Category Archives: College Hoops

Half Term Report Part 2 – The King and Queen of the Boards

December 29

It won’t come as a surprise to those that follow the fortunes of the New Zealander’s playing college hoops to find that Callum McRae leads the rebounding count – the former Junior Tall Black is close to averaging a double-double with his 9.5 boards per game to go with his 11.5 points.

Enda Brennan, one of four Kiwis at Southeast Community College, has made a big impression in the first few weeks of his college career. The , out of Riccarton High School, is second on the list and is also the only freshman amongst the top 17 players.

Aniwaniwa Tait-Jones not only leads the men’s scoring list (remember he averages 17.8 points per game) but is also the third highest rebounder claiming 9.1 boards per outing to emphasise his all-round ability.

Another Wellingtonian Isaac Miller-Jose has played his collegiate basketball at Manitoba University in Canada and is enjoying another fine season with the Bisons. 

Yet another Wellingtonian, Sam Gold, leads the way amongst a strong contingent of players featuring in the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) conferences.

Leading Rebounders – MenClassUniversity/CollegeLevelRPGRebs
Callum McRaeSeniorSacramento StateNCAA D19.5114
Enda BrennanFreshmanSoutheast CCJUCO9.3130
Aniwaniwa Tait-JonesJuniorHawaii at HiloNCAA D29.173
Sam MennengaJuniorDavidson College NCAA D17.185
Nate WilsonSophSouth Georgia TechJUCO6.565
Isaac Miller-JoseSeniorManitobaCanada6.552
Sam GoldSophMilliganNAIA6.578
Corey Le’aupepeGrad SnrMenloNAIA6.078
Sean MurphySophNebraska at KearneyNCAA D26.060
Alex BlackmoreSophCastletonNCAA D35.953
Maxim StephensJuniorRocky MountainNAIA5.628
Tobias Cameron Grad SnrAbilene ChristianNCAA D15.470
Flynn CameronGrad SnrUC RiversideNCAA D15.465
Kael RobinsonSophRocky MountainNAIA4.756
Kiani SaxonSophLouisiana State EuniceJUCO4.651
James MoorsJuniorColorado StateNCAA D14.559
Nico HillJuniorMissouri BaptistNAIA4.567

*records as at 28.12.2022

NB 53 New Zealand men are currently on basketball scholarships in America and Canada.

Te Araroa Sopoaga is again putting up big numbers at Cloud Community College. The sophomore forward is not only the leading rebounder amongst all New Zealand female players but also leads Cloud in assists, steals and blocks – Sopoaga is surely university bound in 2023-24!

If there is any sibling rivalry in the Stephens household Dominique at least can claim bragging rights on the rebounding count. She is currently averaging 6.2 per game, a shade better than brother Maxim who averages 5.6 per game.

Rotorua’s Waiata Jennings and Harbour’s Parehuia Delamere claim the third and fourth spots on the table while Cantabrian Helen Matthews edges Charlisse Leger-Walker as the top NCAA Division I rebounder.

Leger-Walker’s former Waikato and St Peter’s School sidekick Ella Bradley rounds out the Top 10 and is NZ’s leading NCAA Division 2 rebounder. 

Leading Rebounders – WomenClassUniversity/CollegeLevelRPGRebs
Te Araroa SopoagaSophomoreCloud County CCJUCO6.996
Dominique StephensSophomoreRocky MountainNAIA6.274
Waiata JenningsFreshmanCollin County CCJUCO5.870
Parehuia DelamereSophomoreWestern TexasJUCO5.763
Helen MatthewsJuniorWoffordNCAA D15.667
Charlisse Leger-WalkerJuniorWashington StateNCAA D15.262
Ella Paleaae-CookSophomoreMiles CCJUCO5.176
Briarley RogersSophomoreWeatherfordJUCO4.944
Leah MafuaSophomoreDodge City CCJUCO4.867
Ella BradleySophomoreTexas at TylerNCAA D24.752

*records as at 28.12.2022

** 64 New Zealand women are currently on basketball scholarships in America and Canada.

If you missed it here is the link to the leading scorers at this point of the season: https://bit.ly/3WMikxl

College Basketball half term report – Leger-Walker and Tait-Jones lead the way

28 December

In Part 1 of our American collegiate half term report we take a look at the leading scorers amongst the Kiwi contingent currently playing in North America. 

It’s not a total surprise that Charlisse Leger-Walker clearly leads the way in points scored and points per game at the mid-point of the collegiate season. Aniwaniwa Tait-Jones makes it a hyphenated double as he leads the way on the men’s side. 

Leger-Walker scored a career high 40 points earlier in the month and has scored 20 points or more on seven occasions this season. Having already amassed 1188 career points you suspect, barring injury, the former Waikato and St Peter’s guard is on course to pass Erin Rooney’s all-time Kiwi record of 1,647 career points.

Rotorua’s Waiata Jennings and Leah Mafua, both playing at junior college, are second and third on the rankings while Hannah Wentworth is the highest scoring kiwi in Women’s NCAA Division II hoops.

Jennings, in her freshman season, is leading the Collin Cougars scoring and had a season high 25 points against Angeline College. With a 12-0 record Collin are ranked #9 in the country amongst women’s junior college teams.

Leah Mafua is doing the same for #16 Dodge City College and with sister Jenna Rose averaging 11.9 points per game the Wellington siblings are providing a significant one-two back court punch for the Conquistadors.

Hannah Wentworth, in her second season with Eckerd College, is enjoying another strong season for the No 12 ranked NCAA Division II team. The Harbour shooting guard ranks sixth in 3-pointers made (35) – more on our top shooters in an upcoming report.

Leading Scorers – WomenClassUniversity/CollegeLevelPPGPoints
Charlisse Leger-WalkerJuniorWashington StateNCAA D121.1253
Waiata JenningsFreshmanCollin County CCJUCO15.3184
Leah MafuaSophomoreDodge City CCJUCO13.0182
Hannah WentworthSophomoreEckerd CollegeNCAA D212.5137
Briarley RogersSophomoreWeatherford JUCO11.9107
Te Araroa SopoagaSophomoreCloud County CCJUCO11.7164
Jenna Rose MafuaSophomoreDodge City CC JUCO11.4160
Amiee BookGrad SnrFresno StateNCAA D110.2133
Grace HunterJuniorCSU BakersfieldNCAA D19.758
Waiaaria RogersSophomoreMarshalltown CCJUCO9.466
Helen MatthewsJuniorWoffordNCAA D19.3111
Dominique StephensSophomoreRocky MountainNAIA9.1109
Dani BayesFreshmanBoise StateNCAA D19.0117

*records as at 26.12.2022

** 64 New Zealand women are currently on basketball scholarships in America and Canada.

Aniwaniwa Tait-Jones is building nicely on his previous two seasons at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. Tait-Jones was named PacWest Conference Freshman of the Year in 2020-21 and to All-West Region Second team in 2021-22. This season he averages 17.8 points per game, the best by any Kiwi in collegiate basketball. The former St Pat’s and Wellington forward has amassed 798 career points at 17.0 points per outing across 47 NCAA Division II games.

Sam Mennenga is the second highest scoring Kiwi tallying 15.8 points per game at Davidson College in the Atlantic 10 Conference. Capped earlier in the year by the Tall Blacks at the Asia Cup, the ex-Harbour and Westlake Boys forward is up to 599 career points – already 16th all-time on the NZ Men’s Division I scorers list midway through his third collegiate year..

The Waikato duo of Maxim Stephens and Kael Robinson occupy third and sixth spots on the NZ scoring table as well as the top two spots on the Rocky Mountain College scoring list. Stephens has played just the five games following his recovery from ankle injuries while Robinson is obviously reaping the benefits of the 2022 season in the NBL with the Franklin Bulls – he has started all 12 games for Rocky.

Boston Caldwell, another ex-Westlake and Harbour player, is the highest scoring New Zealander amongst the 16 Kiwi freshmen playing in America in 2022-23. Caldwell scored a massive 38 points in Central Maine’s penultimate game before the Xmas break. Nate Wilson is the only other junior college player to be averaging double figures per game.

Like the women there are a pair of siblings on the leader board. The Cameron brothers – Tobias and Flynn – feature amongst  the top 14 Kiwi scorers (and also amongst the top five NCAA Division I players). 

Leading Scorers – MenClassUniversity/CollegeLevelPPGPoints
Aniwaniwa Tait-JonesJuniorHawaii at HiloNCAA D217.8142
Sam MennengaJuniorDavidson College NCAA D115.8189
Maxim StephensJuniorRocky MountainNAIA14.673
Boston CaldwellFreshCentral Maine CCJUCO13.4134
Corey Le’aupepeSeniorMenloNAIA13.1170
Kael RobinsonSophRocky MountainNAIA12.2146
Mac StodartSophColorado SpringsNCAA D211.6139
Callum McRaeSeniorSacramento StateNCAA D111.5138
Kruz Perrott-HuntSeniorSouth DakotaNCAA D111.3136
Sam GoldSophMilliganNAIA11.3136
Tobias Cameron SeniorAbilene ChristianNCAA D111.2145
Nate WilsonSophSouth Georgia TechJUCO10.6106
Flynn CameronSeniorUC RiversideNCAA D110.2122
Alex BlackmoreSophCastleton NCAA D310.494

*records as at 26.12.2022

NB 53 New Zealand men are currently on basketball scholarships in America and Canada.

In part two, dropping tomorrow, we will take a look at the leading rebounders – which three Kiwis are averaging over nine boards per game?

Wrapping up the college pre-Xmas fixtures

December 23

Wrapping up the NCAA Division I pre-Xmas games two form players – Charlisse Leger-Walker and Tobias Cameron – grab the headlines.

More on Cameron’s performance later but first the sizzling form of Leger-Walker continues. She scored 20 points, making 5 from 10 threes, as Washington State defeated A&M Corpus Christi 75-49. It was the 30th occasion, in 66 career games, that Leger-Walker has scored 20 points or more  – she also tallied 7 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals.

There were plenty of Kiwis present as Portland entertained BYU in a West Coast Conference fixture but it was largely one way traffic in favour of Emme Shearer (9 points), Melika Samia (2 points) and Flo Dallow (redshirting) as Portland triumphed 67-45. 

Arielle Mackey-Williams scored 8 points for BYU.

Mackey-Williams scored 15 points (6/10FG) – her third double figure outing of the season – as BYU enjoyed a bounce back win defeating Monmouth 70-50. Kaylee Smiler almost matched that number with 14 points to go with 3 rebounds, 6 assists, a pair of blocks and a steal.

Grace Hunter scored a season high 14 points to help Cal State Bakersfield to a 54-41 win against Pacific. Playing a team high 35 minutes the combo guard also came up with 3 steals, 2 rebounds and 2 assists.

Dani Bayes also scored 14 points, on 6 from 9 shooting, as Boise State got the better of Texas A&M Commerce 75-66. The freshman guard, in her 13th consecutive start, added 3 rebounds an assists and a steal. 

Helen Matthews scored 12 points, passing 400 career points in the process, as Wofford secured a 79-67 win against UNC Asheville. Matthews also corralled 7 rebounds in the victory.

Olivia Williams made 3 from 4 threes on her way to 11 points as UC Irvine defeated Grand Canyon 64-51. The sophomore guard added a brace of assists and steals plus 3 rebounds.

Yzabelle Tevao top scored for Chicago State with 11 points but the Cougars were well beaten by Green Bay going down 92-42.

Ella Brow scored 9 points (4/8FG) as Southern Methodist defeated Incarnate Word 57-44. Brow added 5 rebounds a couple of assists and steals.

Tara Manumaleuga scored 8 points as Texas Christian routed Nicholle 75-32.

Amiee Book filled the stats line with 8 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, a block and a steal but Fresno State were outclassed by UCLA going down 82-48.

Virginia, after 11 straight wins to start the season, suffered a 70-56 loss at Duke. McKenna Dale had 4 points, 3 rebounds, a couple of steals and a block in the defeat.

Other Women’s Results:

Chicago State 51 (Yzabelle Tevao 2 points, 1 rebound, 1 block) Florida Atlantic 63

New Mexico State 90 (Ashlee Strawbridge 4pts, 4rebs, 2 blocks, 1 steal) Northern New Mexico 42

Houston Christian 34 (Lauryn Mapusua 5 points, 2 rebounds) Texas 96

La Salle 55 (Emilee Tahata 2 points) Villanova 81

St Mary’s 45 (Amy West 3pts, Tayla Dalton 2pts, Jade Kirisome 2pts) USC 71

In men’s Division I play Tobias Cameron and Abilene Christian inflicted some pain on Howard Payne with a commanding 113-52 victory. Cameron enjoyed a season best 18 points on 7 from 10 shooting including 4 from 6 triples. He also had 7 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals. 

Davidson were pipped 73-70 by Northeastern with Sam Mennenga a point shy of a double-double. The Tall Black forward finished with 9 points, 10 rebounds and a couple of steals. Mennenga heads into the Christmas break with 599 career points.

Davidson will open Atlantic 10 Conference play with a visit in-form Fordham on December 28. Fordham are 12-1 after an 80-77 overtime win against Virginia Military Institute. Zach Riley knocked down a three with 1:58 to play to give Fordham a 78-75 lead and finished with 8 points, 5 rebounds an assists and a block.

Once again in double-double territory was Callum McRae despite Sacramento State falling 59-49 to Cal State Fullerton. McRae scored 10 points leaving him just 9 short of 1,000 career points whilst pulling down a monster 14 rebounds – the third occasion in this campaign he has pulled down 14 boards.

Tafara Gapare had 5 points, 7 rebounds, a couple of assists and a block as Massachusetts  defeated Dartmouth 68-57 in their last non-conference game of the season.

Other Men’s Results:

Virginia 64 (Taine Murray 2 points, 1 rebound) Miami 66

UC Riverside 76 (Flynn Cameron 1 points, 5rebs, 5 assists, 3 steals) Portland 65

Hartford 53 (Tom Webley 4 points, 1 rebound) San Francisco 85

Merry Xmas.

Career performances from Shearer and West

December 19

Emme Shearer made a career high as Portland were also successful in their West Coast Conference opener. The former Harbour and Westlake Girls guard rattled in 4 from 5 threes to tally 19 points along with 5 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal. 

It took overtime but St Mary’s made a perfect start with a 69-66 victory at Pacific as West Coast Conference play got underway. Amy West claimed a career high 12 rebounds as well as adding a block and 3 points in the win. Tayla Dalton also starred for the Gaels making a team high 18 points to accompany a quintet of rebounds and assists to go with 3 steals. 

BYU went down 67-58 at reigning West Coast champions Gonzaga. Arielle Mackey-Williams scored 6 points for BYU with Kaylee Smiler posting 2 points and 2 rebounds. 

Washington State have concluded non-conference play with a comfortable 83-56 win against Jackson State. Charlisse Leger-Walker once again led the Cougars with 20 points along with 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals

Grace Hunter posted a season high 13 points, making 3 from 5 three-pointers, in California State University Bakersfield’s 75-47 loss to #10 ranked UCLA. 

Tara Manumaleuga scored 9 points, tallied 4 rebounds and added one each in the assists, steals and blocks stats categories as Texas Christian eased to a 56-45 win against Grambling.

Amiee Book scored 8 points in Fresno State’s narrow 53-48 win against Utah Valley.

Helen Matthews had a symmetrical 7 rebounds and 7 points as Wofford accounted for Bellarmine 69-56. The junior guard out of Kaiapoi added 4 assists a block and a steal.

Fellow Cantabrian Ashlee Strawbridge scored 5 points as New Mexico State edged a tight one against Portland State 55-53.

Olivia Williams was a perfect 3 from 3 for her 6 points as UC Irvine carved out a 72-57 win against Dartmouth. The sophomore guard added 4 rebounds, a block and a pair of steals. 

Other Women’s Results:

Chicago State 73 Yzabelle Tevao (2 points, 2rebs, 1 assist, 1 bock) Western Michigan 101

Virginia 84 (McKenna Dale 2pts, 3rebs, 3 assists, 2 steals, I block) Morgan State 28

In Men’s Division I play Callum McRae tallied a game high 21 points, on 10 from 14 shooting, as Sacramento State won 59-53 at Fresno State – the first win for Sacramento at Fresno since 1954! Additionally McRae had 6 rebounds, 2 assists, a steal and a block in 32 minutes.

Abilene Christian, with Tobias Cameron scoring a team high 17 points, erased an 18-point deficit, to claim a 65-59 win over Cal State Bakersfield. The Grad-Senior guard made 6 from 7 shots including 5 from 6 from beyond the arc. The 17 points also brought up 500 career points for Cameron.

Sam Mennenga and Davidson were in heady company on Saturday taking on the top ranked Division I team in the country, Purdue University. Mennenga demonstrated his qualities scoring a team high 14 points (6/11FG) in the 69-61 loss. The Tall Blacks forward also had 3 rebounds, a steal and an assist.

James Moors had 8 points, 4 rebounds and an assists as Colorado State stole a close one at St Mary’s 62-60. He now has exactly 100 points for the season.

Tom Webley had a productive 4 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists in Hartford’s 67-51 loss to St Francis, Brooklyn.

Other Men’s Result:

Marquette 69 (Ben Gold 3 points, 3 blocks, 1 rebound) Creighton 58

Flynn Cameron century creates unique family double

December 17

Flynn Cameron has become the 16th Kiwi to play 100 Men’s NCAA Division I games. He did so in University of California Riverside’s 71-65 loss at Oregon. Uniquely he joins brother Tobias as a Division I centurion. The only other New Zealand sibling duos to approach the mark were the Fotu brothers Dan and Isaac and the Leger-Walker sisters Krystal and Charlisse.

Dan Fotu played 126 games for St Mary’s, California (2018-22) with older brother Isaac suiting up on 63 occasions at the University of Hawaii (2012-14). Krystal Leger-Walker finished her college career with 142 appearances including a record 139 starts. Sister Charlisse, in her third year at Washington State, has already played 63 games – all as a starter – and barring a major injury will clock up 100 games around this time next year.

Flynn Cameron began his career at De Paul University in 2018 where he played 40 games. Benefitting from the additional Covid year the Tall Blacks guard is now in his third season at Riverside and, like brother Tobias, his fifth collegiate year overall. Flynn has started all 10 games for Riverside this season and is currently second on the team in scoring (11.1ppg) and assists (3.0apg) as well as leading the steals stat category with 1.6 per game.

Amongst active New Zealand players Kruz Perrott-Hunt looks to be the next destined to make 100 Division I appearances.

Playing his 90th game Perrott-Hunt passed 800 career points as he came up with 18 points, on 6 from 9 shooting, as South Dakota were tipped up at home 87-86 by Coastal Carolina in their final non-conference game of the season.

South Dakota open Summit League play on December 19 at Kansas City.

Perrott-Hunt is just the 8th Kiwi to score 800 points in Men’s NCAA Division I basketball.

In Women’s Division I action:

Despite St Mary’s being heavily beaten 91-56 by Montana State Tayla Dalton made a season high 20 points knocking down 6 from 10 threes. Tayla has now passed the 500 career points mark and is only headed by Charlisse Leger-Walker, Amiee Book and McKenna Dale amongst active Kiwi players.

Amy West scored 7 points (3/5FG) and Jade Kirisome 7 assists, plus 2 points, in the loss.

Olivia Williams scored 15 points, making 3 from 6 threes in the process as UC Irvine dominated Westcliff to record an 85-37 win. The Sophomore guard is now just three points shy of 200 career points.

Other Women’s Results:

Boise State 97 (Dani Bayes 5pts, 3 rebs) Evergreen State 31

Chicago State 56 (Yzabelle Tevao 2 points, 1 rebound) St Thomas 74

New Career high for Leger-Walker

December 12

Charlisse Leger-Walker scored almost two thirds of Washington State’s points as they dropped their Pac-12 Conference opener 82-66 to local rivals Washington. CL-W finished with a career high 40 points and only one point shy of matching WSU’s single-game scoring record.

She drilled 7 from 12 threes, also a career best, in addition to claiming 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals and a block.

It is almost certain that the 40-point haul is a record by a New Zealander in NCAA Division I basketball – male or female. Now with 1,137 career points Leger-Walker is quickly moving up the all-time list of Kiwi scorers in women’s Division I hoops. Currently sitting 11th she needs just 8 points to pass Margaret Johns (Utah State University, 1979-83) and claim a top ten berth.

Take a look at her 40-point performance – you can’t help but be impressed.

https://wsucougars.com/sports/womens-basketball?path=wbball

In other news from weekend games Amiee Book, with 1,075 career points herself, made 4 from 9 threes for her 12 points as Fresno State accounted for UC Irvine 53-44. Book also had 5 rebounds and 3 assists while Olivia Williams scored 2 points for Irvine.

Grace Hunter top scored for Cal State Bakersfield with 12 points in a 67-46 loss to Sacramento State. The TokomanawaQueens guard also pulled down 5 rebounds. 

Dani Bayes scored 9 points as Boise State were pipped 68-65 in overtime by St Mary’s. Jade Kirisome and Tayla Dalton each scored 4 points for St Mary’s – Dalton also claiming 7 rebounds. 

Kaylee Smiler also had 9 points in BYU’s 76-59 home loss to Utah.

Tara Manumaleuga scored 8 points and corralled a pair of rebounds in Texas Christian’s 63-59 loss to Missouri State.

Helen Matthews scored 8 points and had 3 assists, 2 rebounds a block and a steal although Wofford found the going a little tough against No8 in the country North Carolina, beaten 99-67.

Former Massey High School forward Yzabelle Tevao claimed 6 points and 5 rebounds in Georgia Southern’s 93-71 loss to Georgia Southern.

Other Women’s Results:

Portland 71 (Emme Shearer 5pts, 5rebs, 2 steals,1 block) Portland State 56

California State Northridge 97 (Rochelle Fourie 4pts, 4 rebs) Seattle 90

New Mexico State 64 (Ashlee Strawbridge 5pts, 3rebs, 1 assist) New Mexico 65

In Men’s Division I action from the weekend there was a third double-double (10 points and 10 rebounds) of the season plus a pair of blocks from Callum McRae as Sacramento State edged Long Beach State 76-78 and improve their record to 5-5 this season.

Tafara Gapare scored in double figures for the second game running as Massachusetts defeated Hosfra 71-56. The freshman forward scored 13 points, on 5 from 10 shooting, while also bagging a steal and a block in 20 minutes of action.

James Moors added 6 rebounds to 12 points (6/4FG) as Colorado State demolished Peru State 115-72.

Tobias Cameron came up with 10 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists as Abilene Christian defeated Texas A&M Commerce 83-64.

A couple of Kiwis were in opposition as UC Irvine won 83-71 at South Dakota. Akiva McBirney-Griffin scored 4 points for Irvine while Kruz Perrott-Hunt had 8 points for the Coyotes.

Other Men’s Results:

UC Riverside 76 (Flynn Cameron 4pts, 1 rebound, 4 assists) Idaho 74 

Fordham 77 (Zach Riley 4 points (2/2FG), 1 reb, 1 steal) Binghamton 62

Gapare, Book and Leger-Walker headline college midweek wrap

December 10

Kiwis Emme Shearer and Charlisse Leger-Walker, both wearing No5 singlets, went head to head as Portland entertained Washington State. Shearer scored the opening points of the game to help Portland to lead by as many as 19 points in the second quarter.

From there it was Washington State and Leger-Walker that took control to lead the Cougars to a 69-63 victory. The Tall Ferns guard finished with 15 points (5/8FG), 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals.

A made three amongst the 15 points was CL-W’s 127th career triple moving her up to 10th on the Washington State all-time 3-Point list.

Amiee Book’s recent good form continued as Fresno State took care of business against Northern Arizona winning 68-63. In addition to connecting with 5 from 7 from beyond the arc, for 17 points, she pulled down a season high 7 rebounds and snared a career high 6 steals.

Southern Methodist beat West Texas 64-46 with Ella Brow demonstrating her all-court prowess recording 6 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals.

Grace Hunter scored 9 points although California State University Bakersfield were well beaten by Pepperdine, 80-53.

Arielle Mackey-Williams added 4 rebounds and 2 assists to 8 points as BYU defeated Utah State 64-54.

Houston Christian dominated Arlington Baptist winning 101-42 with Lauryn Mapusua scoring 8 points for Houston.

In Men’s Division I action Tafara Gapare scored a career high 15 points as Massachusetts secured a sixth straight win in defeating Albany 87-73. It was just the seventh NCAA game played by the freshman forward out of Wellington.

Playing game number 101 Callum McRae was again productive as Sacramento State squeezed past Denver 87-85. Edging ever closer to 1,000 career points McRae – currently with 950 – tallied 10 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and a block.

Davidson defeated Western Carolina 72-64 with Sam Mennenga adding 7 rebounds and a pair of assists to 16 points. The Tall Blacks forward is closing in on 600 career points – currently he has 576 points.

Tobias Cameron top scored with 14 points (6/10FG) however Abilene Christian were defeated 81-64 by Kansas State. Cameron was also strong at the defensive end with 5 rebounds, 4 steals and a pair of blocks.

Kruz Perrott-Hunt scored 8 points as South Dakota were put to flight by Air Force going down 79-58.

Other Men’s Results:

Fordham 72 (Zach Riley 4pts, 1 reb, 1 assist, 1 block) Wagner 59

Colorado State 65 (James Moors 3pts, 4rebs, 2 blocks, 1 assist) Colorado 93

Records Galore in College hoops

December 6

It was a weekend of records in NCAA Division I basketball with Amiee Book, Charlisse Leger-Walker, Kruz Perrott-Hunt and the two Mac’s – Callum McRae and McKenna Dale – setting new marks.

We documented Callum McRae’s journey to 100 NCAA Division I appearances a couple of days ago – if you missed it take a read:

https://bit.ly/3P32POU

Amiee Book achieved the 100 game milestone last month before at the weekend scoring a career high 31 points. She made 8 from 14 threes and 11 from 17 shots overall but couldn’t prevent Fresno State Bulldogs being pipped 62-60 by Portland State. 

Book followed up with 12 points as Fresno State lost a one possession game for the second time in three days and the fourth time overall this season – they lost 62-61 to Sacramento State.

Also coming up with a career high points scoring effort was Kruz Perrott-Hunt. The South Dakota senior was mightily impressive in the Coyotes exciting  68-67 defeat of BYU. He finished with a game high 26 points making 4 from 5 threes and all 8 of his free-throw attempts.

Charlisse Leger-Walker made a career high equalling 6 threes, from 12 attempts, as Washington State beat Montana 77-57. The Tall Ferns guard finished with 24 points, 6 assists, a pair of rebounds and a steal.

McKenna Dale was in dominant form as Virginia thrashed UNC Wilmington 78-36. Dale finished with a season high 22 points (4/9 3PG) to accompany 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals for the unbeaten (10-0) Cavaliers. It was also her highest single game score for Virginia since transferring from Brown University prior to the 2021-22 season. 

Tara Manumaleuga scored a season best 13 points as Texas Christian defeated George Washington 68-56 and improve their record to an even 4-4. Manumaleuga came up with a career high 4 steals in the contest.

Helen Matthews posted her fourth double figure points haul of the season as Wofford defeated Emory & Henry 76.54. The Kaiapoi native totalled 11 points (5/8FG), 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals as Wofford improved to 7-2.

Another Cantabrian Ashlee Strawbridge scored 7 points in New Mexico State’s 57-52 defeat of San Diego. She followed that with 5 points, 4 assists and 3 rebounds although New Mexico State came up short against Idaho losing 68-62.

St Mary’s recovered from a nine-point fourth quarter deficit to beat UC Davis 58-53. Tayla Dalton scored 6 points, Amy West 5 points and Jade Kirisome 2 points in the win.

Southern Methodist Ella Brow had an even 6 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists as Southern Methodist accounted for Gardner Webb 84-71.

Grace Hunter, returned to the Cal State Bakersfield line-up after injury. The Wellingtonian guard scored 5 points and although she fouled out in the overtime period Bakersfield hung on to win a nail biter against Omaha 69-68.

Other Women’s Results:

Texas Christian 58 (Tara Manumaleuga 5pts, 4rebs, 2 steals, 2 assists) Rice 68

Boise State 48 (Danni Bayes 3pts, 1reb, 1 assists) Colorado 71 (Charlotte Whittaker 2pts, 2 rebs)

Back to men’s fixtures and Sam Mennenga was within a rebound of a double-double finishing with 20 points (9/16FG), 9 boards and 3 assists as Davidson were pipped 69-67 by Delaware. Mennenga has 150 points this season at a lofty 16.7ppg.

Also beaten narrowly were Colorado State going down 88-83 against Northern Colorado.  James Moors posted 14 points and 3 rebounds in the defeat.

Tafara Gapare scored 8 points, making 3 from 3 triples in the process, as Massachusetts squeezed past Harvard 71-68.

Callum McRae plays 100th game


Playing his 100th Division I game on Sunday (NZT) Callum McRae posted a double-double of 15 points and 14 rebounds despite Sacramento State University going down 72-65 at Santa Clara. It’s the seventh time in eight games this season he has posted double figures in points or rebounds.

Despite playing his 100th NCAA game it feels as if the collegiate career of McRae has flown under the radar somewhat – if dipping under the radar is possible for someone standing 7’1” tall!

Having spent four years at the University of California Riverside the former Manawatu and Palmerston North Boys High School standout has reunited with coach David Patrick at Sacramento State for the current 2022-23 collegiate campaign.

Coach Patrick was largely responsible for taking McRae to Riverside back in 2018 after his successful youth career. McRae repaid the faith by playing 92 games for the Highlanders over four years although he was forced to redshirt the 2020-21 year due to injury.

That was a particularly trying period for McRae given the timing of the injury.

“The injury was a huge challenge but it was compounded because Covid just hit too. I had great people around me to support me but not being able to be around my family was tough.”

McRae bounced back in style in the 2021-22 season scoring a career best 32 points against UC Santa Barbara and averaging 10.8 points and 7.9 rebounds across 28 games – 27 as a starter. His 6.1 defensive rebounds per game placed him 42nd amongst all men’s Division I players in that statistical category. Given there are over 5,000 male Division I players a 42nd placing is rather impressive! 

Despite the successes of last season when the opportunity to reunite with Patrick presented itself McRae had little hesitation in jumping on board.

“Coach Patrick is a great coach and better person but it came down to trust. I could’ve gone to a lot of places for my last year but playing, and having a significant role, was important to me and I knew I could trust him to have my best interests at heart.” 

Eight games into the new season and the 100th NCAA Division I appearance has rolled around. McRae was aware that the major milestone was imminent but unsure of exactly when.

“Being in college for so long I knew it was coming up. I’m just happy to have made it this far, I had a couple injuries that almost forced me to stop playing so I am very thankful to be able to be on the court still and do what I love. 

Perhaps even more significantly, barring injury, he will soon complete the double of 100 NCAA Division I appearances and 1,000 points and move into elite company – the double has only been achieved previously by Kirk Penney, Tai Webster and Craig Bradshaw.

To date he has 940 points – averaging 10.9 points per game (and 9.6 rebounds) – the 1,000 points mark looks likely to be achieved around the turn of the year.

Only fourteen New Zealand men have racked up 100 Division I appearances and amongst them are Dan Fotu (126 games for St Mary’s College, California) and Sam Waardenburg (118 games for the University of Miami).

The pair were involved in the two most memorable events in McRae’s junior career, both taking place in 2016.

Waardenburg and Fotu were opponents in “That Final” – the 2016 Secondary Schools Boys National Final, one of the most spectacular championship games witnessed in recent years.

Scoring 33 points and snaring 17 rebounds McRae dragged Palmerston North Boys High back from a massive 60-35 half-time deficit to take the lead in the fourth quarter.

Had it not been for the miraculous Rangitoto buzzer beater, courtesy of Cameron Stone’s miraculous shot, the championship would have gone the way of Palmy North Boys.

Later that year, this time playing with Fotu and Waardenburg, McRae enjoyed tremendous success at the FIBA U18 Oceania Championships in Fiji where the New Zealand team pulled off a stunning 57-51 victory against Australia in the final – the win qualifying the Junior Tall Blacks for the U19 World Cup the following year.  

McRae still has vivid memories of both events.

“After all these years that Rangitoto game is always bought up and still hurts a little but the joy of beating Australia helps a little. All I remember was the atmosphere of the game with my school behind us and the haka the boys did for us and then to Rangi. Even though we lost I was proud of that and the fight to come back after being down so much. 

“I still talk with a few of the boys every now and again and have even played with and against some here in college. That year group has been successful and I’m happy to see everyone succeeding and continuing on their paths.”

That 2016 U18 New Zealand team have gone on to achieve big things in the game. In addition to Waardenburg and Fotu, Taki Fahrensohn, Isaac Letoa, Quinn Clinton and the Cameron brothers Tobias and Flynn have played Division I basketball while Fotu, Letoa, Fahrensohn, Flynn Cameron and Taane Samuel, who was also on the team in Fiji, have gone on to play for the Tall Blacks.

Becoming the sixth member of the “Class of 2016” to gain senior international recognition would be special for McRae.

“I’d love to – playing for your country is an honour so if I ever have that opportunity I’d take it.” 

More pressing are the needs of Coach Patrick and the Sacramento State Hornets team as they strive to make an impression in the Big Sky Conference and beyond.

“I want to make my first NCAA tournament. Doing what I can to make that happen is priority number one and hopefully that will lead me to continuing my career professionally and becoming the best player I can be.”

Whether he gets to the Big Dance or not McRae will have plenty of good memories to reflect on when his college career concludes.

“Most of my highlights come from off the court. I’m lucky to have met some great people while being over here and have created lifelong friends. However beating Nebraska by a lot and Arizona state on the buzzer were great highlights too.

“I appreciate all the coaches and people who have helped me get to where I am today.” 

One of those to help McRae along his journey is his former Palmerston North Boys High Head Coach Miles Pearce. The former Tall Black is impressed with what he has seen.

“Cal has achieved so much in his career and it’s really only just beginning. He’s been a starter every year of his college career and improved his game every step of the way.

“I’m so proud of him and his accomplishments and everything he’s worked for. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for him.”

For now the focus for McRae is the present rather than the future.

Studying for a Master’s Degree in Recreational Therapy and ensuring the Hornets have a successful season are the main priorities for the big Kiwi.

The full list of centurions below includes former Hornet Izayah Le’afa the current New Zealand Breakers guard. 

100+ Men’s NCAA Division I Appearances/Starts (*Currently playing #Playing

 a fifth year)

133/121Rob Loe (University of St Louis, 2010-14)
131/61Sam Timmins (University of Washington 2016-20)
127/106Jack Salt (University of Virginia, 2014-19)
127/92Kirk Penney (University of Wisconsin, 1999-2003)
127/83Tai Webster (University of Nebraska, 2013-17)
126/47Dan Fotu (St Mary’s College, 2018-22)
125/103Mark Dickel (UNLV, 1996-2000)
123/104Craig Bradshaw (Winthrop University, 2003-7)
120/83Tom Vodanovich (James Maddison University, 2013-17)
118/69Sam Waardenburg (University of Miami, 2016-22)
117/108Izayah Mauriohooho-Le’afa (Sacramento State, 2016-20)
115/31Matt Freeman (Oklahoma, 2016-19, UC Santa Barbara, 19-20)
119/24*#Tobias Cameron (Abilene Christian University, 2017-present)
101/10Rory Fannon (Utah Valley University, 2007-12)

NCAA Midweek Wrap – Mennenga and Mackey-Williams star

December 2

Sam Mennenga scored 21 points and pulled down 7 rebounds as Davidson slipped to only their second loss of the season going down 68-66 in overtime to Charlotte. Up to 540 career points he moved past Matt Freeman (531 points), another former Westlake Boys High player, into 18th on the New Zealand all-time Division I scoring list. Next in line is Sean Marks who scored 557 points for the University of California between 1994 and 1998.

Zach Riley scored a season high 11 points (2/3 3PG, 3/4FT) as Fordham defeated Maine 72-67. Used sparingly so far this season Riley, afforded 17 minutes playing time, demonstrated what he could provide for the Rams moving forward. 

Tobias Cameron produced a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds as Abilene Christian dominated North American 93-46. Cameron also added a trio of steals and assists in the win.

Ben Gold made 7 points, in only 10 minutes, as Marquette defeated Baylor 96-70. The Tall Blacks forward also had a block and a rebound.

In women’s division I action Kiwi guards Arielle Mackey-Williams and Dani Bayes were in opposition as BYU took on Boise State. Bayes scored a season high 16 points, making 4 from 8 threes, but Boise State went down 76-67. Mackey-Williams made 17 points, one short of equalling her season best, for BYU as they improved to 5-3.

All three Kiwis were in scoring mode for St Mary’s as the Gaels pulled away in the second half to defeat San Jose State 63-48. Tayla Dalton added 8 rebounds to a team high 13 points (5/7FG) while Amy West scored 4 points and Jade Kirisome a deuce.

Cantabrian guard Helen Matthews scored 12 points – her third double digit outing in the last four games – as Wofford defeated Davidson 72-51 to make it 5 wins on the bounce.

Emme Shearer scored 11 points in just 11 minutes as Portland dominated Evergreen State to win 87-35. Melika Samia chipped in with 2 assists, 4 rebounds and a point as Portland improved to 5-3 on the season.

Tara Manumaleuga scored 10 points and added 3 steals and a block as Texas Christian put the defensive clamps on Incarnate Word to win 60-33.

Ella Brow scored 7 points (3/5FG) as Southern Methodist easily defeated Arkansas Pine Bluff 74-45.

McKenna Dale (6 points) made a pair of threes and garnered a couple of rebounds as Virginia beat Penn State 89-68.

Other Women’s Results:

Chicago State 43 (Yzabelle Tevao 4pts, 4rebs) Indiana State 68

La Salle 71 (Emilee Tahata 3pts, 2rebs) Lafayette 54 

New Mexico State 61 (Ashlee Strawbridge 4pts, 3rebs, 1 block) Texas El Paso 65

Houston Christian 51 (Lauryn Mapusua 3pts, 1 assist) Rio Grande Valley 68

UC Irvine 67 (Olivia Williams 4pts, 4rebs, 2 assists) Eastern Washington 65