Editor’s note: Charlie Creme, Graham Hays and Mechelle Voepel each vote to determine espnW’s national player of the week, which is awarded every week of the women’s college basketball season.
A 6-foot-4 center who has turned herself into a competent 3-point shooter led the biggest upset of this women’s basketball season so far. On Sunday, she had the best game of what has been the best season of her college career.
Jenna Allen scored 27 points to lead unranked Michigan State to a 88-82 upset of No. 3 Oregon on Sunday. With that, the senior earned the espnW national player of the week honors. She also had 16 points and four rebounds in the Spartans’ 102-58 victory over Oakland on Wednesday.
It was the second Sunday in a row an unranked team beat a top-10 team, as Gonzaga defeated then-No. 8 Stanford 79-73 on Dec. 2. That game was overshadowed, though, by the UConn-Notre Dame battle the same day.
It propelled Gonzaga into the Associated Press poll at No. 24, and now we’ll see if the same happens this week for the 8-1 Spartans. Their only loss is to undefeated NC State.
Allen started just three games in her first two years at Michigan State, and then 25 last year. Her scoring averaged her first three seasons: 4.5, 6.9, 9.9.
Now she’s at 16.3 PPG, and also has her highest rebounding average at 7.3. Allen made 21 3-pointers over her first three seasons, but has 10 so far this year. She had three treys Sunday, including what essentially was the game-clincher with 34 seconds left. The Spartans had been clinging to a three-point lead, and Allen’s big bucket gave them just enough breathing room.
Allen was 11 of 14 from the field, 3 of 4 from long range. She also had seven rebounds.
“I am just so proud of Jenna,” Michigan State coach Suzy Merchant said. “She is just playing like a senior should. We haven’t always had that, but when you do, it’s just a really, really special feeling.”
Michigan State didn’t start the game well, trailing 9-0 and then 16-4. But the Spartans climbed back to lead 46-39 at halftime. Then they held on in the second half for what Merchant said was one of the program’s biggest victories.
How big was Allen’s performance? In almost any other week, Northern Illinois’ Mikayla Voigt would have been a shoe-in as player of the week. Voigt had a program-record 52 points in the Huskies’ 86-61 victory over Western Illinois on Saturday. She made 11 of 15 3-pointers and was 19 of 25 overall from the field.
Voigt also had 19 points and 10 rebounds Friday, when Northern Illinois fell 82-73 to Southern Illinois.
But Michigan State’s victory over Oregon could have NCAA tournament ramifications, even though it comes this early in the season. For the Spartans, it could be a key confidence boost when they enter Big Ten play against Iowa on Dec. 30 (ESPN2, 1 p.m. ET).
Also nominated: Asia Durr, Louisville; Madison Guebert, South Dakota State; Megan Gustafson, Iowa; Anriel Howard, Mississippi State; Mikayla Voigt, Northern Illinois; Evina Westbrook, Tennessee