The three Kiwi freshmen involved in the NCAA Men’s Division I Tournament on Friday (NZT) unfortunately bowed out in the first round. Their departures were not a surprise being matched up against higher ranked teams but the losses were in contrasting styles.
Tobias Cameron and Abilene Christian University Wildcats were mauled by perennial powerhouse Kentucky 77-49 bringing the Southland Conference champions season to a close.
Kentucky was making its 58thTournament appearance with ACU making its debut at the Big Dance – the gulf in experience and class was certainly evident.
St Mary’s College Gaels made a better fist of things. St Mary’s led 2018 champions Villanova at half-time (30-28) and stayed in touch throughout the contest but the West Coast Conference champions eventually fell 61-57. Quinn Clinton didn’t appear off the bench but Dan Fotu garnered a pair of rebounds in nine minutes of action for St Mary’s.
Saints wrap up their season with a 22-12 record, their 12thstraight 20-win season.
Jack Salt (Virginia), Matt Freeman (Oklahoma) and Sam Timmins (Washington) will all be in action on Saturday.
The seven Kiwi’s in the Women’s NCAA Tournament will play on Sunday – see schedule at foot of article.
The Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT), the second-tier tournament to the Big Dance is in full swing. Unfortunately, only one of three New Zealand women involved, all Tall Ferns, has progressed to the second round.
Fresno State Bulldogs, with forward Katelin Noyer in their lineup exited in the first round at the hands of Pacific University 77-72.
Noyer concluded her time at Fresno with 8 points in just 10 minutes on 4 from 5 shooting.
It’s been a frustrating time for the former Westlake Girls forward with a pre-season injury restricting her to just 10 games – all coming at the back end of the season.
Krystal Leger-Walker was one of three Northern Colorado Bears players in double figures but it wasn’t sufficient to prevent the Bears losing 68-60 to Wyoming. Leger-Walker finished the contest with 13 points, including three from four from beyond the arc, to go with 5 rebounds and 3 assists.
There was better news for Akiene-Tera Reed and Virginia Commonwealth University as the Rams defeated Charlotte 65-52. Reed poured in a game high 18 points on a very efficient 5 from 7 from the floor and 7 from 8 from the foul line. The Tall Ferns wing added 6 rebounds and 5 assists for good measure.
VCU will take on Virginia Tech in the second round on Monday.
NCAA First round games involving Kiwis still to be played over the weekend (NZT).
Saturday March 23, 5.40am; Oklahoma (Matt Freeman) v Mississippi
Saturday March 23, 8.10am; Virginia (Jack Salt) v Gardner-Webb
Saturday March 23, 11.50am; Washington (Sam Timmins) v Utah State
Sunday March 24, 6.00am; North Carolina State (Esra McGoldrick) v Maine
Sunday March 24, 6.00am; Fordham (Mary Goulding, Kendell Heremaia & Zara Jillings) v Syracuse
Sunday March 24, 8.30am; BYU (Shalae Salmon, Khaedin Taito & Kaylee Smiler) v Auburn