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Hustle Belt's MAC Women's Basketball Players of the Week

Each week throughout the 2013-2014 women's basketball season, Hustle Belt will bestow weekly honors upon the MAC's most outstanding players from each division and from the freshman class. Here are this week's winners...

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Having a little time off to celebrate the holidays was apparently just the medicine that Mid-American Conference women's basketball needed, because the last week of games was much kinder to the league than the previous one was. When teams returned to post-Christmas action on Saturday, they went a collective 5-2 over the weekend, and one of the two losses was to a ranked Purdue team. The wins included road tests against IPFW and Valparaiso, as well as double-digit home victories against St. Francis (Pa.), Youngstown State and Cleveland State.

Competition for this week's honors was fierce, but these three players stood out the most...

Mid-American Conference Eastern Division Player of the Week
Erica Donovan, Bowling Green Falcons (Guard, Sophomore)

On Sunday in their non-conference finale, Bowling Green did what they've done so many times this season -- bury an opponent early and cruise to a big win. In this case, they took the lead after just 17 seconds and built a 31-8 advantage after just 8:25 had elapsed from the game clock. Erica Donovan was at the center of that blizzard of points. Her three-pointer was the opening salvo, and she scored 13 of Bowling Green's first 31 points. She finished the first half with 15 points and five rebounds. The Falcons never gave up their double-digit lead, and Donovan posted a double-double to lead that effort. Her final line included 22 points, ten rebounds, three assists and a steal. She sank six of 14 field goal attempts, including two three-pointers, but she was also 8-for-9 from the free throw line.

The Falcons begin MAC play next Saturday, and Donovan will continue to be a key component in their success.

Mid-American Conference Western Division Player of the Week
Brandy Woody, Ball State Cardinals (Guard, Senior)

Ball State won their second consecutive road game with an impressive 83-75 win at Indiana-Purdue-Fort Wayne last weekend, and senior Brandy Woody played perhaps her best game of the season in the effort. She scored 22 points in 30 minutes and had four assists and four rebounds, but it was what she did at the free throw line that was most important. Woody was a fantastic 13-for-14 from the free throw line and made eight consecutive free throws in the final few minutes of the victory to preserve the lead. Ball State had trailed 37-36 at halftime, then dominated much of the second half to take a 71-55 lead. However, the Cardinals almost gave it away, as a 14-2 run by IPFW cut the BSU lead to four. Woody's heroics at the charity stripe likely saved the game.

More efforts like that from Woody and her teammates will be crucial over the next two weeks. The Cardinals begin MAC play on Saturday with a trip to Akron and follow that by playing at Eastern Michigan. Then, Ball State hosts Bowling Green on their first homestand of the conference season.

Mid-American Conference Freshman of the Week
Nicole Anderson, Miami RedHawks (Forward)

In just two months, Anderson has already assumed a very important role in Miami's front court attack. She is the team leader and is among the MAC leaders in rebounding. She's also second in points per game and leads the RedHawks in free throw shooting. On Sunday, she was part of a balanced attack that helped Miami secure its fourth win of the season, a 91-80 decision over Cleveland State. The RedHawks' 91 points were 15 more than they had scored in any previous game this season. Anderson kept close to her season averages by scoring ten points and pulling down five rebounds. She made four of her seven field goals and was a perfect 2-for-2 at the free throw line.

Miami begins their MAC schedule with an excellent chance to get off on the right foot, and Anderson's contributions will be key to that effort. The RedHawks host Western Michigan on Saturday before playing at Ohio, so a 2-0 start is definitely possible.