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NCAA Men: Jordan Hunter sparks Gaels to fourth straight win
Forward Jordan Hunter provided the spark that help power Saint Mary's to a fourth straight win, while Cameron Healy, Jesse Hunt and Kouat Noi also maintained their consistent output to open the college basketball season. However it was not all good news this week, with Deng Gak ruled out for the season with a serious knee injury.
Former Australian junior representative Gak suffered a knee injury in Miami's game against Yale on 1 December. Diagnosed as requiring 6 months to recover, he will now miss the remainder of the Hurricanes' 2018/19 campaign. The set-back for Gak is exacerbated by the fact he red-shirted last season, leaving the promising talent with next to no meaningful on-court experience across the best part of 2 years by the time he returns.
Saint Mary's won their fourth straight as they blew away Cal State Fullerton in the first half to open up a 21 point lead at the main break. Leading the way was senior big man Jordan Hunter, contributing a second career double-double in adding 18 points on 9-13 shooting with 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals and 3 blocks in a terrific all-round performance. The Gaels cruised home, registering an 81-66 win ahead of their next outing on the road against LSU.
Senior forward Jesse Hunt continued his best season with Eastern Washington by delivering his fourth double-double of the season, albeit in a 67-74 loss to North Dakota State. Hunt added 11 points with 11 rebounds and 2 assists in another strong outing, but the Eagles ran out of steam down the stretch to just fall short. The Eagles received just 2 points from Jack Perry, while fellow Australian Mason Peatling is yet to make an appearance this season as he battles to return from injury.
The Duke Blue Devils made light work of Yale in the second half of their clash, piling on 50 points to 26 after half time to roll to another big win, 91-58. While all eyes were on the star trio of Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish who combined for 60 points, Duke's Aussie captain Jack White was again the glue holding it all together. White came off the bench to play 25 minutes, adding 9 points on 3-5 shooting alongside 12 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocks, and more than held his own among elite company. The #3 ranked Duke still only have one loss against their name - to #1 ranked Gonzaga - and it does not look like anyone will challenge them until their 21 December clash scheduled against #11 Texas Tech.
Consistency has been the theme behind Jack Purchase's solid start to his senior year at Hawaii. The 6'9 sharpshooter hit 4-6 from the field for 10 points and 9 rebounds and 4 assists in the Rainbow Warrior's closer-than-expected 82-75 win against Division II program Hawaii Hilo. It was his eighth game in which he has scored in double figures this season, with the only game in single digit scoring being an 8 point outing in a loss against Seton Hall. Freshman Aussie Owen Hulland was also impressive, with the big man coming off the bench to chime in with 8 points and 5 rebounds in a productive 15 minutes. With victory, Hawaii ended a 3 game losing streak.
Another forward who is impressing is Kouat Noi at TCU, with the 6'7 wing scoring double figures for the fourth straight game as the Horned Frogs extended their winning streak to 4. TCU took care of USC 96-61 with relative ease, narrowly missing out on racking up triple figures. Noi came off the bench to shoot 6-14 from the field on his way to 14 points and 6 rebounds to be one of six Horned Frogs to hit double digits in scoring. TCU has compiled a 7-1 record to open the season, and looking ahead could well head into the New Year without another blemish against their name.
Maintaining his unblemished scoring record in his freshman year was Cameron Healy, adding two more games in which he has scored in double figures for Albany with a win against Monmouth (82-63) before going down to Yale (63-71) across the past week. Trailing by 4 at the main break against the Hawks, the Great Danes finished strongly to register a convincing win despite a tough shooting night for Healy. The New South Welshman compiled 11 points but on 3-11 shooting, handing out 4 assists along the way. Fellow freshmen and compatriots Brent Hank and Adam Lulka combined for 14 points and 6 rebounds. In the narrow loss to Yale, Healy stepped up a level, adding 15 points (7-19 FG), 2 rebounds and 4 assists. Lulka would go close to registering a second career double-double, contributing 11 points and 8 rebounds.
After logging just 24 minutes across three of California's 7 games to open the season, Grant Anticevich received an opportunity to play extended time up against San Diego State. The 6'8 sophomore forward grasped the opportunity presented, delivering career-high's of 13 points (6-10 FG) and 6 rebounds in 26 minutes off the bench as the Golden Bears broke a 2 game losing streak courtesy of an 89-83 win.