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Bahamian women collegiate basketball players Valerie Nesbitt, Lashann Higgs and Shalonda Neely all saw action for their respective teams on Monday. PHOTOS: FILE

January 8, 2020

Sheldon Longley

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A trio of Bahamian women are making their presence felt in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I, making contributions for their respective teams in women’s college basketball.

Over in the Big 12 Conference, back from a devastating knee injury, Harbour Island native Lashann Higgs is turning heads with her resiliency in what is her final season playing college basketball. After suffering a season-ending anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury in her left knee a year ago, she is back on the court and putting up numbers, setting herself up for a post-collegiate career in basketball – one that was inconceivable just a year ago.

Wearing a brace on her reconstructed knee, Higgs is averaging 10.4 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game for the Texas Longhorns this season. In their last game, at the James H. Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa, USA, on Monday, Higgs had one of her better performances for the season, matching side-high honors with 17 points on 6-for-10 shooting, including 2-for-3 from distance. She also matched a season-high in assists with three.

Coming off the bench, Higgs provided the spark the Longhorns needed. They picked up a key 81-75 road win over the Iowa State Cyclones, improving to a 9-5 win-loss record on the season, 1-1 Big 12.

Higgs, a 5’ 9” guard, was just two points shy of her season-high, helping the Longhorns shoot 49 percent from the floor against the Cyclones. The Longhorns committed their fewest turnovers in a single game since the 2013 season, a total of six, and lost the ball only once in the first three quarters. They took a 17-point lead in the third quarter, and cruised the rest of the way, winning for the fifth consecutive time on the Cyclones’ home floor.

The Longhorns return to action on Sunday at 1 p.m., traveling to Morgantown, West Virginia, to face the No. 19 West Virginia Mountaineers.

Valerie Nesbitt and the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) Lady Rebels sport a 7-8 record on the season and are winless in two games in Southeastern Conference (SEC) play.

Nesbitt, a junior, is averaging 11.3 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 3.0 steals on the season. The 5’ 8” point guard has started 11 of 15 games for the Lady Rebels this season and is averaging 24.3 minutes per game.

In their latest outing, at the Reed Arena in College Station, Texas, on Monday, the Lady Rebels were never in the game against the nationally No. 10 ranked Texas A&M Aggies. The Aggies surged to a double-digit lead at the end of the first quarter and never looked back in the wire-to-wire win. The Aggies led by as much as 50 points and won easily, 79-35.

Nesbitt had one of her worst performances of the season, scoring just four points in 13 minutes of play. It was a season-low in points for her, and for just the third time this season, she failed to get to the free throw line. Nesbitt has season-high numbers of 20 points on November 29, 2019, against Alcorn State; eight assists on November 23, 2019, against Louisiana Tech; eight steals, also on November 23 against Louisiana Tech; and seven rebounds on December 28, 2019, against Alabama State.

Nesbitt leads the SEC in steals and is tied for 15th in the country.

Ole Miss returns to the Pavilion in Oxford, Mississippi, to face No. 23 Tennessee this Thursday at 8 p.m.

The Ole Miss Lady Rebels are coached by Bahamian Yolett “Coach Yo” McPhee-McCuin.

McPhee-McCuin’s former team, the Jacksonville Dolphins, are trying to find their way in the Atlantic Sun (ASUN) Conference. With help from Bahamian Shalonda Neely, a redshirt senior out of Freeport, Grand Bahama, they have an 8-6 record, 0-1 ASUN.

Prior to their conference opener on Monday, Neely and the Dolphins had won four straight games with an average margin of 19.5 points per contest.

Neely, a 6’ 0” center, is averaging career-high numbers across the board – 7.3 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game. She has started all but one game at center in her appearances this season. In their last outing, against the North Alabama Lions in Florence, Alabama, on Monday, Neely had seven points on 3-for-4 shooting in 20 minutes of play. She added four rebounds, two steals and a block, but the Dolphins fell, 76-65, on the road.

Neely and the Dolphins close out their five-game road swing with a meeting at Liberty on Saturday at 2 p.m., looking to get their first win in ASUN play this season.