Women's college basketball: ODU's Jennie Simms powers Starting Five
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 the standout competitors:
Emily Clemens, Western Illinois, Junior, Guard
Junior guard Emily Clemens helped Western Illinois move into a tie for second place in The Summit League standings after going 2-0 last week with wins over Oral Roberts and Omaha. Her 21 points, four assists and zero turnovers helped guide the Leathernecks to a 76-62 victory at Oral Roberts on Feb. 1. That performance was followed up with 20 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and six steals in the 80-63 home win against Omaha on Feb. 4.
Over the course of the week, Clemens averaged 20.5 points, 6.0 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 4.0 steals per contest. She shot a combined 10-for-23 (43.5 percent) from the field and 19-for-22 (86.4 percent) from the charity stripe. The Muscatine, Iowa, native currently ranks second in The Summit with an average of 18.8 points per game. The Leathernecks, 18-6 overall and 8-3 in Summit League play, shift their focus to a pair of road games this week at North Dakota State (Feb. 8) and Denver (Feb. 11).
Taylor Gleason, Oakland, Junior, Guard
Oakland guard Taylor Gleason had a pair of 20-point games while shooting 60.9 percent from the field in helping to lead the Golden Grizzlies to wins over Green Bay and Milwaukee. Gleason — a native of Grand Blanc, Mich. — scored a team-high 20 points with four rebounds and three assists to lead Oakland to a 74-71 upset win over No. 21 Green Bay. The win snapped Green Bay's 11-game win streak and marked the second consecutive year the Golden Grizzlies have defeated the Phoenix when they were nationally ranked. It was also Oakland's first home win over a ranked opponent since 2009.
She followed with her second consecutive 20-point performance with seven rebounds and four assists leading Oakland to a 77-63 win over Milwaukee. Oakland, 13-10 overall and 7-5 in the Horizon League, will next play at arch-rival Detroit Mercy on Saturday, Feb. 11.
Kelsey Mitchell, Ohio State, Junior, Guard
Ohio State, 21-5 overall and 11-1 in the Big Ten Conference, has kept pace with Maryland in the chase for the regular season title behind the strong play of junior All-American candidate Kelsey Mitchell.
Mitchell averaged 27.5 points and 4.5 assists per game with a .581 field goal percentage and .556 percentage from the 3-point line in leading Ohio State to a pair of Big Ten wins last week over Penn State and Wisconsin. She scored a team-high 23 points and handed out a game-best five assists in the Buckeyes’ victory at home over Penn State on Feb. 1. She followed with 32 points on 11-of-13 shooting, including 6-of-8 from 3-point range, in Ohio State’s win at Wisconsin on Feb. 4.
She currently leads the Big Ten and ranks sixth nationally in scoring (23.2 points per game), while standing second in the Big Ten and fifth in the country in 3-point field goals per game (3.38). She ranks fourth in Big Ten history with 341 career 3-point field goals made and eighth in the conference record book with 2,364 points. Ohio State is back in action at home on Feb. 12 against Iowa.
Zaire O’Neil, Georgia Tech, Junior, Forward
Georgia Tech junior forward Zaire O’Neil established new career-highs in back-to-back games for the Yellow Jackets. The Newark, N.J., native opened the week by matching her career-high with 24 points as Georgia Tech erased a 22-point deficit at Virginia and forced overtime, before losing 65-64. The forward also pulled down a career-high 14 rebounds against the Cavaliers for her first double-double of the season and sixth of her career.
O’Neil led Tech on Feb. 5 in an 87-81 victory over Virginia Tech, pouring in a team-best and new personal-high 25 points on 9-of-16 shooting. Additionally, she was 7-of-10 from the free-throw line, dished out three assists and recorded a steal against the Hokies. For the week, O’Neil averaged 24.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.0 steals per game. Georgia Tech, 14-9 overall and 3-7 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, returns to action welcoming North Carolina State on Feb. 9.
Jennie Simms, Old Dominion, Senior Guard
Old Dominion senior guard Jennie Simms celebrated being named to the USBWA National Player of the Year Midseason Watch List by averaging 36.5 points, 10.0 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 3.0 blocks and 1.5 steals in a pair of Old Dominion road victories in Florida over the weekend.
Simms led the Lady Monarchs to a 86-64 victory at FIU on Feb. 2 with 32 points, seven rebounds and six assists. She followed with 43 points, 13 rebounds and six assists in the 93-73 win at Florida Atlantic on Saturday. Simms shot 56.6 percent from the field during the week and also tied her career high with three blocks in each of the games. The nation's second-leading scorer at 25.8 points per game, Simms also broke Old Dominion career records for 40-point scoring games (3) and 30-point scoring games (14), and also passed Nyree Roberts for eighth on the ODU all-time scoring list with 1,913 career points. Old Dominion, 12-10 overall and 7-4 in Conference USA, will next host Middle Tennessee on Feb. 9.