While scoring and assist leaders typically grab the headlines, everyone knows a strong defense wins games. Protecting the paint, dominating the glass, keeping the offense from getting too close and forcing the outside shot — these are the a specialties of a select few in D3 women’s basketball — the five ladies described here are the best:
But which is the best of the best? We'll leave that up to you. The poll at the bottom of the page will close Tuesday at noon Pacific, so be sure to get your vote in on time, and share with friends so they can vote as well. We also left a spot for a write-in candidate, in case you think we missed someone. If so, tweet us @HEROSportsNews and let us know who we missed!
Jordan Holmes (Jr.) – Denison
Courtesy of Denison Athletics
136 blocks (1st)
17.3 reb/g (2nd)
For the second time this season, BR-33 Denison junior center Jordan Holmes finished with over 20 points and 20 rebounds in a game, scoring 22 points and 22 rebounds with five blocks as the Big Red ran their winning streak to 12 topping BR-253 Wooster 56-42. Holmes went 8-for-11 from the floor and was perfect in six attempt from the free-throw line. Eighteen of her 22 rebounds came on the defensive end.
To go along with her offensive skill, Holmes leads the nation in blocks with 133 and defensive rebounds — an average of 13 per game. She is second in D3 with 18 double-doubles, as well as total rebounds per game with 17.3.
Holmes is currently fourth on the all-time D3 blocks list, and 17th across all divisions, with 445 swats in her career. With 1,165 rebounds, she is just 53 boards shy of the all-time NCAC record for rebounds as well.
Sasha Williams (So.) – Stockton
Stockton's Sasha Williams' 130 Blocked Shots Ranks 2nd in all of D3 Women's Hoops (Photo Courtesy of Stockton Athletics)
130 blocks (2nd)
12.2 reb/g (19th)
BR-59 Stockton forward Sasha Williams has been a two-time New Jersey Athletic Conference Player of the Week honoree this season. Back in January, the sophomore averaged a double-double 14 points and 12.5 rebounds during a key week of conference play for the Ospreys.
Williams opened the week leading the Ospreys to a 65-54 victory over BR-39 Montclair State, leading the way with 10 points, nine rebounds and three blocks. She followed that performance up with a near triple-double with 18 points, 16 rebounds, nine blocks and three assists to notch Stockton’s 10th consecutive victory with a 60-54 win over BR-132 Kean.
As just one of three NJAC players averaging a double-double this season, Williams currently ranks in the Top 10 of the league in five different categories, leading the league in both blocked shots and defensive rebounds.
Alycia Rackliffe (Jr.) – Framingham St.
Alycia Rackliffe has was named MASCAC Player of the Week for two consecutive weeks in January (Framingham State Athletics photo)
75 blocks (8th)
11 reb/g (41st)
Junior center Alycia Rackliffe is averaging a double-double on the season for BR-160 Framingham State. Second on the Ram roster with 12.2 points per game, Rackliffe ranks in the top-50 in the nation in rebounding with her domination off the glass, pulling down 11 boards per game.
Rackliffe has earned honors as the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference Women’s Basketball Player of the Week three times this season, taking the honor back-to-back weeks back in early January. During the Clark Holiday Tournament she was named to the All-Tournament Team after averaging a double-double over the break with 19 points, 14.5 rebounds, four blocks and 3.5 steals during the two games.
The only MASCAC player to be averaging a double-double this season, Rackliffe has 75 blocks to sit in the eighth spot in D3, while her 11 rebounds per game is tops in the league and ranks in the top-50 in the nation.
Lori Obendorf (Jr.) – Loras
Loras' Lori Obendorf (photo courtesy of Loras Athletics)
71 blocks (10th)
11.1 reb/g (35th)
Through 21 games, Loras junior center Lori Obendorf is averaging 10.5 points per game, and her 11.4 rebounds per game ranks her as one of the top in the nation. Her rebounding average along with her 71 blocks, which ranks 10th in the nation, are both tops in the Iowa Conference.
Earlier in January, Obendorf earned IIAC Player of the Week honors, after a pair of dominating performances during wins against BR-29 Luther and BR-21 Wartburg. In the Duhawks win over the Norse, Obendorf posted eight points and 15 rebounds, while adding five blocks. Then, against the Knights she finished with 14 points, nine rebounds and had another five-block day.
Kelsey Tietje (Jr.) – Defiance
45 blocks (T51st)
11.5 reb/g (T27th)
BR-223 Defiance junior Kelsey Tietje will need to add some room to her trophy shelf, as she continues to add to her list of weekly honors by being selected the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) Division III Women's National Player of the Week.
Tietje scored a career-tying high 37 points in a win against BR-266 Earlham, 81-70. Earlier in the week, she had already been named the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Women's Basketball Player of the Week. The Yellow Jackets posted a 2-0 record during the week which saw Tietje average 26.5 points and 13.0 rebounds per game.
She shot a stellar 80.8 percent, going 21-of-26 overall from the field, which included a 10-of-12 effort against the Ravens, and 78.6 percent (11-of-14) at the free-throw line, also added nine blocked shots and a steal.
In the team's win against BR-303 Anderson (IN), Tietje scored 24 points and 14 rebounds. Against BR-? Hanover (IN), she tallied 29 points and grabbed 12 boards to record her 10th and 11th double-doubles for the season. She now has 43 double-doubles for her career and has scored 1,225 career points and moves into 11th place all-time on the scoring list.