Tall Fern Stella Beck is enjoying tremendous form with St Mary's University California Gaels this season.

The Gaels compete in the NCAA Division 1 West Coast Conference and is positioning itself for a major crack at the title when the Conference tournament gets underway early in March. With a 12 wins - 4 losses record the Gaels are currently third in WCC play and in good shape just 10 days away from the tournament.

Two weeks ago Beck posted a career high 27 points and last week fashioned another pair of sparkling performances.

The 180cm small forward produced a 20 points outburst, as Gonzaga was beaten 66-47, on Thursday. This was followed by a triple double-threatening 11 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists as Portland was demolished 95-53 on Saturday.


As a sophomore, in her second year at St Mary's, located in the Moraga Valley 20 miles east of San Francisco, the Hutt Valley High School alumni notices a couple of changes from her first season.

"The biggest differences are the expectation and confidence. I feel a lot more confident this year because I know the system and I am a lot more comfortable. Because of this, there is a lot more pressure and more expectation on me to perform and I am held to a higher standard."

That confidence and comfort as well as "Extra practice three times a week with one of my coaches" sees the twenty year old shooting a heady 57% from the field, the highest field goal shooting percentage in her Conference, "I had no idea I was the top field goal percentage shooter", said Beck.

There will be stiff competition for Tall Ferns places come June when the team departs for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Nantes but Beck is hoping her efforts on the international stage last year, when she was an ever present in the black singlet, will stand her in good stead with the international selectors.

"I am absolutely hoping to make Tall Ferns again. It is always an honour playing for your country and, although it isn't a focus right now, it will be my main focus after the college season. It would be an amazing experience to see France, and to play in Europe. I haven't done either before."

When asked what she misses most about New Zealand Beck replies, "Meat pies". With unfinished business in California and France on the horizon the modest 20-year-old may have to wait a while before enjoying the taste of her favourite Kiwi delicacy.