Go Back Women's College Basketball [Print without images]

Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Freshmen are making a splash

By Michelle Smith

They've just arrived on the scene, but we already know their names. And for good reason. Finishing our list of the class of the classes, we present the top five freshmen in Division I women's college basketball.

1. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Connecticut. The Huskies have a new star in Mosqueda-Lewis, a forward with a sweet shot and a fearless attitude. On a team that is moving on after the graduation of Maya Moore, Mosqueda-Lewis, the No. 1 recruit in the nation, looks like the heir to Moore's All-American throne. She's second on the team in scoring at 14.4 points per game, leads the Huskies in 3-pointers and had a breakout game on national TV against Stanford, scoring 25 points off the bench. But as young players do, she's had her freshman moments, as well. Against Notre Dame on Saturday, she was 2-for-7 from the floor with six turnovers.

"I expect a lot from myself and when I don't perform the way I should, it really hurts," Mosqueda-Lewis told the Hartford Courant on Monday.

2. Elizabeth Williams, Duke. Williams, a 6-foot-3 center, already has had her signature moment this season with a triple-double in the Blue Devils' win over Wake Forest: 18 points, 16 rebounds and a conference-record 12 blocks. Williams had nine blocks in the first half of that game.

"There's no limits for Elizabeth," Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie is quoted as saying after that game. "There's nobody like her."

3. Ariel Massengale, Tennessee. There is a ton of veteran talent on Pat Summitt's team this season, but it is a freshman point guard who is leading the Lady Vols on the floor. Massengale, who missed a couple of weeks with a finger injury, is back on track. She scored a career-high 19 points to go with nine assists in the Vols' win over No. 16 Georgia.

4. Bria Smith, Louisville. The guard has started all 16 games for the 14th-ranked Cardinals, has a team-high 44 steals, and is third in minutes played (24.9) and fourth in scoring (11.5 points per game).

5. Reshanda Gray, Cal. The 11-5 Bears are led in scoring by Gray, a forward out of Los Angeles. She's scoring 10.6 points a game in a lineup in which 10 players are averaging double-digit minutes.

Five on the marquee

1. Keisha Hampton, DePaul. One of the best players to come through Doug Bruno's program, Hampton saw her season and career end after exploratory surgery on her right knee earlier in the week.

2. Maryland. The Terrapins are 16-0, and they've done it the hard way. First they notched a 77-74 win over Georgia Tech after being down by 20 points, and then they survived a 78-72 overtime game against North Carolina on Sunday.

3. Skylar Diggins, Notre Dame. The dynamic Irish point guard rises to the big moments. She scored 16 of her 22 points in the second half and overtime as No. 3 Notre Dame knocked off No. 2 Connecticut on Saturday.

4. Connecticut. The Huskies' 57-game Big East win streak ended with Saturday's overtime loss to Notre Dame. Connecticut has lost to two teams this season -- Baylor and Notre Dame -- proving that the transition from the Maya Moore years goes on.

5. Elena Delle Donne, Delaware. It was just another night at the office for the Blue Hens star, who had 40 points and 15 rebounds in a win over George Mason. Delle Donne remains the nation's No. 1 scorer.

Five names you should know (but probably don't)

1. Brittany Chambers, Kansas State. Chambers, a junior guard, became the first K-State player since Kendra Wecker in 2004 to put up 20 points in the team's first two Big 12 games. Chambers scored 21 in the Wildcats' 71-69 overtime upset over Texas A&M and followed with 23 against Kansas.

2. Rachel Banham, Minnesota. The freshman guard took Big Ten Player of the Week honors after averaging 23.5 points and 9.5 rebounds and shooting 87.5 percent from beyond the 3-point arc in the Gophers' wins over Indiana and Northwestern. She was Minnesota's first player of the week since 2009.

3. St. John's. The Red Storm struggled early in the season because of a spate of injuries, but they are rallying. With the return of senior forward Da'Shena Stevens and junior guard Nadirah McKenith, St. John's has pushed to a 10-6 record, including Sunday's upset win over Louisville.

4. St. Bonaventure. The Bonnies are off to a 14-2 start and are receiving votes in the AP Top 25 poll at the latest point in the season in program history. They are 6-0 on the road, one of only six teams in the nation with a spotless road record. St. Bonaventure faces Atlantic 10 favorite Temple on Wednesday.

5. Dominique Conners, San Diego. Conners, a senior guard, had 20 points in a big conference win for the Toreros over Saint Mary's. USD is playing on the heels of Gonzaga in the West Coast Conference with an 11-3 record. Next up is a big weekend matchup with new entrant BYU.