NCAA Men: Gaels remain unbeaten, Jois helps upset Indiana

Damian Arsenis is back with all the latest on the Aussie men playing Division I college hoops over the past week.

What a big week it has been for the Aussies in the NCAA! Overtime thrillers, big double-doubles, game-winners and upset wins aplenty. Let's get stuck right into it...

Player of the Week

While Daniel Trist was again very good and Anthony Drmic racked up 29 points in a double overtime thriller, there was only one player who stood out above all else this week; Venky Jois - his second such award this season already.

Venky Jois helped lead the Eagles to an upset against Indiana - Credit Joe Eke via Eastern Washington Athletics

Eastern Washington won their 3rd game in a row as they smashed NAIA school Walla Walla 95-34 and broke the school's 40-year old field goal percentage shooting record by making 72.5% of its shots (37/51 FG). Leading the charge was junior forward Jois, dishing out a new career-high 7 assists and going a perfect 7/7 from the field on his way to collecting 17 points, 5 rebounds, and 1 steal in a turnover free 25 minutes of sheer class. Sophomore small forward Felix Von Hofe connected on 4/7 from downtown in his first career start to end with 14 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists in only playing in the first half! Also seeing some good court time in the big win was junior guard Daniel Hill who played 20 minutes for 1 rebound, 2 assists and 1 steal.

In their toughest challenge of the season to date, the Eagles would then travel to current #22 ranked Southern Methodist and had their winning streak come to an end. Despite racking up his first double-double of the season, Jois was unable to prevent a respectable 68-77 loss. In 37 minutes the talented Aussie compiled 13 points, 10 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 steals and 1 block. Von Hofe this time came off the bench to give 5 points in 12 minutes. The damage was done early as the Mustangs made all 9 of their opening shots to open up a lead they would maintain for the duration despite the Eagles never giving up; however the best was yet to come.

The Eagles closed out the last leg of their 2-game roadtrip at the home of the undefeated Indiana who had won 43 straight non-conference games in Assembly Hall - the third longest streak in the nation. That imposing record is no longer intact thanks to the Eagles overcoming a 12 point second half deficit to record a memorable 88-86 upset win. Jois made some key plays down the stretch including a blocked shot and changing another, helping the Eagles defeat a Big 10 opponent for the first time in 14 attempts and earn their first win in 21 contests in front of more than 10,000 fans. Jois would finish the game with a massive double-double of 20 points and 14 rebounds with 2 steals and an intimidating 5 blocked shots in 35 minutes, all while playing in front of a national TV audience (ESPN Highlights).

EASTERN WASHINGTON with a big road W as they end HOOSIERS 42 game non CONF winning streak ! #OUCH

— Dick Vitale (@DickieV) November 25, 2014

Boasting career-best figures of 17 points, 9 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.2 blocks per game while shooting almost 64% from the field, Jois is certainly elevating his game to new levels and clearly was the best of a great bunch of Aussies over the past week. While both Jois and the Eagles should celebrate the ground-breaking victory, it will be important for them to back it up with further wins against Northern Kentucky and Eastern Oregon.

Well, if you had gone for 20 points and 14 rebounds like Venky Jois, you'd be excited, too. @mikefender photo — Scott Horner (@ScottEHorner) November 25, 2014

Team of the Week

It was a tough selection this week, but I went with the unbeaten Gael's who this season have an increased Australian flavor after a lean 2013/14 season.

Improving to an unbeaten 4-0 record over the past week, Saint Mary's enjoyed a 78-62 win over Denver and then a narrow 72-69 win over California-Irvine.

MBK | 4-0 #Gaels have beaten WAC favorite (NMSU), Big West favorite (UC Irvine) & Summit runner-up (Denver). #truth

— Saint Mary's Gaels (@smcgaels) November 24, 2014

Running the point for the Gael's is freshman point guard Emmet Naar who continues to impress with his on court leadership and ball handling. Naar waited on his fellow Gaels against Denver and provided exemplary silver service, dishing out a game-high 10 assists with 6 points and 3 rebounds in 38 minutes. He then followed up with 4 points, 2 rebounds and 5 assists in the second win and is now handing out an impressive 6.8 dimes per game as a first year player; the best output in the West Coast Conference and 18th best across the country.

Dane Pineau also stepped up to provide 8 points on a perfect 4/4 from the field with 4 boards in the win against UC-Irvine and will look to increase his output against Cal Poly this week.

Emmett Naar - Courtesy Saint Mary's College

The Australian connection with the Gael's is set to continue, with Tanner Krebs, Kyle Clark and Jordan Hunter all signing National Letters of Intent to join Saint Mary's for the 2015/16 season.

Best of the Rest

Boise State backed up their win at the LMU Classic in thrilling fashion thanks to a classic 72-67 double overtime win over Montana. After trailing for almost the entire game, the Broncos fought back late in regulation, with Anthony Drmic converting a three-point play with 1:04 left to tie up the game. Drmic continued to come up with the big plays; connecting on a clutch 3-pointer to once again tie up the scores with 19.5 seconds left in the first overtime, and then scoring on a crucial drive that edged the Broncos ahead for good with just 1:55 left in the second and final extra time.

Drmic connected on 4 triples and shooting 7/8 from the charity stripe to finish with a game-high 29 points, the highest individual score by an Australian so far this season. He would also chime in with 6 rebounds and 1 steal in a herculean 47 minutes on court.

Also shining in the epic win was sophomore Nick Duncan. The sharp-shooting forward also landed 4 from beyond the arc on his way to 15 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist and 3 blocks in 41 minutes. Great support was provided by Igor Hadziomerovic in coming off the bench to provide 6 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists in 16 minutes. For Montana who boasted two Australians of their own, freshman forward Fabijan Krslovic started and contributed 2 points while sophomore guard Jack Lopez had 3 points and 1 rebound.

After such a tough win, the Broncos next challenge would be against the national #3 ranked Wisconsin and they received no mercy. The Badgers would gain the early upper hand and were never seriously threatened, rolling to a 78-54 victory. Despite averaging almost 21 points coming into the game, Drmic experienced an off shooting night and finished with just 7 points on 3/10 shooting to go with 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal. Duncan was also restricted to just 3 points on 1/2 from the field with just 1 rebound, while Hadziomerovic recorded just 2 points of his own in the Broncos first loss of the season and one they would rather forget. Despite the setback, Drmic moved into outright 6th place on Boise State's all-time scoring list and 15th on the Mountain West. Boise State's next games are against Idaho and North Carolina State.

Unlike this time last season, Lafayette is enjoying a successful start to the year, winning two straight games over the past week to improve to 3-1. First it was an 83-61 win over Princeton, with Dan Trist contributing 13 points, 6 rebounds and 2 assists in 28 minutes as all 5 starters scored in double-digits. The usually efficient Trist struggled with his shot in only making 5/13 from the field, however he would bounce back in outstanding fashion in the very next outing against another Ivy League school in Pennsylvania.

Trist was back to his absolute best, going 10/14 from the field on his way to a game-high 22 points with 5 rebounds and 1 assist as the Leopards held off a fast finishing Quakers 83-77. It is no coincidence that the Leopards rise this season is aligned with the outstanding play of Trist who is posting career-best numbers; 17 points and 6 rebounds per game while shooting at a 60% from the field. He will look to carry his great form into Lafayette's next outings against Yale and Fairleigh Dickinson with a goal to emerge riding a 4 game winning streak.

In playing just the one game over the past week, Texas-San Antonio were able to generate a very good 80-67 win over Texas State. One again it was senior forward Jeromie Hill who continued to impress in his return from injury, delivering his second straight double-double of the season. Hill scored 16 points with 11 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal as he guided the Roadrunners back from a 16 point first half deficit to a solid win. Freshman big man James Ringholt provided 3 points, 2 rebounds and 2 blocks in 10 minutes off the bench ahead of the Roadrunners next tackling Loyola-Chicago.

Hugh Greenwood and the New Mexico Lobos headed to Puerto Rico for the Tip-Off Challenge, returning home with 1 win and 2 losses and a key injury to starting guard Cullen Neal. In their opening game the Lobos were led superbly by Greenwood who posted a new career-high 24 points (8/16 FG) with 3 assists and 3 steals in playing 38 minutes. However Greenwood was the only Lobo to reach double-digits in scoring as their only other consistent scoring threat in Neal looked on from the sidelines, eventually falling short 65-69.

Despite losing Neal for the remainder of their trip to Puerto Rico, the Lobos rebounded to a 69-58 win over George Mason. Greenwood would struggle from the field in shooting 3/14 however he made 6/10 from the free throw line to finish with 13 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 block in 33 minutes. New Mexico then closed out the tournament with a 51-64 loss to Texas A&M, letting slip a 5 point half time lead, as the Aggies took control of the second to prevent the Lobos from heading home with a win. Greenwood scored 10 points but again struggled with his shot in going 3/12 from the field with 4 rebounds and 7 assists in 37 minutes. It was a tough trip for the new-look Lobos and they now head home with a 3-2 overall record and a chance to regroup.

The Harford Hawks managed to grind out two tough wins over the past week to improve to 3-1 and find themselves on a 3 game wining streak; their best start to a season since 1996/97. It may not have been pretty, yet the Hawks fought off a late challenge to defeat Dartmouth 53-48. Senior guard Corban Wroe came up big down the stretch, helping the Hawks make big stops at one end and then making a nice backdoor cut for the layup with just over 1 minute to go to put the game beyond reach. The defensively-minded Wroe would finish with 5 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal, while junior guard Taylor Dyson was unusually quiet with just 4 points and 1 steal in the narrow win.

The streak continued on the road against Niagara as Hartford against held on to win 65-62 in another close outcome. Wroe was again instrumental, going 3/5 from beyond the arc to finish with 9 points alongside 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and 1 blocked shot. He received some good support from Dyson who chipped in with 7 points, 4 rebounds and 1 steal, however he has yet to recapture the form he displayed on Hartford's off-season tour of Australia. Over the next week Hartford will look to extend their streak with games against Quinnipiac, Emerson and Yale to come.

With three Australian's in the starting 5, Albany earned their first win of the season in accounting for NJIT 65-48. Senior forward Sam Rowley was the pick of the Aussies, delivering 12 points, 8 rebounds, 1 assist and 2 blocked shots, going close to his first double-double of the season. Also providing solid output was junior guard Peter Hooley who collected 10 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal in 32 minutes, while sophomore forward Mike Rowley had 2 points, 6 rebounds and 3 steals. Making his collegiate debut was Geremy McKay, who saw 1 minute of action for a solitary rebound as the 2014 America East champions unveiled their championship and NCAA Tournament appearance banners.

Sam Rowley looks to score - Courtesy University at Albany Media Relations

Hoping to make it back-back wins, Albany were stunned 73-76 in an overtime loss at home to Quinnipiac. The Great Danes led by as many as 16 points in the first half before allowing the visitors to slowly make their way back into the game in the second and force an extra period. Despite 12 of Hooley's team-high 17 points coming in the second half and extra time, the Great Danes were unable to prevail. Hooley would also compile 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal in playing 40 minutes, while Sam Rowley had a team-best 8 rebounds with 9 points and 1 assist in 32 minutes. His brother Mike was solid with 8 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal in 35 minutes as the Aussies did their best to get the Great Danes over the line. They will look to bounce back with games against Colgate and UNLV ahead this coming week.

Son of current Melbourne United Head Coach Darryl McDonald, Durrell McDonald delivered an outstanding individual performance in helping DePaul to a convincing 80-62 victory against Drake. The junior guard was a perfect 4/4 from the field including 2/2 from long-range in filling the stats sheet with 10 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 steal and 1 block in 32 minutes as a starter. The Demon Deacons are, like McDonald's shooting, a perfect 2-0 to open the season with games against Lehigh and Stanford to follow.

Western Illinois recorded their first win of the season in dramatic fashion, thanks to a game-winning triple by Australian freshman guard Jamie Batish (watch here). The Leathernecks came from behind to steal a 60-57 win. As a starter, Batish played 36 minutes in gathering 7 points, 3 rebounds and 1 assist plus the game-winner.

And some other notable efforts worth mentioning in closing out this week's recap;

  • Senior center Chudier Pal provided 6 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal and 1 block in just 11 minutes as North Carolina-Asheville (2-2) defeated Johnson and Wales (NC) 87-48.

  • Freshman forward Bosko Kostur nailed 2/2 from beyond the arc for 6 points in 3 minutes as Bryant defeated New Hampshire 72-63.

  • Freshman forward Xavier Cooks had 5 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal and 2 blocks as Winthrop (2-2) lost to Savannah State 58-59. He then backed up for 6 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal and 3 blocks in a 64-69 loss to East Tennessee State.

  • Freshman Matt Jackson started for Grand Canyon and delivered 8 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists in a 64-66 loss to Texas-Arlington. He then had 3 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal as the Antelopes defeated Florida A&M 64-49.

  • Louisville defeated Marshall 85-67 with sophomore forward Mangok Mathiang chiming in with 4 points, 11 rebounds, 2 steals and 3 blocks in 24 minutes. He then chipped in 3 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 block in a 87-27 dismantling of Savannah State.

  • Sophomore forward Liam Thomas contributed 13 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist and 2 blocked shots as Nicholls State were overwhelmed 48-75 by Wake Forest.

  • Kai Healy will no longer be red-shirting this season. Due to team injuries, he has been activated and delivered 4 points, 3 rebounds and 1 blocked shot in Santa Clara's 52-79 loss to #20 ranked Michigan State.

Has Damian left out any performance of note? Please share a comment!