From: Oxford, MS
Question: Malone was the rare impact freshman to get stronger and stronger as the year went on. Can she match her pace over the last ten games (11.1 ppg, 6.3 rpg) over the course of her sophomore season?
Random Stat: We've pointed to Mackenzie Loesing's maladjustment to new rules as a detriment to UB's chances against the better teams in the conference, but it was in fact Malone who led the team in disqualifications, with five.
Career: As far as 2013-14 freshman campaigns in Amherst go, Malone didn't get the same level of attention as Shannon Evans, even from outlets like this site that cover all of UB's offerings in greater depth, but maybe she should have. Her high school career includes an AAU National Championship, an undefeated, state championship junior season, and senior season numbers of 20 points, 10 boards, five assists, and three steals a game.
Like Evans on the men's side, Malone averaged upwards of eight points per game as a freshman playing about two dozen minutes a night. In their respective positions' secondary stat, both had about five per game - assists for Evans, rebounds for Malone - and similar steals numbers. But while Evans came off the bench each game, Malone started for the bulk of the season.
One of just three Bulls to play all 30 games, the freshman was third on the team in offensive, defensive, and total rebounding, made field goals, free throws, and shooting percentage, blocks, and of course scoring. Malone was not just a freshman stepping in after injuries to Cherridy Thornton, Sloane Walton, and Rachael Gregory left the Bulls thin; she would have played an contributed on any permutation of the 2013-14 Bulls.
Game of the year: With twelve minutes to play at Alumni Arena on 15 February, Northern Illinois' Alexis Lindstrom hit a three-pointer to give the Huskies a 13-point lead.
Over the final 11:44, Malone would put up a full game's worth of stats - 13 points, three rebounds, three steals, two assists, and a block - as UB roared back for a nine point victory. Eight of Malone's points came before the Bulls took the lead at 7:28.
Context aside, 15 February was undoubtedly Alexus' best game of the year. She finished with 20 points, 10 rebounds, and a whopping six steals. I had started humourously calling her "The Truth" a few games earlier, but this was a performance to remember.
2014-15 Outlook: It's kind of ridiculous that UB's front court has all three of Sharkey, Baccas, and Malone returning this year. Full disclosure: I am biased, and Malone is my absolute favourite player on this team. That said, as I hinted at when previewing Kristen Sharkey, I suspect that Malone, while not seeing too much more of the floor on a loaded team, will demand a larger chunk of the shots this year.
Like Shannon Evans, I expect her to get into double-digit scoring for the whole season. Christa Baccas is an All-MAC defensive presence, but Malone is the superior of the two in the offense, and could very well create a conundrum for Coach Jack looking to get her best five on the floor.
And, hopefully, everyone, including her school, spells her first name correctly this year.