NCAA Men: Hunter Marks' game-winner, Alex Ducas' career-night
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Following a short break for Christmas, US college basketball returned to action across the past two days, with Australian men performing exceptionally well across the country, with Hunter Marks coming up with a game-winner for Hartford and Alex Ducas a career-night for Saint Mary’s.
Phillip Island’s Hunter Marks is also breaking out for Hartford this season, with the sophomore forward doing a bit of everything in the Hawks’ thrilling 67-66 win against Big 10 program Northwestern.
Marks gathered 10 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists, and most importantly the go-ahead game-winner before then blocking a shot at the other end, ensuring Hartford became just the fourth America East team to defeat a Big 10 side since 2016.
Marks is now averaging an impressive 12 points and 6.9 rebounds per game, and is set to play an important role for Hartford in their America East campaign.
Alex Ducas’ game is a perfect fit for Randy Bennett’s Saint Mary’s offence. The 6’6 sharpshooter put his skills on full display as the Gaels pulled away from Seattle in the second half to register their thirteenth win of the season.
The West Australian came off the bench to register career-high’s in points, rebounds, three-pointers made and minutes played as the Gaels rode a 13-0 run after the half time break to cruise to an 84-58 win. Ducas hit 4 of 5 from beyond the arc, making a living from the corners as he compiled 16 points with a game-high 8 rebounds and with 1 assist and 1 steal in 19 minutes.
Fellow Aussie Tanner Krebs had a tough shooting night, going 2 of 10 from the field and just 1 of 7 from downtown in logging 6 points and 3 assists in the win. New Zealander Dan Fotu shined also, pouring in a career-high 17 points in his first start of the season.
Ducas’ previous best of 8 points came in a win against Cal Poly when he drained 2 of 2 from deep alongside 4 rebounds. Firming his place in the rotation, Ducas is shooting an incredible 59.1% from beyond the arc, albeit on a small sample size of 1.3 three’s attempted per game.
Eastern Washington chalked up a win in their opening Big Sky conference campaign, coming away with a nail-biting 79-77 road win against Weber State. The Eagles let slip a 16 point lead in the second half, before holding on via two late free throws and escaping with the win.
Senior forward Mason Peatling was made to work hard for his 12 points, shooting 5-15 from the field (1-3 3PT) alongside 8 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 blocked shot. Freshman Tyler Robertson came off the bench to provide a scoring spark, hitting 3 of 3 from beyond the arc for his 9 points and 2 rebounds in just 8 minutes on court. Fellow Aussie Jack Perry added 5 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists with 2 steals in playing 38 minutes.
Number 4 ranked Duke took care of business against Brown, rolling to a 75-50 victory to improve their season record to 11-1. Senior co-captain Jack White started and provided 9 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals and 1 block in just 17 minutes in the lop-sided encounter where the Blue Devils shooting misfired all game.
Grant Anticevich continues to excel with Cal, delivering 12 points and 4 rebounds albeit in a 63-71 loss to Harvard in their last non-conference hit out. It was the fifth game this season that the junior forward from Sydney has logged double digit scoring this season, having cemented his position in the starting five.
Another New South Welshman forward in Myles Cherry has been turning heads for Lafayette, with the senior crafting a double-double in a narrow 67-66 win against Sacred Heart to close out the Leopards non-conference schedule. Cherry shot 6 of 10 from the field on his way to 12 points, while also pulling down 10 rebounds with 2 assists and 1 blocked shot to help chalk up their eighth win of the season.
As New Mexico try to adjust to losing Calton Bragg and J.J. Caldwell through to suspension, Makuach Maluach continued to provide a solid output to help the Lobos withstand UC Davis 74-69 and extend their winning streak to eight. The Lobos held on down the stretch to improve their record to 13-2 as they look at a return to Mountain West Conference play with a 2-0 record and an imposing 10-0 record at home. Maluach managed to provide 14 points and 8 rebounds, the eighth time he has scored in double figures from his 15 games.
In a contest against NAIA program Eastern Oregon, Utah State racked up 100 points for the first time this season to run away with a 129-69 win. Freshman Sean Bairstow enjoyed feasting on the opposition, shooting 7 of 11 from the field (2-3 3PT) to finish with a new career-high of 14 points with 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals in playing 31 minutes.
Cal Bapist also enjoyed a big win against NAIA opposition, taking down Ottawa University Arizona 92-75, closing out December where they won every game. Glenn Morison had a day out for the Lancers, amassing an 18-point (8-9 FG) and 11-rebound double-double with 2 assists and 2 blocks. He received great support from fellow Aussies Tre Armstrong (10 points) and Reed Nottage (9 points) in the easy win.
Under the guidance of Australian head coach David Patrick, UC Riverside registered an impressive 60-57 come-from-behind victory against Fresno State. Trailing by as many as 20 points, the Highlanders finished strongly to take the lead with under one minute to play. Dragan Elkaz was the lone Aussie to take to the court, playing just 11 minutes for 3 rebounds and 1 assist. It was UC Riverside’s second straight win against a Mountain West opponent and has them well placed ahead of conference play commencing.