It’s not every year three New Zealand women get to play in the premier American college basketball tournament, the NCAA Tournament. But this year three Kiwi’s from the same team will be in attendance – surely a New Zealand first.
There could only be one winner as the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament reached its climax with a Grand Final involving four Kiwis.
Unfortunately for Akiene-Tera Reed and Virginia Commonwealth University Rams it was Fordham University Rams that prevailed. Fordham won 62-47, its 12thstraight victory, to claim its second ever Atlantic 10 Conference Championship on Monday morning (NZ time).
Cantabrian Mary Goulding was again outstanding for Fordham scoring 19 points and adding 3 rebounds and a game high 4 steals. Goulding was rightly named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
Fordham shortened its rotation in the final only using six players but three were from New Zealand emphasising their value to the Rams programme. In addition to Goulding, Waikato’s Kendell Heremaia logged 38 minutes for 6 points and 4 rebounds whilst Commonwealth Games bronze medalist Zara Jillings was the only player used off the bench totaling 2 points (scoring with her only shot) and 2 rebounds.
Akiene-Tera Reed, VCU’s leading scorer this season (averaging 12.5 points per game), was well marshalled by the Fordham defence – the 2018 Tall Fern restricted to 4 points and 3 rebounds.
Fordham and VCU shared the Atlantic 10 regular season title with identical records and VCU won their regular season match-up but it was Fordham that won the game that mattered and finish conference play with a 13-3 record (25-8 overall).
Fordham are now headed for their third ever trip to the NCAA Tournament with the NCAA Selection Show and draw taking place on Monday March 18th.
VCU will head to the WNIT with its draw also out next Monday.
With Jack Salt certain to be headed to the Men’s NCAA Tournament at least four Kiwis will be involved in the 2019 Big Dance