Many Australian men delivered outstanding performances this past week in NCAA Division I hoops, including a breakout performance by UCLA’s Jonah Bolden.
After a relatively quiet start to his collegiate career with UCLA, Jonah Bolden played a key role off the bench in helping upset #20 ranked Gonzaga. After a Bulldogs missed a triple that would have stolen the lead, Bolden pulled down the defensive rebound, was fouled, and made both from the charity stripe with 2 seconds left to seal a 71-66 victory. Bolden recorded his first career double-double, gathering 10 points, 11 rebounds, 1 assist and in 30 minutes. It was the Bruins second win over a top 20 ranked opponent within 9 days (10 point win against #1 Kentucky), as they improved their record to 7-3.
Earlier, both Jack Lopez and Fabijan Krslovic went close to registering double-doubles in Montana’s near upset of Gonzaga. Although they fell short 58-61, Krslovic battled foul trouble to gather 6 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal in 19 minutes as a starter, while Lopez came off the bench for 7 points, 7 rebounds and 1 steal in 32 minutes. Lopez gave the Grizzlies the lead 58-56 with just over 1 minute remaining after sinking both free throws. However the Bulldogs bit back to earn the win.
In their next game against Washington, Krslovic again demonstated his all-round capabilities by compiling 9 ppoints, 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals in a 62-92 loss. Lopez just 2 points and 2 rebounds off the bench as the Grizzlies fell to 5-3.
Both Nick Duncan and Anthony Drmic posted 10 points apiece in Boise State’s thrilling 66-67 win over Loyola Marymount. Duncan would add 5 points, 1 steal and 1 block, while Drmic also had 3 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal. For the Lions, sophomore forward Josh Spiers managed 3 points, 1 rebound and 1 assist in 19 minutes.
Against #24 Oregon, the Broncos earned a statement 74-72 win against a ranked opponent at home after going close previously against Arizona and Michigan State. Drmic poured in a team-high 19 points including 4/7 three-pointers to help guide Boise State to what will likely prove to be an important victory. He would finish the game shooting 6/10 from the field with 3 rebounds and 2 assists, while Duncan chimed in with 9 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks.
After two consecutive wins, Eastern Washington fell back to earth with two straight losses to Davidson (96-86) and Pittsburgh (84-51). Against the Wildcats, Venky Jois was at his best with his first double-double of the season. He piled on 21 points on 10/17 shooting with 14 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 blocks, however it was not enough to help prevent the road loss. Felix Von Hofe contributed 6 points, 8 rebounds and 1 steal.
Pittsburgh were dominant in their win against the Eagles, despite Jois and Von Hofe’s resistance. Jois would compile 10 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals while Von Hofe would also add 10 points with 2 assists and 1 steal in the lop-sided contest. Jois remains entrenched in the top 25 (21) in the nation for field goal percentage, connecting on 65.9% of his shots.
Continuing his rich vein of form was Youngstown State’s Matt Donlan playing against #11 Purdue. Against the Boilermakers, Donlan landed 5/8 treys on his way to a game and new career-high 19 points with 5 rebounds and 3 assists. Despite Donlan’s scoring exploits, the Penguins fell foul of Purdue’s pressure defense, shooting just 29.2% from the field and dominated in the paint (29-44 rebounds).
Peter Hooley racked up 20 points and 5 rebounds however Albany fell to Siena 70-78 and fell to 7-4 on the season. The Great Danes struggled from the field as they shot just 37.1% compared to 52.6%. Mike Rowley gathered 6 points, 9 rebounds and 1 steal in the loss.
After delivering 10 or more points in his past 6 games, George Blagojevic was relatively quiet in Hartford’s sixth straight loss. Blagojevic was able to record 7 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists to try to help arrest the Hawks’ slump. However they fell agonisingly short 68-66 to Quinnipiac, with a three-point attempt at the buzzer missing.
Junior transfer forward Tevin Jackson and McNeese State took on Indiana and were embarrassed 60-105. However the Cowboys Aussie forward put up a fight in posting a new career-high 13 points (5/9 FG) with 7 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal as a starter playing in Assembly Hall. McNeese State are now 1-7 to open the season and desperately seeking that next win.
Saint Mary’s unbeaten start to the season to came to an end at the hands of California (59-63), a team that toured Australia in the off-season. After a blistering start, Emmett Naar’s scoring was restricted to just 3 points (1/1 3PT) however the point guard still managed to contribute with 8 assists, 3 rebounds and just 1 turnover. Dane Pineau’s emergence continued as he delivered a double-double consisting of 10 points, 15 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 block, while Jock Landale added 8 points, 3 rebounds and 1 assist off the bench. Kyle Clark netted 2/3 from long-range en-route to 6 points also off the bench with the Gaels now 6-1.
And how could I leave out Ben Simmons who lodged his 7th double-double of the season before fouling out in regulation as LSU lost to Houston 98-105 in extra time. Simmons scored 13 points (5/7 FG) alongside 14 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks in 35 minutes.Many would say that Simmons was too unselfish, however if his team mates had made open shot after being set up by Simmons, he may well have delivered his first triple-double. Defensively, LSU has allowed their opponent to score over 100 points in their past two games and they will need to remedy this should they wish to get their season back on track.