Monthly Archives: February 2020

It just keeps getting better for Yanni Wetzell

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Yanni Wetzell and the San Diego State Aztecs have clinched the Mountain West Conference regular season title with four games still to play.

The title success is on the back of a 14-0 record in conference play coupled with an unbeaten 25-0 record overall – the only unbeaten team in NCAA Division I Men’s basketball. Both streaks are school records.

The clincher was an 82-59 home win against New Mexico on Wednesday (NZT) with Wetzell contributing 20 points (7/9FG) and 9 rebounds.

“I think pretty early on I thought this team could be pretty special,” reflected Wetzell after receiving his championship medal.

After enduring a difficult 2018-19 season at Vanderbilt University Wetzell transferred to San Diego for his final season of college basketball. In complete contrast to his junior year at Vanderbilt, where the Commodores failed to win a single conference game, the opposite is true with San Diego who are yet to lose one.

“I got here in the summer with a bunch of guys and I knew we had great pieces from the get-go. I think it’s a credit to the recruitment and just the way, across the board, how deep we are,” said the former Westlake Boys High forward.

His 20 points equaled his career high for the third time this season – he has scored in double figures on 17 occasions in 25 games this season. Averaging 12 points per game he sits third on the Aztecs scoring list this season and with 6.5 boards leads the team’s rebounding statistical category.

This is the fourth outright regular season MWC title won by the Aztecs following successes in 2006, 2014 and 2016.

Ahead of them is the Mountain West Championships in early March followed by a trip to the Big Dance, the NCAA Championships.

Waardenburg and Le’afa close to career high’s

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Izayah Mauriohooho-Le’afa and Sam Waardenburg head the Lowdown Team Of The Week as they both came within a basket of making career best scores.

Cantabrian Jackson Stent makes the cut for the first time this season after a double figure outing for Houston Baptist.

 Izayah Mauriohooho-Le’afa, senior at Sacramento State University Hornets

Izayah Mauriohooho-Le’afa finished one point shy of his career high in making 22 points on 6 from 8 from the field including 5 from 6 from beyond the arc. The former Tall Black also had a couple of steals and 3 rebounds as the Hornets lost 70-66 at Weber State.

The Wellingtonian followed that with 11 points and 5 rebounds as Sacramento had a bounce back win against Idaho State two days later.

Sam Waardenburg, junior at University of Miami Hurricanes

Despite Sam Waardenburg equalling his career best with 15 points on a perfect 4 from 4 from the field and six out of six from the charity stripe Miami were defeated 99-81 at No 8 ranked Florida State in the ACC Conference..

Callum McRae, sophomore at University of California Riverside Highlanders

Callum McRae led the UC Riverside scoring with 10 points but the Highlanders were no match for Cal State Fullerton going down 61-48. The Manawatu big man filled the stats line with 5 rebounds a brace of blocked shots, 2 steals and an assist.

 

Jackson Stent, senior guard at Houston Baptist University Huskies

Starting just his second game of the season Jackson Stent scored 11 points (3/4 3PG) as Houston Baptist secured their third Southland Conference victory with a 79-76 win at Southeastern Louisiana.

The Cantabrian wing also matched his career high with 6 rebounds as well as snatching a steal.

Matt Freeman, senior forward at University of California Santa Barbara Gauchos

Having lost three straight games to finish January the Gauchos have now won three on the bounce to start February after a 64-61 victory against UC Irvine.

In the 76-66 win against Hawaii Matt Freeman posted 6 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists a block and a steal and followed that with 9 points against Irvine.

Bubbling Under

Dan Fotu scored 9 points (3/3FG) as St Mary’s Gaels got a 66-60 road win at San Diego. St Mary’s found #2 ranked Gonzaga too hot to handle on Sunday hammered 90-60 – 8 points in that one for the Tall Black

Tobias Cameron came off the bench to make 5 points and add 3 rebounds as Abilene Christian cruised to an 84-49 win against Lamar. Abilene moving nicely in the Southland Conference with an 8-4 record.

In a non-conference game South Dakota overwhelmed Peru State 106-45 with Kruz Perrott-Hunt making 5 points, 3 assists and a steal for the Coyotes.

Other News

Rotorua native Logan Elers, a senior at NCAA Division II South Dakota School of Mines, has been named the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Player of the Year.

A good week for Kiwi women playing NCAA Div I

McKenna Dale

Normally we name five players to the Lowdown Team of the Week but such was the quality of performances by New Zealand women over the past few days that a ten-player ‘roster’ is named in this selection.

For the second week running McKenna Dale earns top billing for an outstanding pair of performances in the Ivy League but there were plenty of other good performances to savour.

McKenna Dale, junior at Brown University Bears

McKenna Dale enjoyed an outstanding weekend for Brown University Bears. She posted a double-double of 26 points and 11 rebounds (it included her career best points haul) as Brown registered a first Ivy League win (in 5 attempts) with an 83-71 win at Dartmouth on Saturday.

Dale was huge again on Sunday with a game high 15 points but it wasn’t enough to prevent the Bears going down 68-53 at Harvard.

Akiene-Tera Reed, junior at Virginia Commonwealth University Rams

Akiene-Tera Reed scored a game high 17 points but it wasn’t enough to prevent VCU (8-2) falling to their second Atlantic 10 Conference defeat, 56-55 against George Washington.

Reed also came up with 5 rebounds and a season high (possibly career high) 7 assists.

Kendell Heremaia, junior at Fordham University Rams

In front of a sell-out crowd of 3,200 Fordham accounted for Rhode Island winning 60-50 with Kendell Heremaia notching 10 points, 8 rebounds and a couple of steals. She improved on that over the weekend claiming 17 points and 4 assists as Fordham forged a 69-64 road win at Massachusetts.

Fordham improve to 6-3 in Atlantic 10 play sitting third on the ladder.

Zara Jillings, junior at Fordham University Rams

Also from Fordham Zara Jillings was highly productive off the bench against Rhode Island scoring 7 points on a perfect 3 from 3 from the field whilst also adding 5 rebounds and a block in 20 minutes.

“We got great minutes from Zara,” said Coach Gaitley post game. Hopefully more minutes will ensue for the former Tall Fern.

Kayla Manuirirangi, senior at Tulane University Green Wave

It’s been a tough couple of games for Tulane. Having lost in overtime in their previous game the Green Wave were pipped 64-62 by Memphis.

Kayla Manuirirangi came up with 5 steals in the overtime loss and a further three against Memphis (plus 6 points and a couple of rebounds)

Tulane are now 3-6 in the American Athletic Conference.

Tsubasa Nisbett, sophomore at Georgia Southern University, Eagles

Playing 26 minutes as a starter Tsubasa Nisbett produced 8 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal but couldn’t prevent the Eagles having their wings clipped by Little Rock going down 65-49.

Charlotte Whittaker, freshman at University of Colorado Buffaloes

The Buffaloes went down 61-52 at Washington with Charlotte Whittaker making 11 points (4/8FG). The Cantabrian also claimed 3 rebounds, a block and a pair of steals – the Buffs now with a 3-9 Pac 12 Conference record.

Tegan Graham, senior at Colgate University Raiders

The Raiders improved to 8-3 in Patriot League play after a solid 65-53 win at Navy. Tegan Graham had 7 points, to go along with deuces in assists, steals and blocks.

Amiee Book, sophomore at California State University Fullerton Titans.

The Titans beat UC Riverside (71-61) with guard Amiee Book claiming 7 points, 4 rebounds (2 offensive) and singles in assists, steals and blocks with zero turnovers in 37 minutes of action. Fullerton are now 4-4 in the Big West Conference.

Shalae Salmon, senior at Brigham Young University Cougars

BYU went down 51-45 at San Diego and are now 8-4 in West Coast Conference play. Shalae Salmon came off the bench to post 6 points, 3 rebounds, a steal and a block.

Matt Freeman leads Team Of The Week

Freeman

Another week, another bunch of good performances from Kiwi men playing NCAA Division I basketball. The Team of the Week is led by Matt Freeman who enjoyed a career  night for the University of California Santa Barbara.

Matt Freeman, senior at UC Santa Barbara Gauchos

“I just did what I do in practice and hit open shots,” Matt Freeman said after his scintillating shooting in the Gauchos 87-62 win against Long Beach State. Freeman nailed 6 from 7 three-point shots on his way to a career best 24 points.

“It’s about sticking to it, not losing belief in each other, trusting each other. Like coach says, we have such a talented team, don’t lose it just because we lost a couple of games. We’ve got it all there.”

The Gauchos had lost four of its last five games but with two home games later this week will be hoping to improve their 3-4 record in Big West Conference play.

Yanni Wetzell, senior at San Diego State University Aztecs

On the night San Diego State retired Kawhi Leonard’s number 15 jersey the #4 ranked Aztecs took their unbeaten record to 23-0 with an 80-68 come from behind victory against Utah State.

Yanni Wetzell played his part in the celebratory night with a double-double of 11 points (4/8 FG, 2/2FT), 10 rebounds (six offensive boards), 2 steals and a block.

Izayah Mauriohooho-Le’afa, freshman at Sacramento State University Hornets

A team high 5 assists to go with 10 points and 3 rebounds from Izayah Le’afa was not enough to get the Hornets past conference leaders East Washington. Sacramento State are 4-6 in Big Sky Conference games.

Dan Fotu, sophomore at St Mary’s College, California

St Marys Gaels beat Portland 86-64 with Dan Fotu putting together a tidy 9 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists and a block for the Gaels. On the other side of the court Taki Fahrensohn had 7 points, 3 rebounds and an assist for Portland.

48 hours later St Mary’s were outscored 6-0 down the stretch at BYU losing 81-79. Fotu scored 10 points – the loss meaning the Gaels are 6-3 in the West Coast Conference.

Angus McWilliam, sophomore at University of California Riverside Highlanders

Angus McWilliam keeps getting it done for University of California Riverside. He was one rebound shy of a double-double  finishing with 11 points and 9 rebounds in the recent 77-69 home win against Long Beach State. He is second on the Riverside scoring and rebounding lists averaging 8.8 points and 6.0 rebounds per game.

Bubbling Under

 The other half of the Riverside “Mack Attack” Callum McRae finished with 6 points, 6 rebounds and a couple of steals in the Highlanders win against Long Beach State.

 Following his 7 points against St Mary’s Taki Fahrensohn went a point better with 8 in the Portland Pilots 85-61 loss to Santa Clara.

Miami University went down 62-57 at Pitt to slip to 3-8 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Sam Waardenburg finished with 5 points, 5 rebounds and a couple of assists.

Jackson Stent put the seal on Houston Baptist Huskies 82-77 win against Texas A&M-Corpus Christie. The Cantabrian blocked a shot and drew a charge with seven seconds to play and then converted one of two free-throws. It was just the second Southland Conference win for the Huskies.

Women’s Div I TOTW and All-Kiwi Div II match up.

McKenna Dale

After an ACL injury meant McKenna Dale missed all of last season she is certainly making her mark in the current campaign for Ivy League school Brown University. She is second on both the Bears scoring list (10.2ppg) and rebounding list (4.7rpg).

McKenna Dale, junior at Brown University Bears

McKenna Dale was massive for the Bears over the weekend but it couldn’t get then the win in either contest as they went down 74-63 at Cornell and 74-60 at Columbia. Her impressive stats lines read 15pts/6rebs/3a/2blocks/2steals against Cornell and 18pts/4rebs/3a/2blocks/2steals against Columbia.

She has scored in double figures on nine occasions this season and seven times in the last eight games.

Akiene-Tera Reed, junior at Virginia Commonwealth University Rams

Last March Fordham University claimed the Atlantic 10 Conference title with a 62-47 win against Virginia Commonwealth University in the championship game. That result meant joy for Fordham’s New Zealand duo of Kendell Heremaia and  Zara Jillings. In contrast it was disappointment for VCU’s Akiene-Tera Reed.

On Thursday (NZT) the two teams met again and on that occasion it was Reed who could afford the smile as her 19 points (5/10FG, 9/10FT), 7 rebounds and 5 assists helped propel VCU to a 62-52 home win.

It wasn’t such good news at the weekend as VCU (1-7) dropped its first conference game despite 18 points from Reed. They went down 79-76 to Duquenese.

Kendell Heremaia, junior at Fordham University Rams

Having come up short against VCU Fordham bounced back on Sunday (NZT) beating La Salle 62-45. 13 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, a block and a steal came off the Heremaia production line in that one. The Fordham co-captain leads the Atlantic 10 Conference in rebounds averaging 8.5 boards per game.

Kayla Manuirirangi, senior at Tulane University Green Wave

Kayla Manuirirangi came up with a fist full of steals despite Tulane University going down 66-60 on overtime to Houston in the American Athletic Conference. In addition to the five steals the Taranaki guard added 8 points and 4 assists.

Earlier in the week the Taranaki guard led Tulane with 18 points (4/6 3PG, 4/4FT) as Tulane had a 50-46 win against Tulsa.

Amiee Book, sophomore at California University Fullerton Titans

The CUF Titans ended a three-game losing streak beating Cal Poly 66-64 to move to .500 in Big West Conference play with a 3-3 record. Amiee Book came up big again for the Titans posting 14 points (5/9FG), 6 rebounds, an assist and a block.

Bubbling Under

Tegan Graham, senior at Colgate University Raiders

The Raiders beat Holy Cross 71-60 and are now 7-3 in Patriot League play. Tegan Graham produced 11 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, a steal and a block in a fine all-round display.

Charlotte Whittaker (10 points) was one of only two players in double figures as University of Colorado Buffaloes were beaten 79-52 by #10 Oregon State.

Another Cantabrian Tsubasa Nisbett had 6 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists as Georgia Southern went down to Appalachian State 83-75 in the Sun Belt Conference.

A shout-out this week for Tara Manumaleuga who is having to bide her time for opportunities for the highly ranked Wildcats. Ranked #16 in the country the Wildcats proved too good for #8 UCLA winning 92-68 with the former junior Tall Fern scoring 3 points as well as pulling down a pair of rebounds.

Kiwi v Kiwi

In an NCAA Division II match-up Otago’s Zoe Richards came up with 8 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and a block as Eckerd College proved too good for Barry University winning 74-57. Harbour forward Charlotte Armstrong put up similar numbers finishing with 8 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists and a block for Barry.

Eckerd are now 10-3 in Sunshine State Conference play – in contrast Barry are 3-10.

Tall Ferns to the fore as Melbourne Boomers finish WNBL regular season

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The Melbourne Boomers completed the Australian Women’s Basketball League (WNBL) regular season with a 104-75 demolition of Perth Lynx in Melbourne on Saturday night.

All four Tall Ferns in the Boomers line-up made a contribution as Melbourne dominated from start to finish.
Kalani Purcell was at her box score filling finest adding 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals to 17 points on 7 from 9 from the field – her highest points haul of the season.

Toni Farnworth contributed 4 points, 2 rebounds and 2 assists against her former club and Penina Davidson corralled 3 rebounds to go with 3 points.

Stella Beck has been a revelation starting in the point guard spot where she has had to take the place of the injured Lindsay Allen during the last month. Beck knocked down 3 from 5 from beyond the arc on her way to 11 points but it was her all-round game that impressed Boomers coach Guy Molloy.

“Stella has done an amazing job in Lindsay’s absence,” said Molloy.

“I think Stella probably feels great individually that she’s been able to step up so much and I know that the team has a lot of confidence in her,” he added.

Melbourne finished the season in third spot on the WNBL ladder with a 15-6 record, the same as Canberra Capitals who they will meet in the semi-finals.

That will be a best-of three series but will not take place until after the Australian Opals commitments at the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in France (February 7-10).