Category Archives: College Hoops

Jack Salt and Virginia make history

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Jack Salt and Virginia University Cavaliers have made history after advancing to the NCAA Championship game, defeating Auburn 63-62 in a dramatic semi-final.

Virginia have made the championship game for the first time and Salt has made a little bit of New Zealand sporting history for himself.

Salt had become only the second Kiwi after Kirk Penney (Wisconsin in 1999-2000 season) to play at the NCAA Men’s Division I Tournament Final Four but the victory means he now becomes the first New Zealander to play in a National Championship game (Tuesday 1.20pm NZT).

The Cavs had led by double figures late in the second half but needed three made free-throws from Kyle Guy with 0.6 of a second to play after the sophomore guard was fouled attempting a triple from the corner, to clinch the victory.

Auburn enjoyed a 14-0 run to lead 61-57 with 17 seconds to go. Guy hit an off balance three with 7.4 to play – Virginia fouled quickly to send Auburn to the line where it hit one from two to lead 62-60.

Following an Auburn foul the resulting in-bounds pass found Guy who launched the potential game winning three-point attempt. The shot hit the ring and bounced away but he was clearly fouled in attempting the shot and appeared to have ice in his veins as he sunk all three resulting freebies.

Salt had a relatively quiet afternoon pulling down a couple of rebounds in 9 minutes of action. That will matter little as he now prepares, with his teammates, for the biggest game in their relatively short careers, for many of the players the biggest game they will ever play in. Virginia will take on Texas Tech in the final after they beat Michigan State 61-51 in the other semi-final.

One incredible statistic for Kiwis to get their heads around was that the crowd at the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis was just under 72,000 – not bad for a game of college basketball. Expect there to be as many for the final on Tuesday.

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Salt and Virginia into NCAA Tournament Final Four but McGoldrick eliminated

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Kiwi interest at the sharp end of the NCAA Tournaments is down to one player after Sunday’s games at the Men’s and Women’s Tournaments. After beginning March Madness with 13 Kiwi representatives across the two tournaments Jack Salt is now the lone New Zealand flag bearer.

His Virginia University Cavaliers are Final Four bound for the first time since 1984 after overcoming Purdue 80-75 in overtime.

It was an enthralling contest with numerous twists and turns, Salt playing a significant part in the history making victory. He had 5 points (2/3FG) and 8 rebounds (5 offensive boards), and 2 steals in 34 minutes but those stats don’t tell the full story as the former Tall Blacks centre consistently freed up the Virginia shooters with bone rattling screens and secured extra possessions with his game high five offensive rebounds.

Purdue looked to be advancing in regulation time on the back of an amazing 42 points from point guard Carsen Edwards. Purdue led 70-67 with 17 seconds remaining and 70-68 with 7 seconds to go. A crucial offensive batted rebound from Virginia forward Mamadi Diakite and a score on the buzzer from the same player sent the game into overtime.

Virginia won the extra period 10-5 and will play their semi-final in Minneapolis next Saturday (Sunday NZT).

Salt is believed to be just the second Kiwi after Kirk Penney (Wisconsin in 1999-2000 season) to play at the NCAA Men’s Division I Tournament.

In contrast Esra McGoldrick and North Carolina State bowed out of the Women’s Tournament at the last 16 stage going down to Iowa 79-61. Freshman forward McGoldrick played just the final 60 seconds for the Wolfpack.

Salt and Virginia into the Elite Eight

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Virginia University Cavaliers have advance to the Elite Eight at the NCAA Tournament after a gritty 53-49 win against Oregon. Jack Salt only played for three minutes, grabbing a solitary rebound, as Virginia coach Tony Bennett stuck with his starters for most of the contest.

Salt and the Virginia team will make their first appearance in the last eight since 2016 – their seventh visit overall. Virginia will play Purdue in the NCAA South Regional final on Sunday.

Also playing on Sunday is our only Kiwi surviving at the Women’s Tournament. Cantabrian Esra McGoldrick and North Carolina State University are in the Sweet 16 where the Wolfpack take on Iowa.

McGoldrick is Sweet Sixteen bound at NCAA Tournament

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Brigham Young University lost to Stanford University in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Tuesday leaving Esra McGoldrick as the only Kiwi woman left competing at the Big Dance.

Cantabrian McGoldrick and North Carolina State University are headed to the Sweet 16 of the Women’s Tournament. The Wolfpack defeated Kentucky 72-57 on Tuesday to advance from the round of 32 for the second consecutive season.

NCSU shortened their rotation to basically six players although McGoldrick, the seventh and only other player used, was afforded a minute on court.

The Wolfpack now head to Greensboro to take on Iowa on Sunday (NZT) looking for a place in the quarter-finals.

Unfortunately they won’t be joined by BYU and its trio of Kiwis (Shalae Salmon, Khaedin Taito & Kaylee Smiler) as the Cougars, trailing by just two at half-time (31-29), lost 72-63 to Stanford.

Salmon grabbed a couple of rebounds and scored with her only shot as BYU finish the season with a 26-7 record and the consolation of the West Coast Conference title locked away in the trophy cabinet.

New Zealand representation is now down to two with Jack Salt (Virginia University Cavaliers) the only survivor at the Men’s Tournament.

The Cavaliers are also Sweet Sixteen bound and next play on Friday against Oregon.

Jack Salt and Virginia headed to Sweet Sixteen

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From the six Kiwi men that began the NCAA Tournament last week just one remains – Tall Blacks centre Jack Salt.

In the contest between the former Westlake Boys and North Harbour representatives it was Salt and the University of Virginia Cavaliers that advanced to the NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen at the expense of Matt Freeman and the University of Oklahoma Sooners on Monday.

The Cavs scored the first seven points of the second round game and were never headed, eventually prevailing 63-51. Matt Freeman knocked down a triple with his only scoring attempt for the Sooners but Virginia captain Salt was only required for two minutes off the bench – only the fourth game he hasn’t started this season and the least amount of court time he has played in the entire campaign.

Virginia next play on Friday against Oregon in the round of sixteen.

Earlier in the day the University of Washington Huskies fell 81-59 to North Carolina, the #1 seeds in the Midwest quarter of the bracket.

Sam Timmins came off the bench to score with his only field goal attempt and also snared a couple of rebounds for the Huskies. Washington, the Pac-12 regular season champions, finish the season with a 27-9 record.

The former Otago Boys High and Middleton Grange standout played 33 games for the Huskies this season, starting on 7 occasions. He has totaled 98 appearances in his three seasons at Washington.

At the Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT) Virginia Commonwealth Rams fell 82-72 to Virginia Tech in the second round.

Once again Akiene-Tera Reed led the Rams scoring accumulating 17 points, on 6 from 10 shooting, to go with 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals.

VCU, the Atlantic 10 Conference regular season joint champions, finish the season with a 24-10 record.

It’s the turn of the women at the NCAA Tournament tomorrow with four New Zealand players looking to progress beyond the second round.

Women’s NCAA Tournament second round

Tuesday March 26, 4.00pm; North Carolina State (Esra McGoldrick) v Kentucky

Tuesday March 26, Noon; BYU (Shalae Salmon, Khaedin Taito & Kaylee Smiler) v Stanford

BYU and North Carolina State advance at Women’s NCAA Tournament

At the Women’s NCAA Division I Tournament on Sunday (NZT) there were first round wins for Brigham Young University (BYU) and North Carolina State but the other team with Kiwi interest, Fordham University were defeated.

BYU Cougars won the battle of the big cats holding off a determined Auburn Tigers to win 73-64. Shalae Salmon was the only one of the three New Zealanders on the BYU roster to take the court – the Wellingtonian contributing a valuable 5 points (2/2FG) and 6 rebounds in 14 minutes.

BYU, on a nine game winning streak, will next face Stanford on Tuesday.

North Carolina State and Esra McGoldrick also advanced. The Wolfpack won its first round tie against Maine 63-51. Cantabrian forward McGoldrick entered the fray in the final minute.

10thranked North Carolina State will face 17thranked Kentucky in the round of 32 on Tuesday.

Unfortunately, Fordham University Rams with its trio of Kiwis couldn’t make it a perfect day for the Kiwis. The Rams saw its season end at Syracuse, beaten decisively 70-49.

Mary Goulding brought the curtain down on her career at Fordham with 8 points, 10 rebounds and 3 assists in 39 minutes. Kendell Heremaia had 6 points and 5 rebounds whilst Zara Jillings chipped in with a couple of assists and a rebound.

The Rams finish the year with a 25-9 overall record, tied for the third-most victories in school history and capped with their second ever Atlantic 10 championship.

In other news Hutchinson Community College, with former Westlake Girls forward Keeley Tini in its lineup, went down 60-54 to New Mexico College in the semi-final of the NJCAA (Junior College) National Tournament. Hutchinson were attempting to make it to is fourth National Tournament Final.

There will be at least one Kiwi in the last 16 at the Men’s NCAA Tournament with Matt Freeman and the Oklahoma Sooners taking on Jack Salt and Virginia University in the round of 32 on Monday.

Games involving Kiwis coming up:

Men’s NCAA second round (NZT):

Monday March 25, 12.45pm; Oklahoma (Matt Freeman) v Virginia (Jack Salt)

Monday March 25, 7.40am; Washington (Sam Timmins) v North Carolina

Women’s National Invitation Tournament second round:

Monday March 25, 7.00am; Virginia Commonwealth (Akiene-Tera Reed) v Virginia Tech

Women’s NCAA second round:

Tuesday March 26, 4.00pm; North Carolina State (Esra McGoldrick) v Kentucky

Tuesday March 26, Noon; BYU (Shalae Salmon, Khaedin Taito & Kaylee Smiler) v Stanford

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

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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).

Men

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

Women

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.

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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.

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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.

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