When a calendar year ends, it’s time to reflect on what has transpired. We’re also doing the same thing here at WAC Hoops Digest. Kyle McDonald brought you the men’s Top Ten Plays of the Year and now I get to bring you the women’s Top Ten Plays of the Year. We asked for some fan suggestions on Twitter too. Thank you to all who offered. This Top Ten list is limited to WAC regular season conference play and any postseason action. Here we go.
1. “I just threw it up an hoped.”
Any look back at the WAC in 2022-23 has to start with the escape of all escapes from regular season and tournament champion Southern Utah. Down two points with the last possession in their first game of the WAC tournament, the T-Birds had one final possession to either force overtime or defeat New Mexico State. What transpired next will likely go down as one of the greatest shots in mid-major basketball history.
— Dallin Richards (@97dallin) March 9, 2023
A couple of days later Southern Utah, defeated CBU in the WAC tournament final to earn their first NCAA Tournament appearance. That doesn’t happen without what might be remembered as the shot heard round the world. This shot saved a dream and is the play of the year on our Top Ten list.
2. Woods’ completes Bearkats comeback with 3-point play
On Monday afternoon at Mandalay Bay in opening round action of their final Western Athletic Conference tournament things weren’t looking good for Sam Houston State. They found themselves trailing Abilene Christian 72-57 with six minutes to go. However, the Bearkats pulled off the improbable comeback thanks to this play.
FINAL | @Bearkats_WBB 82, Abilene Christian 81
A thriller in the first round!
— The Western Athletic Conference (@WACsports) March 6, 2023
Sam Houston fell in Wednesday’s quarterfinals against Stephen F. Austin. However, the Bearkats finish their tenure in the WAC with a play no one in Huntsville will ever forget. Sam Houston State moves to Conference USA on July 1st.
3. Clark hits late 3-pointer to upset UTA
Not a lot went right for Seattle U’s women’s basketball team in 2021-22 leading to the decision by AD Shaney Fink to not retain head coach Suzy Barcomb. One bright moment, and perhaps the brightest moment of the year for Redhawk fans, was at Mandalay Bay in the first round of WAC tournament play. Down 10 points to start the fourth quarter, Seattle whittled away at the UTA lead and cutting it to one point, and eventually taking the lead on an Asta Blauenfeldt 3-pointer with 5:08 left in the fourth. A Taliyah Clark 3-pointer gave Seattle a 75-70 lead with just under a minute and a half left and a pair of Peyton Howard free throws clinched the Redhawks ticket to Wednesday’s quarterfinals where they fell to GCU.
Q4 | TALIYAH CLARK 👌👌👌
UTA 70 pic.twitter.com/VXhZ4aVASN
— Seattle U Women’s Basketball🏀 (@seattleu_wbb) March 7, 2023
4. Klaman’s buzzer-beater pushes Lancers to WBI final
With 12 seconds left in regulation in a WBI semifinal, the CBU women’s basketball team had possession and an opportunity to end the game. That’s exactly what Brittany Klaman did against Georgia Southern, getting the handoff from Grace Schmidt and then going to work in the post for the winning bucket.
𝗕𝗞❗️ 𝗛𝗔𝗩𝗘 𝗜𝗧 𝗬𝗢𝗨𝗥 𝗪𝗔𝗬❗️
Brittany Klaman hits the game-winner in overtime to send the Lancers to the WBI Championship game! CBU will take on WAC foe New Mexico State for the postseason title at 4:30 p.m. Pacific!#LanceUp⚔️ pic.twitter.com/gdFm2DyNoh
— California Baptist Women's Basketball (@CBUwbb) March 19, 2023
5. Jacobs’ buzzer-beater knocks Southern Utah from ranks of undefeated
Southern Utah had escaped every challenge in the early part of WAC regular season play. That is until a February 6th buzzer-beater by UTA’s Starr Jacobs gave the Lady Mavs a thrilling victory at College Park Center.
The tip-in at the buzzer from @Starr4Jacobs to give the Lady Mavs a 60-58 win over Southern Utah, who came in 9-0 in the WAC, is today's @FASTSIGNS North Arlington Statement Play of the Game.#BuckEm 🐎 | @ESPNAssignDesk | #SCtop10 pic.twitter.com/TDWb91e0Nn
— UTA Lady Mavs (@UTAMavsWBB) February 6, 2023
Despite the setback Southern Utah would earn their first regular season championship, winning the title by a game over Stephen F. Austin. Jacobs has announced she will return for her final season of eligibility as the Lady Mavs look to improve upon this year’s 8-10 mark in WAC play.
T6. A buzzer-beater in Riverside between the Aggies and Lancers
New Mexico State’s final trip to Riverside for an education day game on February 2 marked the Aggies first win over CBU since year one of the transition. The 62-61 Aggie victory is also the only game on this list with two plays.
This basket from Soufia Inoussa with 7.1 seconds left put the Aggies up 62-61…the margin they’d prevail by.
— NM State WBB (@NMStateWBB) February 2, 2023
If it weren’t in a losing effort, this no look save/pass to Kinsley Barrington from Trinity San Antonio would’ve been higher up on the list too.
— California Baptist Women's Basketball (@CBUwbb) February 2, 2023
7. Scott’s half-court 3-pointer at third quarter buzzer in Battle of the Piney Woods
Rivalries can bring out the best in teams and there’s no doubt the Battle of the Piney Woods has done so in every sport. Women’s basketball is no different and with one last regular season matchup, there’s another memory to add to the book. This one courtesy of Angel Scott who hit one from half court at the third quarter buzzer.
FINAL | @SFAWBB 71, Sam Houston 56
— The Western Athletic Conference (@WACsports) February 24, 2023
8. Miller goes off against UTA in big win at Moody Coliseum
It was January 7th and Madi Miller led Abilene Christian to a 20-point win over UT Arlington with a career day including 29 points with seven rebounds and four assists. Miller connected on seven shots from beyond the arc including this one early in the fourth quarter.
— ACU Women’s Basketball (@ACUWBB) January 7, 2023
Miller finished the season shooting 37.4 percent from beyond the arc, the highest mark of her career and also set a new high of 150 career rebounds (5.0 per contest).
9. Schmidt’s big day leads Lancers to opening night win over UT Arlington
It was December 29 when the WAC regular season campaign began for CBU with a home matchup against UT Arlington. Playing after the Christmas break is like a box of chocolates…you never know what you’re going to get. On this night, CBU got what was then a career night from freshman Grace Schmidt in her WAC debut en route to WAC Hoops Digest Freshman of the Year honors and an All-WAC Second Team selection.
— California Baptist Women's Basketball (@CBUwbb) December 30, 2022
Schmidt set her career-high in scoring eight days later at Utah Valley in a 69-61 win with 28 points. But to do what she did on opening night against a squad that made the NCAA tournament a year ago earns her a spot on this list.
10. Harrison’s big night pushes Ladyjacks to second round of WNIT
Jordan Harrison has developed into one of the WAC’s best distributors. However, in SFA’s WNIT first round game against Texas State, the freshman guard also showed she could score, recording a career-high 28 points in an 89-79 win.
— SFA Women's Basketball (@SFAWBB) March 17, 2023
SFA fell in the second round but finished the year as one of four WAC programs to record 20-plus wins in 2022-23.