Canadians in the 2021 NCAA Women’s Tournament, Part 2
The NCAA Women’s Tournament is finally back, and in this part 2 we will continue to look at the rest of the Canadian hoopers that will be playing for a national title over the next three weeks.
Aaliyah Edwards F 6’3” – #1 UConn
When you think about prestigious women’s basketball programs, you think about UConn, and Aaliyah Edwards has fit perfectly into their mold. Edwards has carved out a nice role for herself in just her freshman season, settling in as their most important player off of the bench. She’s had several massive performances this year including a 24-point 14-rebound clinic against Butler earlier on. The Huskies are coming into the tournament as favourites as per usual, and Aaliyah will be must watch TV as they try and capture another title.
Alyssa Jerome F 6’1” – #1 Stanford
Stanford has had an incredible season this year and have fully earned their #1 seed heading into the dance. Senior Alyssa Jerome has been a nice complimentary piece for this Cardinal team, but has had to take a step back in minutes compared to her first three seasons, only averaging 7 minutes per game. In what will be her final season, Jerome will be looking to go all the way to the national championship and contribute in whatever way possible; what’s certain is that she will be prepared when her name is called.
Louise Forsyth G 6’0” – #5 Gonzaga
Senior Louise Forsyth has played in 21 games for Gonzaga this season and has been a sturdy option off the bench. Given she’s in her final year, she’d likely want to be receiving more than 6.5 MPG, but the Langley, BC native is always ready when chosen, and plays smart basketball within the system. The Bulldogs have the potential to go on a run this tournament, and if they do so, Forsyth will likely see some action in what could be a perfect send off to a very solid collegiate career.
Yvonne Ejim F 6’1” – #5 Gonzaga
The second of two Canadians on this year’s Gonzaga squad is freshman Yvonne Ejim from Calgary. On a team this good, it’s not often you can slot into a role right away, but Ejim has made the most of her opportunities and earned every single one of her 23 appearances. She had a very solid 10-point 3-rebound game earlier in the season, and will likely feature for the Bulldogs in some capacity during what could be an extended postseason run.
Hailey Brown F 6’1” – #6 Michigan
Hailey Brown has been an absolute staple for this Michigan team since her freshman year 4 years ago, and fast-forward to now, the senior will be looking to ride off into the sunset with a title. Brown has started every single game over the past 4 years, and this season has been no different as she’s gotten into the starting lineup for all 19 outings. Brown is averaging 7.7 PPG and 4.1 RPG on 40% shooting, and is one of the main leaders on this Wolverines team. Michigan will be looking to avenge a disappointing exit in the Big 10 Tournament when they go against FGCU in the first round, and Brown will surely make an impact with her leadership and play.
Izzi Zingaro F 6’4” – #7 Iowa State
The Iowa State Cyclones have had a pretty solid season this year, and they’ll go into the tournament with the hopes of getting to the second weekend. A tough matchup with #10 seed Michigan State awaits them, but it’s March, and anything can happen when that ball is thrown up. Canadian freshman Izzi Zingaro has shown promise in the very limited 3 appearances she’s received this season, but more importantly, she’ll be able to soak in valuable tournament experience in just her first year, which will carry her a long way moving forward when the opportunities begin to increase.
Christina Morra F/C 6’3” – #9 Wake Forest
Junior Christina Morra has started in every game this season for Wake Forest, and the increase in minutes has been something she’s handled perfectly. Morra has been a steady pillar for this Wake Forest team all season long, and her numbers speak for themselves. Morra is averaging 10.1 PPG and 3.6 RPG to go alongside an impressive 52.5% shooting percentage from the field. Morra is a difference maker, and she will need to fulfill that role if the Demon Deacons hope to advance past a tricky Oklahoma State team.
Anika Weekes G 5’10” – #12 Central Michigan
Central Michigan has dominated the MAC conference this season, and they will have a legitimate chance to pull off an upset against Iowa this weekend. The first of two Canadians on the roster is Anika Weekes, who has created a nice role for herself in her redshirt sophomore season. Weekes has gotten a handful of starts, but for the most part has been one of Central Michigan’s key bench players, and will definitely factor into their chances of advancing past Iowa and even possibly into the second weekend.
Maryama Turkstra F 6’2” – #12 Central Michigan
The second Canadian on this upstart Chippewas squad is freshman Maryama Turkstra. The Ontario native is only in her first season with the team and therefore hasn’t been given many opportunities with only 5 appearances to her name. Freshman years are typically used as tools for learning and development though, and Maryama will get that with her teams’ trip to San Antonio, especially considering they could be staying there for longer than many expect.
Janika Griffith-Wallace G 5’9” – #13 VCU
This year’s VCU Rams team has no shortage of Canadian content with three Canucks on the roster, and the first one to enter our list is Junior Janika Griffith-Wallace. The Brampton, ON product transferred to VCU from Murray State, and had to sit out her previous year due to NCAA transfer rules. In this her first year back, Griffith-Wallace has made 22 appearances and averages 20.9 minutes-a-game off of the bench. She is a crucial piece for this Rams team and contributes with 7.3 PPG and 2.3 RPG. VCU will be an underdog in their first-round matchup, and Griffith-Wallace having a good game could potentially tip the scales in their favour.
Sam Robinson 6’1” F – #13 VCU
The next Canadian to discuss on this VCU Rams team is Redshirt sophomore Sam Robinson. Much like Griffith-Wallace, Robinson transferred over to VCU; originally playing her college ball at Central Michigan. After taking the requited year off, Robinson came back firing, and eventually played her way into the starting lineup for the last month of the season. Sam isn’t much of a scorer, rather she’s a sturdy defender that can produce on offence when called upon, and she will definitely be called on to perform in their first game against Indiana if they want any chance at an upset.
Sarah Te-Biasu G 5’5” – #13 VCU
The third Canadian on this year’s VCU squad is one of the most important players on her entire team let alone from north of the border. Te-Bisau is just a freshman, but she’s started in every game for the Rams this season, and has put up some nice numbers in the process. Te-Biasu is averaging 10.9 PPG alongside 2.7 APG and 3.4 RPG. Although listed at 5’5”, the Montreal product is agile and gifted when it comes to finding her own shot, making her the type of player that could go off at any moment during what VCU hopes is a Cinderella run.
Jada Grannum F 6’3” – #14 Middle Tennessee
Middle Tennessee will have an extremely tough interstate matchup in the first round against Tennessee, in a game that not many people will believe they can win. The Blue Raiders will need to shock the world, but even with a loss the tournament experience would prove valuable, especially for Canadian freshman Jada Grannum. The Mississauga, ON native has made 6 appearances this season, but a trip to the big dance in her freshman year will set her up nicely for what could be an illustrious college career in the future.
Written by Kyle Oliveira