Makayla Epps, Guard, 5-foot-10, Sophomore, Kentucky
Makayla Epps’ breakout week included scoring a career-high 42 points in Thursday’s 92-90 win against No. 14 Mississippi State in double overtime. In that game she netted 15 of Kentucky’s 18 points in the overtime sessions, including the game-winning basket with 0.4 seconds remaining to put the Wildcats ahead.
The 42 points was the most in the Southeastern Conference this season, with Epps becoming just the fourth player in school history with 40 or more points in a single game. She connected on 18 of 30 from the field, including two 3-pointers. Her 18 field goals tied Kentucky’s single-game record for most field goals made with Valerie Still (1982). Her 30 field goal attempts were the second-most in a single game in school history. Epps came back from the scoring outburst to score a team-high 13 points and grab four rebounds as Kentucky lost at Tennessee 72-58 on Sunday. For the week, she averaged a team-high 27.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists and has now scored in double figures in 21 games, including all eight games since becoming the starting point guard on Jan. 15. Epps leads the Wildcats in scoring with 15.1 points per game and is averaging a team-best 20.0 points in her starting point guard role. Kentucky next hosts Texas A&M on Feb. 19.
Moriah Jefferson, Guard, 5-foot-7, Junior, Connecticut
Moriah Jefferson averaged 16.0 points on 68.4 percent shooting, including 71.4 percent from 3-point range (5-for-7), 4.5 rebounds and dished out 11 assists against only one turnover as UConn moved back to the top of the national rankings with two wins against previously undefeated and top-ranked South Carolina and Tulane. Jefferson opened the week with 16 points, six assists and four rebounds in the 87-62 win versus the Gamecocks on Feb. 9. She followed that with a 16-point, five-rebound, five-assist, four-steal performance in the Huskies’ 87-39 victory against the Green Wave on Saturday. One of five Huskies averaging double figures in scoring this season, Jefferson upped her season mark to 11.7 points per game. UConn heads to Tulsa on Feb. 21.
Shae Kelly, Forward, 6-foot-1, Senior, Minnesota
Minnesota kept pace for third place in the competitive Big Ten Conference with a pair of wins against Wisconsin (93-82) and Penn State (85-77) this past week as Shae Kelly averaged 28.0 points, 11.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.5 blocks per game in the two wins. Kelly had a career-high 33 points, including a career-best 13 made free throws, and pulled down 14 rebounds for her 10th double-double this season in the win against the Badgers. She posted her second consecutive 20-point performance with 23 points, and dished out five assists against the Lady Lions. Minnesota, 21-6 and 10-5 in conference, will need this and more from Kelly down the stretch of the regular season, with one more games remaining against Iowa on March 1. The Golden Gophers also host Michigan on Feb. 21 and play at Nebraska on Feb. 24.
Whitney Knight, Guard, 6-foot-3, Junior, Florida Gulf Coast
Whitney Knight earned her fourth conference player of the week award of the season as she led Florida Gulf Coast to wins last week against Northern Kentucky (75-47) and Lipscomb (69-43), as the Eagles maintained sole possession of first place in the Atlantic Sun Conference. Knight averaged 18.5 points in the wins, while also grabbing 9.5 rebounds per game in the two games. She scored 20 points in just 21 minutes played against Northern Kentucky. Two days later, Knight recorded her fifth double-double of the season in the win versus Lipscomb, with 17 points and 11 rebounds as Florida Gulf Coast extended its win streak to 18 games. She shot 58.3 percent from the field in the two games, going 7-for-12, while also making 6 of 13 3-pointers last week. She added five assists, four blocks and four steals in both wins combined. Florida Gulf Coast, 23-2 and 10-0, which has clinched a top-four spot in the upcoming Atlantic Sun Championship, returns to action on Feb. 19 at Kennesaw State.
Mariya Moore, Forward, 6-foot, Freshman, Louisville
Mariya Moore averaged 21.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 6.0 assists while helping Louisville to wins against North Carolina 75-66 and Clemson 81-49. Moore began the week with 15 points and eight assists in the win at Clemson. Moore scored a career-high 28 points, which included an 11-for-12 effort from the free-throw line in the win against the Tar Heels. The 28 points were the most scored by a Louisville freshman since Shoni Schimmel had 33 against Xavier on March 22, 2011. In the game against the Tar Heels, Moore connected on 11 made free throws to set a Louisville freshman single-game record. For the week, Moore converted 20 of 22 free throws. Moore currently leads the team with five 20-point performances this year and ranks 15th in the Atlantic Coast Conference in scoring (14.1), while boasting a team-best 98 assists. She is the only freshman to rank in the top 15 in scoring and top 10 in assists (3.9) in the ACC. She also boasts the best assist-turnover ratio (1.7) of any freshman in the league. Louisville, 22-3 and 10-2, next plays at Virginia Tech on Feb. 19.