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A Rochester showdown in Indiana, Ustby vs. Meister

Rochester will have two women represented in Thursday's big-time college basketball showdown between No. 6-ranked University of North Carolina and No. 5 Indiana University. Alyssa Ustby is a junior standout for North Carolina, while Lilly Meister is a freshman for Indiana.

Utsby,Alyssa.ap.625.jpg
Lourdes graduate Alyssa Ustby is a junior standout for the University of North Carolina. On Thursday night, Ustby's Tar Heels play Indiana University, which includes John Marshall graduate Lilly Meister, a Hoosiers freshman.
University of North Carolina / Contributed
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On Thursday (5 p.m., Big Ten Network), two of the three best girls basketball players to come out of Rochester since Mayo twins Coco and Kelly Miller, will go head to head on national television.

That comes with No. 6-ranked University of North Carolina (6-0) taking on No. 5 Indiana University (7-0) at Bloomington, Ind. Lourdes graduate Alyssa Ustby is a junior star forward for North Carolina, while John Marshall graduate and freshman forward Lilly Meister is already getting minutes for Indiana.

Here is a breakdown of Ustby and Meister, as well as their teams.

Alyssa Ustby, 6-1 junior forward: Ustby has turned into one of the top small forwards in the country. Last season, she started all 32 games for UNC and averaged 13 points and 9 rebounds per game, the latter good for fourth best in the ACC. Her 13 double-doubles were second in the ACC. This season, Ustby has been stellar all over again, averaging 16 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists per game. She’s shooting a blistering 55% from the field. Ustby has scored at least 15 points in all six of North Carolina’s games this season with a high of 19 against Jackson State. In the Tar Heels’ latest win over No. 8 Iowa State, Ustby scored 14 points (6-for-10 field-goal shooting), grabbed 9 rebounds and had 3 steals and 2 blocked shots.

At Lourdes, Ustby was a three-time All-State selection and the Post Bulletin’s All-Area Player of the Year as well as its Sports Person of the Year as a senior in 2020. She led the Eagles to the state basketball tournament that final season when they were ranked No. 1. The state tournament was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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North Carolina’s rise: The Tar Heels have made steady strides towards greatness since Courtney Banghart took over as coach beginning with the 2020-2021 season. Banghart, the Naismith National Coach of the Year in 2015 at Princeton, went 13-11 her first season at UNC, then 25-7 last year and is now 6-0 in 2022-23. North Carolina reached the NCAA Regional semifinals a year ago. ... The Tar Heels have a pair of stars in point guard Deja Kelly (18 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists per game) and Ustby. Both of them were named All-ACC last year. North Carolina’s most impressive win this season has come against No. 8 Iowa State, 73-64.

Lilly Meister
Lilly Meister on Friday, March 25, 2022, at John Marshall High School in Rochester.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin file photo

Lilly Meister, 6-3 freshman forward: Meister is averaging 6 minutes per game and has appeared in all seven of Indiana’s contests. Her playing time has been scant recently, with a combined 4 minutes in her last two games. Meister’s biggest totals came on Nov. 11 when she played 16 minutes in a 93-37 rout of University of Massachusetts-Lowell and scored 10 points, grabbed 4 rebounds and blocked 1 shot, hitting 4 of 6 field-goal tries and 2 of 3 free throws. On the season, Meister is averaging 3 points on 57% field-goal shooting as well as 1.3 rebounds.

At John Marshall, Meister was All-State her final two seasons and named the Post Bulletin’s All-Area Player of the Year last season when she averaged 22 points, 12 rebounds and 2 assists per game. She scored more than 2,000 points in her career as a Rocket, second all-time at the school. The only player to score more points than Meister at JM is Jamie Ruden, who went on to play at Arizona State University.

Indiana’s sweet success: The Hoosiers have turned into one of the country’s strongest women’s basketball programs. Indiana reached the NCAA Tournament Regional semifinals last year where it fell to No. 2 seed University of Connecticut. It finished 24-9, including 11-5 in the Big Ten Conference. This season, the Hoosiers’ closest game has come against Memphis, Indiana winning 79-64. ... Mackenzie Holmes, a 6-3 senior forward and a second-team All-Big Ten selection last year, leads Indiana in scoring at 20 points per game. Guard Sara Scalia, a transfer this year from the University of Minnesota, is tied for second in scoring with Yarden Garzon at 13 ppg. Three others average at least 10 ppg.

Inside The Numbers

USTBY

(Jr., UNC)

STAT

MEISTER

(Fr., Indiana)

Lourdes

High School

John Marshall

6-0

Record (team)

7-0

6

Ranking (team)

5

6

Games Played

7

15.5

Points/Gm.

3.0

55.4

FG %

57.1

52.9

FT %

71.4

8.3

Rebounds/Gm.

1.3

Pat has been a Post Bulletin sports reporter since 1994. He covers Rochester John Marshall football, as well as a variety of other southeastern Minnesota football teams. Among my other southeastern Minnesota high school beats are girls basketball, boys and girls tennis, boys and girls track and field, high school and American Legion baseball, volleyball, University of Minnesota sports (on occasion) and the Timberwolves (on occasion). Readers can reach Pat at 507-285-7723 or pruff@postbulletin.com.
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