Category Archives: College Hoops

Salt, Freeman and Timmins dance into NCAA second round

Jack Salt (Virginia), Matt Freeman (Oklahoma) and Sam Timmins (Washington) were all in action on Saturday at the NCAA Tournament and all three progressed to the second round.

Early on in their clash with Gardner-Webb there was a sense of deja vu for Virginia University Cavaliers. Having exited in the first round last year when carrying the No 1 seed tag, they found themselves 14 points down to the Runnin’ Bulldogs (30-16).

However, the Cavs trimmed the deficit to six points by half-time and put the defensive clamps on Gardner-Webb in the second half to eventually claim a 71-56 victory. Against smaller opponents Salt was only required to play the opening five minutes.

The win means two Kiwis, in fact two former Westlake and Harbour representatives, will face each other in the second round on Monday as Virginia will face Matt Freeman and Oklahoma University Sooners.

The Sooners, with Freeman recording an assist, a steal and a block waltzed past Mississippi 95-72. The Sooners scored on eight of their first nine positions, led by 17 points at half-time and went on to post their highest score of the season.

Washington University Huskies made a successful return to the NCAA Tournament after eight years, beating Utah State 78-61. Sam Timmins played just a couple of minutes for the Huskies – the Pac-12 regular season champions will face highly fancied North Carolina on Monday.

The seven Kiwis in the Women’s NCAA Tournament play on Sunday

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

Men’s NCAA second round games to be played on Monday (NZT).

Monday March 25, 12.45pm; Oklahoma v Virginia

Monday March 25, 7.40am: Washington v North Carolina


Three Kiwi Men exit NCAA Tournament but Reed advances at WNIT


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

Matt Freeman and Tobias Cameron join growing Kiwi contingent at Big Dance

The good news keeps on coming for New Zealand Basketball with Tobias Cameron, the freshman guard at Abilene Christian University and Matt Freeman the junior forward at Oklahoma University becoming the latest Kiwis headed to the NCAA Tournament.

Tobias cameron

Cameron, son of FIBA Hall of Famer Pero Cameron, is in his first year at Abilene – a historic one for the Wildcats who have booked a ticket for the Big Dance for the first time with a 77-60 win in the Southland Conference Tournament Final. The Cats boast a 27-6 record this season but face a daunting prospect drawn against perennial powerhouse Kentucky in the first round.

Matt Freemanpg

Freeman and the Oklahoma Sooners didn’t qualify automatically but received an at-large berth and will face the University of Mississippi in the first round on Friday.

Dan Fotu and Quinn Clinton, members of the St Mary’s College California team are West Coast Conference champions progressing to the NCAA Tournament after ousting #1 ranked Gonzaga that boasted a 30-3 record.

In something of an upset Jack Salt and Virginia University Cavaliers were ousted 69-59 at the semi-final stage of the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament by Florida State.

A day earlier Jack had posted a career high 18 points (7/8FG, 4/5FT) as Virginia eliminated North Carolina State in the quarters. He also came up with 6 rebounds and a block.

Despite the defeat Virginia will still be headed to the NCAA Tournament as one of four top seeds on the back of an outstanding season accumulating 29 wins and just 3 defeats. Salt and the Cavaliers have progressed to the NCAA Tournament every year during his five seasons (one as a red shirt freshman) at Virginia.

There will also be major New Zealand involvement at the Women’s NCAA Tournament with a trio of Kiwis at both Fordham University and Brigham Young University (BYU) getting their dancing shoes dusted off.

BYU have three Kiwis in their lineup – juniors Shalae Salmon and Khaedin Taito plus redshirt freshman Kaylee Smiler.

The Fordham University trio of Mary Goulding, Kendell Heremaia and Zara Jillings were crowned Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament champions and also progress directly to the NCAA Women’s Division I Tournament.

What a day – Five more Kiwis heading to Big Dance


What a day for New Zealand Basketball.

What a day for our college basketball players in the States.

The West Coast Conference Tournament Finals produced a pair of upsets that meant double success for Kiwis with St Mary’s Gaels Men and Brigham Young University (BYU) Women both winning Conference Championships. –  the victories bring with it automatic entry to the Big Dance, the NCAA National Tournament.

St Mary’s caused a real upset.

After all its opponents Gonzaga had not only won every West Coast Conference game this season but were also the #1 ranked college team in the States boasting a 30-3 record. In regular season games Gonzaga had beaten St Mary’s in both previous meetings this season by a combined 62 points. Somehow the Gaels turned that around to post a remarkable result, a 60-47 victory. Dan Fotu, along with fellow Kiwi freshman Quinn Clinton can now prepare for the Big Dance.

BYU is the WCC champion riding an eight game winning streak to defeat Gonzaga 82-68 to capture their third WCC title since 2011. Like the men Gonzaga were the #1 ranked team in the conference but couldn’t hold off the second ranked BYU.

BYU have three Kiwis in their lineup – juniors Shalae Salmon and Khaedin Taito plus redshirt freshman Kaylee Smiler.

With the Fordham University trio of Mary Goulding, Kendell Heremaia and Zara Jillings crowned Atlantic 10 champions and Jack Salt and Virginia Cavaliers certain to be at the Big Dance it means nine Kiwis are looking forward to the madness that March brings.

Goulding, Heremaia and Jillings headed to the NCAA Tournament

Heremaia v reed

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

At least one Kiwi heading to the Big Dance

At least one Kiwi will be heading to the Big Dance later this month. Following Saturday’s semi-final victories, Fordham University and Virginia Commonwealth University will meet in the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament Final – the winners automatically booking themselves a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

In its semi-final Fordham Rams completely, overwhelmed Duquesne 76-34 to advance to its third ever Atlantic 10 Championship game.

Once again, the Kiwi trio of senior forward Mary Goulding alongside sophomores Kendell Heremaia and Zara Jillings were prominent.

Goulding, the leading rebounder for Fordham this season posted 19 points to go with 7 boards. Heremaia was also in double figures with 10 points and 5 rebounds whilst Jillings came up with 6 points and 3 rebounds.

Virginia Commonwealth was forced to work much harder to secure its place in a first ever Atlantic 10 Championship game having to come from behind to defeat Dayton 61-52.

Akiene-Tera Reed couldn’t reproduce her heroics from the day before when she scored 21 points in the quarter-final victory against St Joseph’s. However the sophomore swingman still produced 9 rebounds, 7 points and 3 assists in the win.

Fordham and VCU shared the Atlantic 10 regular season title with identical records and it is fitting that the two teams meet in the Championship game tomorrow.

The two teams met just once in regular season action with VCU prevailing 47-44 back in January. Expect the final to be just as close in the clash Monday morning (NZT).

Double celebration for Mary Goulding


Mary Goulding (34) with Coach Gaitley and fellow seniors

The accomplishments of Fordham University forward Mary Goulding in being named to the Atlantic 10 All-Conference First Team and also achieving All-Academic honours is worth celebrating.

It’s an enormous distinction to be recognized by the conference for your academic achievements or your playing prowess but to achieve in both areas is an outstanding accomplishment.

The former Rangiora High School standout attended Gillette College in Wyoming in her 2016-17 freshman season averaging 16.9 points and 10.6 rebounds per game before being recruited by Coach Stephanie Gaitley to the Fordham programme where she has excelled for the past three years.

“Mary has had a storybook senior year. Her game, her leadership, and her confidence has grown every day. She leads us in every category but scoring. In my opinion she is the most improved player in the conference,” said Gaitley.

The numbers Gaitley refers to make impressive reading. In her last season at Fordham Goulding is averaging 12.1 points per game and 8.4 rebounds, which ranks third in the conference. In addition, she has dished a team high 85 assists and pinched 34 steals.

Fordham closed out the regular season with a nine game winning streak during which time Goulding averaged 15.2 points and 10.1 points per game.

The Rams shared the A-10 regular season title with Akiene-Tera Reed’s Virginia Commonwealth University. They begin conference tournament play against #10 Massachusetts tomorrow.

In 2016 Goulding played for New Zealand Select against China B. It is to be seen if further national honours come the way of the Cantabrian when her college career ends but for now success at the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament, playing alongside fellow Kiwis Zara Jillings and Kendell Heremaia, is the priority.

Big performances from Tegan Graham

Tegan Graham

Tegan Graham had a massive week for Colgate University amassing 47 points over two games for the Raiders. She scored 23 points as the Raiders fell 80-67 after scoring a career high 24 in the win against Army West Point. The former Wellington College standout shot the ball at 58% (19/33) across the two fixtures including 8 from 12 threes.

In her third season at Colgate Graham is seven points shy of 200 points for the season and 4 points short of 400 career points. The Patriots will carry sixth seeding into the Patriot League play-offs next week.

Kayla Manuirirangi scored 9 points as Tulane University Green Wave lost its final regular season game, 80-65 against Cincinnati. The junior guard scored all her points from three-point land making 3 from 6. Tulane complete American Athletic Conference play with a 5-11 record and now head to the AAC Tournament later this week.

Individual honour for Matt Freeman, team title for Sam Timmins

Congratulations to Matt Freeman who was amongst a programme-record six members of the Oklahoma University Sooners men’s basketball team named to the 2019 Academic All-Big 12 First Team last Thursday. The Sooners’ academic accomplishment marks just the second time in league history that a school has had six men’s basketball players named to the Academic All-Big 12 First Team (Nebraska in 2004).

Impressively Freeman has earned Academic All-Big 12 honours for three consecutive seasons.

Sam Timmins scored 4 points and grabbed a couple of rebounds as the University of Washington Huskies overcame Stanford 62-61. The win secured the Pac-12 regular season title for the Huskies that boast a 14-2 record – well ahead of second placed Arizona State that are 11-6 with a couple of games to play this week.

The University of California Riverside, with Callum McRae outstanding, fell to a narrow loss going down 70-68 at Cal State Northridge. The freshman centre out of the Manawatu had another career night in points and rebounds. He led the Highlanders (3-11 in the Big West Conference) in scoring with 20 points (7/14FG, 6/6FT) and rebounds with 13. This was followed by another loss to UC Irvine (68-47) with McRae once again in double-double territory posting 11 points and 12 rebounds.

Also in good form was Izayah Le’afa who rattled in 35 points as Sacramento State Hornets had a win and a loss in the past week. The Hornets trumped Eastern Washington 59-56 with the former Hutt Valley guard scoring 17 points. A couple of days later he equalled his season best 18 points in a disappointing 94-90 loss at Idaho that had lost 14 games in a row.

Sacramento State are 7-11 in Big Sky Conference play with two regular season games remaining.

Former Westlake forward Yanni Wetzell top scored for Vanderbilt University Commodores with 15 points (5/10FG) in its 64-57 loss to Texas A&M. Unfortunately, Vanderbilt have lost all 16 of its Southeastern Conference games and has two regular games remaining to chalk up a victory.

Jackson Stent scored 10 points on 4 from 9 from the field, including 2 from 4 triples, but Houston Baptist Huskies were comfortably beaten 110-75 by Lamar University. The Huskies are 6-9 in the Southland Conference.I

Reed, Goulding, Heremaia and Jillings earn conference honours.


Four Kiwi women are on history making teams as Virginia Commonwealth University and Fordham University jointly claimed the Atlantic 10 Conference regular season title on Saturday. Both teams finished with an identical 13-3 record and, perhaps in another A-10 first, both carry the moniker of the ‘Rams’.

For the Rams of VCU, led by sophmore Akiene-Tera Reed, it is their best conference finish in history topping its second place in 2009.

Reed has led the VCU scoring this campaign, as she did last year, averaging 12.3 points per game. Once again on Saturday she led the Rams with 12 points as they won 61-54 against Davidson University.

Reed made 10 of her dozen points at the foul line where she shot 100% making all ten of her attempts in addition to making one from 3 from the field.

Reed has been terrific from the free throw line all season knocking down 102 from 124 attempts at 82.3%, testimony to her consistency at the line and ability to attack the rim.

It was also a first conference topping performance by the Rams from the Bronx as they came home on a wet sail winning nine games on the trot culminating with a 51-41 win at St Joseph’s University.

Senior forward Mary Goulding has been dynamic for Fordham all season sitting third on the A-10 rebounding list with 8.4 boards per game. The Cantabrian exceeded that output on Saturday claiming a game high 13 rebounds whilst also netting 16 points (7/10FG) – her ninth double-double of the season.

Waikato’s Kendell Heremaia accumulated 4 points, 3 rebounds, 2 steals and a pair of assists in 36 minutes whilst sixth-man Zara Jillings collected a free-throw and a rebound in 16 minutes of play.

There is not much time to celebrate as the 14 team Conference Tournament begins in Pittsburgh at Duquesne University on Tuesday.  Both teams have earned a bye in the first round, entering at the quarter-final stage next Thursday.

Can either team go on and claim the Atlantic 10 Tournament title and with it automatic entry to the NCAA Tournament? The Final is set down for Sunday March 10th– a Rams v Rams match up would be perfect.