Author Archives: laceylowdown

Penina Davidson and Adelaide Lightning headed to WNBL Grand Final decider


The Australian Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) Grand Final Series is headed to a deciding game in Canberra on Saturday evening after a pulsating second game was won by Adelaide Lightning last night.

Canberra had comfortably won the opening game 88-67 on its home court but the Lightning bounced back in stirring fashion closing out a nail-biter 74-73. Nicole Seekamp scored with a buzzer beater in front of 3,700 ecstatic fans at the Titanium Security Arena in Adelaide to force a deciding game in the best-of-three series.

Tall Fern Penina Davidson, in her first season as a professional since graduating from the University of California Berkeley in 2018, produced a nice cameo off the bench posting 4 points, 4 rebounds, 2 steals and a block.

The winning basket wasn’t without controversy as the referees missed a clear double dribble as the ball was dribbled up court and there was grave doubt as to whether Seekamp got off her winning shot before the final siren sounded.

Earlier Canberra had forged a 44-37 half-time advantage although that lead has virtually evaporated by three-quarter time with Adelaide trailing by just one point (56-55). Even though Canberra led for the majority of the final period Adelaide were never more than two possessions in arrears and timed their final run to perfection.

Adelaide Head Coach and former Tall Ferns assistant Chris Lucas described the game as “An amazing game of women’s basketball. I thought it was just fantastic, it had everything.”

Whatever the outcome on Saturday Davidson has relished her rookie season in Adelaide.

“Making the Grand Final has definitely been a highlight and I couldn’t have asked for much more from my first professional contract,” she said.


Nicholls career high the pick of the college performances this week

Michelle Nicholls

A career high in points (23) and assists (7) from Michelle Nicholls propelled La Salle University Explorers to a 77-71 win against Rhode Island – it’s first Atlantic-10 Conference win of the season.

Her 23 points, on 7 from 11 shooting, are the most points scored by an Explorer this season and helped end a run of eleven straight losses dating back to mid-December.

At the other end of the A-10 Conference table Virginia Commonwealth University Rams moved to 10-1, its best conference start in programme history. Akiene-Tera Reed’s 9 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists helped VCU to a 58-37 win against Richmond.

Also chugging along nicely in the A-10 behind VCU are Fordham University – four straight wins moves them to 8-3 in conference play. Its latest successes were home wins against George Mason and St Louis with Mary Goulding and Kendell Heremaia prominent.

Goulding put together a destructive 12 points and 13 rebounds – her sixth double-double of the season against St Louis and followed that with a career high 19 points against George Mason. Kendell Heremaia totaled 13 points, 11 rebounds, 5 steals, 3 assists and a block across the two fixtures.

Amiee Book was another in double-double mode – the freshman guard added a career high 11 rebounds to 10 points for Cal State Fullerton Titans. It was Book’s first double-double in college basketball but unfortunately the Titans were trumped 62-59 on the road by UC Riverside.

Book followed that with 13 points, 5 rebounds, an assist, a steal and a block against UC Irvine but the Titans were outscored 23-7 in the final quarter eventually going down 65-61. Three losses on the bounce for the Titans (3-6 in the Big West Conference) in February but all by single figure margins.

Kayla Mauirirangi dropped 11 points for Tulane University but the Green Wave suffered a third straight loss, rolled 72-67 by Tulsa. Tulane have a 4-6 record in the American Athletic Conference.

There was little in the way of startling numbers from the Kiwi men playing Division I hoops this week.

The short-handed University of Miami Hurricanes snapped a five game losing streak beating Notre Dame 62-47. They came close to making it two wins on the bounce but fell 88-85 in overtime to No 8 ranked North Carolina with Sam Waardenburg scoring 8 points on 3 from 3 shooting – landing both efforts from beyond the arc.

In a high octane encounter between the number two and three ranked NCAA Division I college teams it was Duke University that prevailed beating Virginia University Cavaliers 81-71. Jack Salt produced 6 points and two’s in rebounds, assists and steals as Virginia slip to 8-2 in the Atlantic Coast Conference (20-2 overall).

Another starting centre with 6 points was Callum McRae. The former Palmerston North Boys High big man also added 4 rebounds as University of California Riverside lost 77-54 at home to UC Santa Barbara.

Also on the losing side was Izayah Le’afa as Sacramento State Hornets were stung 65-59 at Northern Colorado. Le’afa collected 5 points, 5 rebounds and 3 steals as the Hornets fall to 1-5 against Big Sky Conference opponents.

Sam Timmins scored with his only two shots but Washington University Huskies lost its unbeaten Pac 12 Conference record after a 75-63 loss at Arizona State and Yanni Wetzel also scored 4 points as Vanderbilt University, still looking for its first Southeastern Conference win, lost 77-67 at Alabama.

WBC defending champions snare Hayley Gray

HG 2

Hayley Gray in Canterbury colours – photo courtesy of Richard Connelly

The Otago Gold Rush are thrilled to announce that former Canterbury Wildcats captain Hayley Gray will be joining the Otago Gold Rush for their Women’s Basketball Championship title defense in 2019.

Basketball Otago General Manager Justin Ludlow says Gray has been an instrumental figure in Canterbury women’s basketball since her debut with the Wildcats at the age of sixteen.

“She played an important role in the Wildcats back to back championship wins in 2016 and 2017, and she captained the team during that time.

“Head coach Greg Brockbank and I met with Hayley recently, and we were just thrilled with her attitude and determination for the game which will be a great asset for us in 2019. She wants to see more females playing basketball at all ages and wants to play a part in that in our region which is fantastic.

“She is still passionate about the game and giving back to the next generation of young female basketballers who aspire to have the opportunities which she has had within the game, and which are still a key component of her desire to remain involved at the highest level. She is excited that she will be able to continue this with the Otago Gold Rush as they look to defend their title won in 2018,” says Ludlow.

“I am really excited to be getting back out on the court again this year, especially with the defending champions. It is always challenging moving cities and teams, but the Otago Gold Rush have been very welcoming and supportive, and I cannot wait to hit the floor running in this year’s WBC. I imagine it will be a tight race to the title as the WBC continues to grow in strength, but I am confident the silverware won’t be moving from the South,” says Gray.

An ACL injury hampered Gray’s 2018 commitments with the North Canterbury Spirit in the WBC’s second division. Gray used this time to give back as a coaching assistant in what proved to be a third championship in three years with the Spirit crowned second division champions during the finals in Dunedin.

The experienced guard has recently relocated to Queenstown with her partner to establish and operate the Black & White Coffee Cartel café in Frankton and believes her experience and leadership qualities will add value to the Gold Rush during the 2019 season.

The Otago Gold Rush begin their WBC campaign against the Auckland Dream on Friday 10 May in Christchurch.

Plenty of success for Kiwi women in college hoops in the last few days

Tegan Graham

Tegan Graham

Wellingtonian guard Tegan Graham was one point shy of equalling her career best, scoring 17 points (7/14FG, 3/5 3PG), as she paced Colgate University Raiders to a 70-58 victory over Army at West Point. Graham was in fine form adding a trio of steals and assists plus a block. The Raiders are 4-4 in the Patriot League.

Akiene-Tera Reed scored a game high 18 points (5/11FG, 7/8FT) as Virginia Commonwealth Rams comfortably accounted for St Joseph’s 65-47. She also added 4 rebounds at VCU moved to 8-1 at the head of the Atlantic 10 Conference.

Kendell Heremaia dropped a career high 4 triples (made from 9 attempts) on her way to 14 points and 6 rebounds as Fordham University Rams improved to 6-3 in the Atlantic 10 Conference, fourth on the table behind VCU, with a 57-46 win against Duquesne. Mary Goulding filled the stats line with 12 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists and a steal.

Shalae Salmon scored 13 points (6/12FG) but BYU, after starting West Coast Conference play with nine straight wins, slipped to a 79-65 defeat at Pepperdine. The starting centre also garnered 6 rebounds.

Amiee Book made her third start of the season for Cal State Fullerton Titans in their 59-53 loss to Log Beach State. The former Canterbury Wildcat scored 12 points (4/10FG), 4 rebounds and 2 assists – her 12thdouble digit return of the season. The Titans slip to 3-4 in the Big West Conference.

It seems a common theme when talking about Krystal Leger-Walker as she once again stuffed the stats sheet as Northern Colorado Bears won 84-73 at Idaho State. The Waikato guard finished with 10 points, 8 assists, 4 rebounds and 3 steals as the Bears moved to 9-2 in the Big Sky Conference.

Former Palmerston North Girls High forward Amy West scored a season best 6 points plus 4 rebounds as Liberty University Flames put the Lipscomb fire out winning 77-60. The Flames are 4-3 in the ASUN Conference.

Katelin Noyer has returned to action for Fresno State after undergoing foot surgery prior to the start of the season. She played 4 minutes for the Bulldogs against Wyoming in her comeback game and was then given a start at New Mexico where the Bulldogs went down 82-73. In front of 6,000 fans Noyer scored a couple of points and secured a pair of rebounds in 16 minutes as Fresno State slip to 6-3 in the Mountain West Conference.

Mate v Mate, Kiwi v Kiwi, Waardenburg v Salt

Sam W

Two North Shore boys Sam Waardenburg and Jack Salt squared off at the Paul Jones Arena, home of the University of Virginia Cavaliers, on Sunday (NZ Time).

It was Salt and the Cavaliers that eventually prevailed 56-46 but the University of Miami Hurricanes were far from blown away by their Atlantic Coast Conference rivals in a low scoring encounter.

Former Rangitoto College standout Waardenburg (10 points) reached double figures for the fifth time this season on 4 from 9 shooting. In 36 minutes of action, the most minutes he has played in a conference game, the sophomore forward also added 3 rebounds a steal and a block.

Salt, in his final year at the No 3 ranked Virginia, was his usual rock solid self on defense picking up a season high 9 rebounds to accompany 7 points (3/5FG).

Next up for Virginia (8-1 in conference play and 20-1 overall) is the mouth-watering prospect of entertaining Duke ranked No 1 or No 2 depending on which polls you view. Duke prevailed 72-70 when the teams last met – the game is scheduled for next Sunday (NZT).

Jack Salt

In other news former Palmerston North Boys High standout Callum McRae was one of few bright lights for University of California Riverside as they were smacked 71-45 by Cal Poly. The freshman centre had 10 points, 5 rebounds and 2 blocks, recording his fifth consecutive game in double figures.

Sacramento State Hornets are 6-4 in the Big Sky Conference after a convincing 74-58 win at Idaho State. Izayah Le’afa led the Hornets scoring effort with a season high 16 points on 6 from 10 shooting including 4 from 7 from beyond the arc.

Another former Tall Black Sam Timmins produced 9 points (3/5FG), 6 rebounds and 3 blocks as the University of Washington Huskies (9-0) remain unbeaten in the Pac 12 Conference after a 69-55 home victory against UCLA.

Penina Davidson and Adelaide Lightning bolt into WNBL Final


And then there was one!

This time last week Tall Ferns Toni Farnworth (Perth Lynx), Kalani Purcell (Melbourne Boomers) and Penina Davidson (Adelaide Lightning) were all vying for a shot at the Australian Women’s National Basketball League title.

Now there is just one New Zealand representative chasing Australia’s prime domestic honour after Perth and Melbourne were swept 2-0 in their respective best-of-three semi-finals series.

Having lost 95-76 against regular season champions Canberra Capitals last weekend Perth put up a stronger showing at home on Thursday night. However, the basketball gods were not doing them any favours as two of the Lynx starters, Kayla Steindl and Asia Taylor, played limited minutes due to injury. Toni Farnworth (4 points and 2 rebounds) and her teammates battled bravely but eventually went down 91-75 – eliminated in the semis for the second successive season.

If that result was somewhat predictable the elimination of the Melbourne Boomers, coached by Tall Ferns mentor Guy Molloy, was perhaps more of a surprise.

After starting the season 3-6 Adelaide won all but two of its remaining 13 fixtures although they had lost all three regular season games against Melbourne. However, carrying the confidence of wining seven of its last eight games into the semi-final series, Adelaide pinched an important road win (76-60) last weekend. They completed the job at home on Thursday winning a high quality encounter 100-96.

Davidson, in here rookie pro season, played just three minutes in game two but had been a key spark off the bench in the first encounter scoring 8 points (4/7FG) whilst also securing a couple of rebounds.

Kalani Purcell was her usual industrious self for Melbourne totaling 15 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists and a couple of blocks over the two games but her efforts, and those of her teammates, were not quite enough against an inspired Lightning.

The Lightning return to the finals for the first time since 2008 and we will be following the fortunes of Davidson, the Tall Ferns and former Cal Berkeley forward, closely.

The finals will also be a best-of-three series beginning in Canberra on February 9th.

Leger-Walker top 20 in assists plus other fine efforts in Div I Women’s Basketball



Krystal Leger Walker

The three Kiwis at Fordham University all played a part as the Rams went 1-1 last week (4-3 in the Atlantic 10 Conference). Kendell Heremaia was close to a double-double in the 56-38 win against Rhode Island, she had 10 points, 9 boards and added 4 steals for good measure – Mary Goulding chipped in with 7 points and 6 rebounds.

On Sunday Fordham were beaten 60-56 by Davidson University despite a mercurial effort from Goulding who hauled in 15 rebounds to accompany 16 points – a game high in both categories.

Zara Jillings went quietly about her work with 10 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists across the two games.

Also, in Atlantic-10 action Michelle Nicholls had 10 points and 5 rebounds but La Salle University suffered a narrow 66-62 loss to Duquesne.

The third women’s team with Kiwi representation in the Atlantic-10 are top of the table Virginia Commonwealth (6-1) who produced almost identical score lines for a win against St Louis (57-47) and a loss at George Washington (57-48). Akiene-Tera Reed had 7 points, 4 rebounds, 3 dimes and 3 steals in the defeat but didn’t play in the win against St Louis due to injury.

Krystal Leger-Walker was her usual busy self as Northern Colorado Bears recorded wins against Southern Utah (71-44) and Northern Arizona (63-53). Across the two games L-W totalled 18 points, 14 rebounds and a team high 14 assists – she leads the Big Sky Conference with 109 dimes at 5.7 per game and is top-20 in all Division I basketball. The Bears are top of the conference table with an 8-2 record.

BYU stretched its winning run to 11 games (9 in conference games) with a 65-56 defeat of San Diego. Starting centre Shalae Salmon produced 8 points, 6 rebounds and a block for the Cougars.


Joellen How

Taranaki guard Joellen How scored a career high 11 points but it wasn’t enough to prevent Wagner College Seahawks going down 69-46 to Robert Morris University. The Seahawks are 3-4 in Northeast conference play.

Tegan Graham scored 10 points and dished a season equaling high 4 assists but Colgate University fell 86-58 to Lehigh. The Raiders are 4-4 in the Patriot League.

Amiee Book pulled down a career high 8 rebounds but Cal State Fullerton were humbled 75-39 by UC Davis and slip to 3-2 in Big West Conference play.

Double figure efforts from Waardenburg, McRae and Fotu

Sam Waardenburg

Sam Waardenburg scored an Atlantic Coast Conference career best 13 points but the University of Miami went down 78-66 against No 23 Florida State on Sunday. Sam was perfect from the floor making all four of his shots including two from beyond the arc. The Hurricanes slip to 1-6 in conference games.

Freshman Callum McRae recorded the first double-double of his college career posting 10 points and 10 rebounds as UC Riverside lost 82-64 at UC Irvine. The Highlanders are 2-4 in the Big West Conference.

St Mary’s Gaels had a couple of tough road losses going down 71-66 at BYU and 84-77 in overtime at Pepperdine. Dan Fotu had 10 points and 6 rebounds against BYU making a couple of triples in the process.

University of Washington Huskies are travelling well in the Pac-12 Conference, the Huskies unbeaten in seven games after road wins against Oregon (61-56) and Oregon State 79-69. Sam Timmins had 7 points in the first game and 2 points, 6 rebounds and 3 blocks against Oregon State.

Jack Salt claimed a team high 8 boards to accompany 7 points (3/5FG) as No 3 Virginia eased past Wake Forest 68-45 in the Atlantic Coast Conference and then accounted for the Fighting Irish at Notre Dame 82-55.

More accolades for Micaela Cocks

micaela cocks copy

Micaela Cocks, who became just the second player behind Rachael McCully to chalk up 200 games for the Townsville Fire, won the Players’ Player award for a record-breaking fourth time at the Fire’s Awards evening at the weekend.

Cocks went back-to-back in 2011/12 and 2012/13 and has now repeated the accomplishment after winning the award in 2017/18.

Remarkably, the Players’ Player is the eighth club award the New Zealand Olympian has won during her time at the Fire.

Cock’s received a further accolade on the night as she, alongside Mia Murray and Suzy Batkovic was awarded a life membership.

After missing the finals for the first time in eight seasons, the Fire will look to bounce back in the 2019/20 Australian WNBL season with a new-look squad following Suzy Batkovic’s retirement with Cock’s and fellow Kiwi Stella Beck almost certain to be part of that line-up.

Career high’s for Book, Reed and Nicholls plus milestone for Leger-Walker

aimee book

A 12-day break in the Cal State University Fullerton programme didn’t harm Amiee Book’s fine freshman form as she posted a career high 18 points in the 75-51 loss at UC Davis and followed that with 15 points in the 78-64 victory against Cal Poly.

The former Tasman and Canterbury representative went 12 from 19 from the field across the two games including 6 from 9 (67%) from beyond the arc. Amiee is shooting a highly impressive 50% (29/58) from three-point land overall this season. CSUF are 2-1 early in their Big West Conference programme.

With 2 assists in the 60-56 win against Idaho State Krystal Leger-Walker moved into the top five in Northern Colorado Bears programme history. She has 325 career assist to her name and as we are only just over half-way through L-W’s junior season that total is likely to be extended considerably.

Krystal added 11 points as the Bears moved to second place on the Big Sky Conference ladder.

A fine all-court game from Michelle Nicholls didn’t prevent La Salle University Explorers from slipping to a fifth straight Atlantic-10 defeat going down 60-57 against St Joseph’s. Nicholls had a career high 3 blocks plus 6 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals.

Still in the Atlantic-10 it’s a different story for Akiene-Tera Reed and Virginia Commonwealth. The Rams extended their winning run to seven games, the last five all conference games, after slamming Rhode Island 74-39. Reed tied a career high four three-pointers as she scored a team high 16 points along with 5 rebounds. Reid has scored double figures in seven of the last eight games for the Rams.

Also unbeaten in conference play are BYU as they registered an eighth victory on the bounce in West Coast Conference play coming back from a 16 points deficit to beat Portland 79-71. Shalae Salmon (2 points) was active at the defensive end executing 3 blocks in addition to grabbing 3 rebounds.

After a 3-0 start in conference fixtures Fordham University Rams have suffered two straight losses. The latest defeat was a 72-50 mauling at Dayton where Kendell Heremaia posted 9 points and 4 rebounds and Mary Goulding came up with 6 boards, 2 steals and 7 points.