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NCAA Men: Cameron Healy and Jesse Hunt deliver scoring punch
One of the most eye-catching Aussies in Division I basketball this season is freshman guard Cameron Healy, providing a youthful Albany side with some much-needed scoring punch, while at the other end of the spectrum, Eastern Washington's senior forward Jesse Hunt is enjoying a career year.
While they have only won two of their 8 games to date, Albany's Healy has set the Great Danes alight. The 6'3 guard has logged at least 12 points or more in every outing, including four 20-point games en route to averaging 17.9 points per game.
The Great Danes have lost their past two contests, a 77-80 loss to LIU Brooklyn, and most recently a 77-91 to Dartmouth. Yet despite the unfavourable outcomes, Healy impressed on both games. In the narrow result to the Blackbirds, Healy drained 4 three-pointers on his way to compiling 22 points with 4 rebounds and 3 assists. He also received great support from fellow Aussie freshman Adam Lulka who added a 15-point and 13-rebound double-double. While Lulka scored to tie the game up with less than 30 seconds remaining, the Great Danes could not hold off the Blackbirds who scored last for the win.
Healy would back up to score a new career-high 24 points on 9-15 shooting which included another 4 triples. Lulka finished 1 rebounds shy of a second straight double-double in chipping in 14 points and 9 rebounds. However despite the impressive output from the Aussie duo, the Big Green had three players clock up 20 points or mor, with Dartmouth connecting on a combined 21 treys, ultimately burying the Great Danes.
Despite Albany's losses, Healy was named America East Conference Rookie of the Week, averaging 23 points across the two games. He has hit 4 three's in six games, including his past four games straight and is a player to keep a close eye on this season.
At the other end of the experience spectrum is Eastern Washington's senior forward Jesse Hunt. the West Australian has been in career-best form for the Eagles this season and has continued to put up big numbers.
Hunt has backed up his career-high 32 point outing in an overtime win against UMKC in outstanding fashion, delivering another two big performances. In a 59-83 loss to Washington, Hunt compiled 15 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists in another solid outing. He would step it up again though against Seattle. Against the Redhawks, Hunt would lift for a 26-point and 10-rebound double-double, showing he has range out to the three-point line in draining 3 treys. Unfortunately for Hunt and the Eagles, they lacked scoring depth and would be undone 68-88.
Despite the tough losses, Hunt has been a pleasant surprise to many of the Eagles faithful this season. To date the 6'7 forward is averaging an impressive 16.7 points at almost 55% from the field and 50% from beyond the arc, while also pulling down 8.3 rebounds per game.
Since overcoming an injury that delayed his season debut, Kouat Noi is starting to make some noise at TCU. In just his second outing of the season, the 6'7 sophomore forward exploded for a new career-high 27 points on a red-hot 11-17 shooting. He demonstrated his range from well beyond the arc in making 5-8 triples, while also handing off 4 assists in an 87-69 win against Eastern Michigan. In the Horned Frogs next two games, both victories against Central Michigan (89-62) and then Southern Methodist (67-59), the sophomore from Newcastle backed up with double figure scoring games. He compiled 16 points against the Chippewas and then 12 points with 6 rebounds and 3 assists in coming off the bench against the Mustangs. Noi's promise is tantalising, especially given the little preparation he was able to have as he battled to get himself fit to play. Yet he is already providing almost 16 points and 4 rebounds per game while shooting better than 55% from the field on a team currently boasting a 6-1 record.
Saint Mary's is synonymous with Australian basketball, and over the past week is has been Jordan Hunter's chance to take the limelight. While the 6'10 senior centre has been a solid contributor to open the season, he took a big step up in the Gael's across the past week with two big performances that ensured two straight wins after a run of 4 losses.
In a 'grudge' match against California, Hunter provided the backbone behind Saint Mary's important 84-71 home win against the Golden Bears. The big man added 9 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks, while compatriot Tanner Krebs came off the bench to fire in 3 three-pointers en route to adding 11 points in the big win. However the best was yet to come for Hunter.
Hunter was almost unstoppable against an outmatched Bethune Cookman, going 8-10 from the field for a new career-high of 26 points with 10 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 blocks in what was a complete performance. It was his first career double-double, and it helped the Gaels orchestrate a 93-61 dismantling of the Wildcats. Fellow Aussies Kyle Clark, Jock Perry, Alex Mudronja and Krebs would combine for 19 of the Gaels' 20 bench points in the contest, as they cruised to their fifth win of the se
Sophomore guard Isaac White received his first real opportunity to shine this season, and it came on one of the biggest stages up against #2 ranked Kansas, and boy was it a thriller! White was on fire from deep, draining 5 three-pointers to finish with 15 points as he helped Stanford push the Jayhawks into an overtime. While Kansas would manage to get the win, White was impressive in his first start of the season, and was able to come up with the big shots which made all the difference to ensure a competitive game. With White finally seeing some decent court time, he helped overturn the poor perimeter shooting the Cardinal had suffered so far this season and in the process ensured he will see more court time in the forseeable future.
Following two quiet scoring games by his lofty standards, Dejan Vasiljevic was back to his best across Miami's last two games. The junior from Melbourne added 17 points and 6 rebounds for Miami against Yale, but it was not enough to prevent his side from going down 73-77. The guard hit 4 three-pointers, but his team hit just 6-26 from long distance and would be outdone by a team shooting at a higher clip from the field. Vasiljevic's Aussie team-mate Deng Gak added 5 points, 3 rebounds and 2 blocks in 17 minutes.
Miami would drop their fourth in a row against courtesy of a 75-89 result against Pennsylvania. While the Hurricane's improved their shooting percentages, they were unable to limit that of their opponent who scored at a blistering 59.6% from the field and 56.4% from beyond the arc. Vasiljevic himself scored at better than 50% in adding 10 points on 4-7 shooting, but the Hurricanes were unable to limit the scoring efficiency of the Quakers. After winning their first five games straight, things have not gone according to plan over recent weeks for Miami.
Enjoying a brilliant season is senior Matt McCarthy, with the 6'9 forward from Melbourne helping San Francisco compile an impressive 8-1 record to open the season. McCarthy has scored in double figures 7 times to date, with one of his best outings coming in a narrow first loss against #21 ranked Buffalo in what was a battle of then unbeaten teams. Against the Bulls, McCarthy fired in 7-8 from the field on his way to logging 17 points and 6 rebounds. However despite closing to within 2 points late, the Dons could not find a way past Buffalo who held on for the win.
Sophomore guard Kyle Zunic fell one point shy of equalling his career-high in Winthrop's 81-99 loss to Davidson. The Eagles trailed by just 6 points at half time in a high scoring game, but could not keep pace with the Wildcats in the second half before going down by 18. Zunic went 5-10 from the field and 5-5 from the charity stripe in adding a season-best 16 points with 4 rebounds and 4 assists. The loss broke a three-game winning streak, but it was the sixth game this season that saw the guard from Wollongong score 10 or more points.