The biggest news in our weekly look at Kiwis in American college hoops is that Jack Salt has helped take Virginia Cavaliers to the Number 1 ranking in men’s basketball. The achievement comes despite Virginia slipping to their first Atlantic Coast Conference loss of the season when they went down in overtime 61-60 to Virginia Tech at the weekend. It’s the first time Virginia have been ranked No 1 since 1982
Tai Wynyard and Kentucky were No 1 in November 2016 but this is probably the first time a Kiwi has been a starter in a top ranked team.
Two other regular starters are Sam Timmins and Izayah Le’afa.
Le’afa dished a game high 5 assists and also scored 11 points (3/7 3PG) but Sacramento State Hornets slid to a third straight loss going down 92-76 at Montana State. The Hornets are 3-8 in Big Sky Conference play.
Timmins scored 4 points (2/2FG) and snared 4 rebounds but Washington Huskies lost a thriller in double overtime (97-94) to Oregon State. The Huskies are now 7-5 in the Pac 12 Conference.
There were also some very good performances amongst our top women.
St Mary’s Gaels made a major statement in the West Coast Conference. Not only did they defeat unbeaten Gonzaga 72-56 but also they achieved the victory at Gonzaga. Stella Beck was a major player in the game adding 13 points and 5 rebounds to a game high 9 assists as the Gaels moved to 9-5 in conference games.
Jacinta Beckley was within three points of a career best as she amassed 23 points (7/13FG, 8/8FT) as Seattle Redhawks beat Chicago State 72-60. With its 7-2 record Seattle are now second on the Western Athletic Conference ladder.
Brooke Blair bounced back in style from a poor midweek showing against Northern Colorado when she failed to score for the first time this season. Against North Dakota she rattled off a team high 19 points (6/11FG) for Idaho State Bengals as they won 68-55 to improve to 7-5 in the Big Sky Conference. The 19 points tally moved Blair past 300 points for the season at an average of 13.6ppg.
Despite a fine shooting performance from Tessa Boagni Cal State Northridge Matadors lost 59-51 at home to Long Beach State. Boagni scored a team high 19 points on the back of 7 from 10 from the field including 4 from 5 from distance. The Cantabrian also added 6 rebounds and 2 blocks. The Matadors are 6-5 in the Big West Conference after slipping to a second loss of the week going down 72-46 to UC Davis – 7 points and 7 rebounds for Boagni in that one.
Penina Davidson was one rebound shy of a double-double as Cal Berkeley Bears edged a thriller against Colorado winning 78-76. Davidson scored 10 points (4/9FG) and corralled nine rebounds, which included 5 offensive boards. She followed that with team high’s in rebounds (7) and blocks (3) as the Bears improved to 8-6 in Pac 12 Conference contests with an 84-73 win against Utah on Sunday.
Mary Goulding managed 10 points and 4 rebounds as Fordham Rams moved their Atlantic 10 Conference record to 10-2 with a 58-45 record against Davidson.
Also in the Atlantic 10 Tera Reed, who has been outstanding all season for Virginia Commonwealth University Rams, posted 27 points on 11 from 18 (61%) shooting against Duquesne – but it wasn’t enough with the Rams falling 80-71.
The Rams bounced back on Sunday outlasting St Bonaventure 77-75 in overtime and improving to 3-9 in the Atlantic 10 Conference. Reed filled the stats line with 6 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals in the win.
Krystal Leger-Walker recorded her first double-double (13 points, 11 rebounds) to help Northern Colorado Bears move to 10-3 in Big Sky Conference play with a narrow 71-69 overtime win against Weber State. The scores were locked at 60 points apiece after fourty minutes, the Bears securing the win courtesy of a triple with just 0.4 seconds left on the clock. Earlier Leger-Walker had tied the game in regulation with her third triple of the game.
Fresno State Bulldogs are now 9-4 in the Mountain West Conference after a 66-60 win at San Diego State. Katelin Noyer pulled down 5 boards to go with 7 points (3/5FG) for the Dogs. Fresno State head coach Jaime White was pleased with the efforts of the former Westlake centre, “I thought she had a good matchup tonight, she came in with poise and finished some shots.”