Damian Arsenis takes a look at which Aussie men earned some early Christmas cheer over the past week in NCAA Division I hoops.
Christmas and the New Year are upon us. There were some very good performances over the past week worth calling out as non-conference play starts to wind up.
Player of the Week
It was a tough job selecting this week's gong. On one hand you had last week's recipient Peter Hooley doing his thing once again in two Albany wins, not to forget team-mate Sam Rowley who was his consistent best. However after a week off, It is once again Eastern Washington's Venky Jois who picks up the award after a big performance on the road at California, and another great effort back at home where he reached an individual milestone.
Closing out their 5 game road schedule, Eastern Washington's Jois and team-mate Tyler Harvey combined for 54 points but it was not enough to beat California on their home turf. The Eagles earned an early lead thanks to the play of Jois who had 11 points in the first 14 minutes of the game. However the Bears turned the tide and managed to open up an 11 point lead at the main break, a lead that California would maintain in prevailing 78-67. Jois was yet again very good against quality opposition, delivering 23 points (9/14 FG), 6 rebounds, 1 steal and 1 blocked shot in 34 minutes. Jois and Harvey did not receive enough support from their team mates, with not other Eagle scoring more than 5 points.
Back at home against NAIA opponent Lewis Clark State, the Eagles opened up a 13 point buffer at the main break but had to fight off a late challenge to eventually earn an 87-81 victory. In scoring 13 points, Jois reached another milestone in notching up 1,000 career points and is now just one of 17 players in school history to do so. He also collected 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal and 2 blocked shots in 33 minutes in the big win. Displaying once again how consistent he is, the versatile forward has now scored 13 or more points in all 13 of Eastern Washington's games this season in averaging 19.4 points per game. After breaking their 3 game losing streak, the Eagles do not play again until 2015 when they open their Big Sky Conference schedule against Weber State.
— EWU Athletics (@EWUAthletics) December 23, 2014
Team of the Week
Worthy of a mention are Boise State who have continued to win despite the absences of Anthony Drmic and Nick Duncan due to injury, however this week's award came down to two America East teams; Hartford and Albany. It was hard to ignore the Great Danes who are now on a 3 game winning streak thanks to the outstanding play of their Australian version of the dynamic duo Peter Hooley and Sam Rowley.
With the Great Danes trailing Yale by 8 points with just under 14 minutes left in the game, Hooley stepped it up to score 9 straight points to tie the game at 56. Behind Hooley's drive, Albany were then able to hold off Yale to prevail 64-60 to win their second in a row, the first time they have won back-to-back games this season. The other half of Albany's Aussie 'dynamic duo', Rowley notched his 5th consecutive game in double-digits with 15 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists and 4 steals. After a quiet first half, Hooley completed the game with 13 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 steal. The Aussie duo both scored 11 second half points to help drive Albany to the win.
Albany then won their 3rd game in a row after dispatching Fairfield 77-66 at home in New York. Although they led throughout the game, the Great Danes surged ahead in the second half to earn a convincing win behind the dynamic duo of Hooley and Sam Rowley yet again. Hooley bagged 19 points with 2 rebounds, 5 assists and 1 steal, appearing to have found his groove this season. Just as good was Sam Rowley, chipping in 14 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 blocks. Even the younger Mike Rowley got in on the action, contributing 4 points, 2 rebounds, 2 steals and 1 blocked shot in 18 serviceable minutes off the bench. Improving to a 5-6 record, the Great Danes next take on Niagara before opening America East conference play in the New Year.
Best of the Rest
Saint Mary's began their week with a trip to #20 ranked St. Johns and started off strongly as they opened up a 15 point half time lead. However it was a game two halves, and St. John's rallied to edge away for a 53-47 home win. Offensively, it was the Gael's worst game of the season with only one player scoring in double-digits while collectively they shot just 35.3% from the field and an even worse 16.7% from beyond the arc. One shining light was the continued rise of sophomore forward Dane Pineau, who although scored just 6 points (2/5 FG), he also posted 11 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 blocked shot in being elevated to the starting line-up. He almost played the hero too, converting on a three-point play to make it 48-47 late in the game. Freshman Emmett Naar was held scoreless for the first time his in short career, however he chimed in with 3 rebounds, 5 assists and 1 steal in a season-low 27 minutes. It was the second straight loss for Saint Mary's.
In a character building display, the Gael's bounced back to win a thrilling 72-68 overtime win over Northeastern at McKeon Pavilion. Freshman big man Jock Landale provided an invaluable contribution off the bench with a new career-high 9 points with 1 rebound in just 9 minutes. Pineau played just 10 minutes due to foul trouble but still posted 2 points, 2 rebounds and 1 assist. Freshman sensation Naar did not play after rolling his ankle in practice but is expected to be back for their next game. The 7-3 Gael's now look to open their West Coast Conference play with games against Santa Clara and San Francisco before the year is out.
Taking on the might of #10 ranked Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse, Lafayette came away with a respectable 69-96 outcome. Dan Trist was rock solid with 12 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal and 3 ,blocks in 27 minutes. He helped the Leopards remain in touch early in the second half when he connected on three straight jumpers from the top of the key. the loss broke a 4 game winning streak, however with a 7-3 overall record the Leopards would be happy, largely due to the performance of Trist who is posting career-best figures of 16.5 points on 59.5% shooting and 58 rebounds per game. Trist has scored 12 or more points in all but 1 game this season to date. The Leopards have games to come against NJIT and then Army to open Patriot League conference play and draw a close to 2014.
I was lucky enough to chat with Trist on Melbourne's SEN 1116 sports radio show The Flag Flyers earlier this week (interview starts from 24:36).
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In a massive win over Abilene Christian College, Boise State's Anthony Drmic missed his 4th straight game with a back injury while Nick Duncan also sat out due to injuring his ankle in practice, watching from the sidelines with his right foot in a boot. With his compatriots sitting on the sidelines, Igor Hadziomerovic once again started and contributed 2 pouts, 1 rebound and 1 assist in just 17 minutes as the bench got a good run in a 77-33 landslide win. It was the lowest even score the Broncos have held an opponent to in school history.
With Drmic and Duncan still on the sidelines, the Broncos would collect their 6th straight win courtesy of a 75-73 overtime win against Houston in the Las Vegas Classic. With just 45 seconds left in the extra period, Hadziomerovic stole the ball and made the fast break bucket to edge his team ahead for good. Enjoying his time back in the starting line-up, the 6'4" guard added 11 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal and 1 block in 35 minutes.
In the final of the Las Vegas Classic against Loyola (IL), Duncan returned to action and was immediately inserted back into the starting line-up alongside Hadziomerovic. After Loyola gained an early ascendancy, the Broncos closed out the first half on a 17-4 run to open up a 5 point lead. However they would come undone in the second half in which they scored just 18 points to Loyola's 26. Duncan had a chance to send the game into overtime, but his attempted 3-pointer fell short with just 2 seconds left. He would finish the game with just 5 points on a paltry 1/10 shooting with 3 rebounds and 1 steal in 29 minutes. Adding 7 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals in 25 minutes was Hadziomerovic. Boise State's 6 game winning streak was broken ahead of their New Year's Eve game against #24 ranked Colorado State.
Nick Duncan - Courtesy Boise State Athletics
Taking on in-state rivals for the second time this season, New Mexico came away with two wins after accounting for New Mexico State 69-67. While he continued to lead by example, Hugh Greenwood's shooting woes were back as he went just 2/10 from the field and 1/6 from downtown. He ended up posting 5 points, 7 rebounds and 2 assists in 35 minutes, yet he and the Lobos would love to rediscover his ability to make shots, especially with back court partner Cullen Neal still sidelined due to injury.
In Phoenix, the Lobos took on the Dan Majerle coached Grand Canyon. Despite a game-high 20 points with 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal and 2 blocks from Greenwood, New Mexico came up on the wrong end of a 65-68 result. It was a game of lead changes, with the Antelopes edging ahead when it mattered the most and able to stay in front for good when Greenwood threw an errant pass that was picked off. For Grand Canyon, sophomore guard Sam Daly came off the bench for 3 rebounds and 1 assist in 14 minutes. With their 5 game winning streak broken, the Lobos open Mountain West Conference play against Fresno State next week, while Grand Canyon still have two more games before the end of the year against Abilene Christian and Harvard.
Hartford heads into Christmas on a winning note thanks to an 82-69 win over Florida International. Junior guard Taylor Dyson scorched his way to 14 points including 4 triples in the first 4 minutes of the game, helping the Hawks to jump out the blocks to lead 21-8 after less than 7 minutes. With a 11 point lead at half time, Hartford closed the game out the game to earn an 82-69 win. Dyson only played 23 minutes for his 16 points and 3 rebounds while senior guard Corban Wroe was his consistent self in compiling 13 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 steal in 35 minutes. Their next challenge will be against current #21 ranked Notre Dame to close out 2014.
And some other news and individual efforts mentioning in closing out this week's recap;
Idaho State lost to Cal State Bakersfield 50-59 despite a new career-high 10 points with 3 rebounds and 3 assists from senior guard Ben Wilson.
Freshman forward Xavier Cooks piled on a new career-high 17 points on 7/8 shooting alongside 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal and 3 blocks as Winthrop defeated Reinhardt (NAIA) 100-72.
In Montana's 62-67 loss to South Dakota, freshman forward Fabijan Krslovic added career-high's of 8 points and 9 rebounds with 1 assist and 1 steal in 23 minutes of action.
Sophomore guard Jaryd Eustace scored a season-best 9 points with 4 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal as Miami (OH) lost to #21 Ohio State 55-93. Team mate Joshua Oswald had 2 points, 2 rebounds and 1 assist.
Baylor who features Australian Deng Deng has moved into the top 25 national rankings at #22 this week. Deng had 4 points, 2 rebounds and 1 block in 10 minutes in the Bears most recent 70-66 win over Southern.
Sophomore Mangok Mathiang had his best game in week's, posting 6 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals and 4 blocked shots in #4 ranked Louisville's 80-55 dismantling of Cal State Northridge.