NCAA Men: Aussie trio has Gaels soaring

A trio of Australian's has Saint Mary's Gaels back up and soaring, as a host of other Aussie men made big contributions to their sides across Division I college basketball this past week.

Saint Mary's is back on track and on a six game winning streak with two more wins under their belt this past week. Once again it was senior centre Jock Landale leading the way. The 6'11 pivot collected a 14 point and 11 rebound double-double in a solid 54-69 victory over Dayton. Trailing by 2 points at the main break, the Gael were spurred on thanks to a 40-23 second half after lifting their defensive intensity. Landale shot an efficient 7-9 from the field and also blocked 2 shots, while Emmett Naar added 7 points and 9 assists in the win. Saint Mary's shot 51% from the field against Dayton, including 9-23 from distance.

North Carolina Asheville proved no match for a rampaging Gaels, with the Aussie trio of Landale, Tanner Krebs and Naar all starring in a convincing 65-95 triumph. The Gaels offensive was in rhythm, going 52% from the floor and draining 15 three-pointers. Saint Mary's gained the early lead 15-5 just 4 minutes into the game and never looked back, with Krebs landing 6-12 from downtown as he finished with 22 points, 7 rebounds and 3 steals. However as good as Krebs was, Landale led all scorers with 23 points, making 9-13 shots from the field alongside 10 rebounds and 2 assists, registering his fifth double-double in a row and his seventh of the season. Also not to be left out, Naar dished out 12 assists to go with his 7 points and 5 rebounds. With his big assists haul, Naar moved into second place across the nation with 9.2 dimes per game, while Landale would collect his second WCC Player of the Week award.

Overcoming a back complaint that forced him to miss their win over Lamar, Chima Moneke returned against Radford to deliver a 19 points, but UC Davis lost a 62-72 overtime contest. UC Davis came from 7 points down with under 10 minutes to play to twice steal the lead within the final 3 minutes. Radford's scoring dried up as they missed 9 straight shots and the Aggie's were seemingly destined for the come-from-behind win. However Radford broke their drought to hit a dagger three-ball to send the contest into overtime, and from their they never looked back to win by 10.

Moneke was UC Davis' best, collecting his eighth double-double of the season for 19 points and 10 rebounds. The Aggies shot just 33% from the field and an even worse 20% from beyond the arc and will rue their missed opportunity.

Deng Adel's run of scoring in double figures shows no signs of slowing, with the 6'7 sophomore wing helping lead Louisville to a six game winning streak. However it was almost not the case, with the Cardinals just managing to hold off a very good Albany side, escaping with 70-68 win. Louisville went almost 9 minutes without scoring in the second half as the Great Danes made a run at the Cardinals. Adel would finish with 13 points and 3 rebounds to play his part in ensuring the win.

Against Grand Canyon, Adel would chime in with 14 points and 2 assists as Louisville cruised to a 56-74 result. A 21-3 run in the second half did the damage, with the Cardinals able to overcome an early deficit. Grand Canyon boasted a couple of Aussies on the roster, with Gerard Martin adding 2 points and 3 rebounds, and Matt Jackson pulling down 5 rebounds for Grand Canyon.

Following a last start quiet game from Xavier Cooks, he bounced back with a big double-double in going up against Virginia Commonwealth. The 6'8 senior forward was the only Eagle to score in double figures en-route to registering a double-double as the Rams pulled away for a 55-69 win. He gathered a team-best 17 points on 7-13 shooting with 12 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks. However despite Cooks' haul, Winthrop shot just 3-25 from beyond the arc for the game, including missing all 11 attempts in the first half, allowing the Rams to close on a 16-3 run that ultimately proved the difference.

Playing for #18 ranked Baylor and fresh off his career-high 30 point outing, Jo Lual-Acuil Jr's scoring output was more subdued in the Bears' 80-60 victory over Southern. The 7'0 big man went 3-4 from the field for 7 points alongside 4 rebounds and a huge 5 blocks in just 23 minutes on court. A 13-0 run in the first half opened up the game, aiding Baylor in winning their fifth straight.

After a couple of quiet games, Duop Reath dynamic scoring returned in a big 104-52 LSU win over North Florida. The athletic 6'11 big man went 7-12 from the field to fuel LSU with an equal game-high 15 points. He also chipped in 7 rebounds and 2 blocked shots in playing just 21 minutes as the Tigers spread the minutes in the lop-sided contest.

Sam McDaniel has been quietly going about his business for Louisiana Monroe, helping guide the Warhawks to three straight wins, including victories over Millsaps and Centenary this past week. In a 97-44 win over Division III side Millsaps, McDaniel played just 15 minutes in which he scored 13 points on 5-6 shooting (3-4 3PT) with 4 rebounds and 4 assists in a commanding display, albeit against inferior opposition. Fellow Aussie Kiir Deng would chip in 9 points and 5 rebounds in that win. McDaniel would back that up with 17 points (5-11 FG) including 3-6 from long-range alongside 5 rebounds and 2 assists in an easy 51-74 victory over Centenary, another Division III school.

After an inauspicious debut, Harry Froling stepped up to show what he is capable of in Marquette's 92-51 demolition of American. Froling logged 21 minutes, contributing 9 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists in a dominant performance off the bench. The Golden Eagles have now won 7 of their last 8 games, and looking more ominous with the Queenslander now in the lineup.

It was a close one for San Francisco who despite a career night from Matt McCarthy, lost to Duquesne 67-65 at the Continental Tire Classic in Las Vegas. The 6'9 Victorian gathered 19 points on a hot 8-12 shooting, also pulling down 8 rebounds in a very good showing. McCarthy came up big down the stretch, making a traditional three-point play to keep his side in contention. However with last possession and a chance to win the game, the Dons missed the potential game-winner to lose a heart-breaker.

A number of Aussies have been spending Christmas in Hawaii, with Miami, New Mexico State and Hawaii all in action at the Diamond Head Classic. Miami maintained their unbeaten record to open the event, accounting for Hawaii 75-57. The Rainbow Warriors' Jack Purchase added 9 points and 12 rebounds with 3 assists, but it was not enough to halt the hurricane's unbeaten start to the season. Dejan Vasiljevic chimed in with 6 points in 2-3 three-pointers.

Miami was then upset 63-54 by New Mexico State despite a team-best 15 points by Vasiljevic. The Melburnian went 6-11 from the field and added 5 rebounds, however the Aggies' defense restricted the Hurricanes to just 2-18 from downtown and 34% shooting overall. On Christmas day, #15 ranked Miami rebounded to an 81-84 win against Middle Tennessee State, with Vasiljevic landing 3-6 treys for 13 points and 5 rebounds. It was an important result to ensure they didn't drop a second straight game after a fantastic start to the season.

In a high quality contest, freshman Jacob Rigoni stepped up to provide 17 points including 4-7 three-pointers in Quinnipiac''s narrow 73-80 loss to Vermont. Rigoni was on fire early, draining two straight triples to keep the Bobcats in front, however Vermont slowly pulled away to record the close win. The South Australian was one of four Bobcats to score in double figures, yet they allow Vermont to shoot almost 58% from the field.

Eastern Washington recorded a big 66-94 win over NAIA school Providence (MT), with Jesse Hunt delivering a double-double. The 6'7 forward compiled a career-high 16 points on 6-10 shooting with 11 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals as he played a blinder. Freshman Jack Perry added 7 points and 4 assists to ensure the Eagles cruised to their second straight after dropping 5 in a row.

Senior guard Jamaal Robateau stepped up over the past week to register two straight Gardner-Webb wins in which he scored 10 points. In a 80-79 thrilling win against Hampton, Robateau went 4-8 from the field including 2-4 from beyond the arc, helping his side record an important win. He then hit 3-7 from downtown and added 3 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals as the Bulldogs thrashed NAIA school Toccoa Falls 41-102.

George Blagojevic enjoyed his best outing of the season for Hartford in their 79-72 win over Florida International. The 6'8 junior added 10 points on 5-6 shooting with 6 rebounds and 4 assists as the Hawks won their first road win of the season.