Three of the twelve Australians have survived the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament, with Kristy Wallace and Baylor moving into the Sweet 16, whilst Alanna Smith (Stanford) and Rachel Antoniadou (Florida State) are each a win away from doing the same. Meanwhile in the Women’s NIT, 7 Australians in six teams still remain in with a shot at taking home the silverware.
Kristy Wallace was the best-performed of the Australians in the first week of the NCAA Tournament as Baylor cruised into the Sweet 16 on the back of two comprehensive victories. Wallace scored 13 points, shooting 5/9 from the field, whilst also contributing 4 rebounds and 3 assists in the Lady Bears’ 89-59 rout of Aussie-laden Idaho. Geraldine McCorkell contributed 8 points for the Vandals in the loss and early exit. Wallace was used more sparingly in Baylor’s 84-52 defeat of Auburn in the second round, contributing just 3 points and again tallying 4 rebounds and 3 assists.
Courtney Wilkins was an unexpected leader for Buffalo, but the Bulls went down 88-69 to #3 seed Ohio State in the first round. Wilkins hit 4/7 from beyond the arc on her way to 14 points and 6 rebounds. All four Aussies contributed for Buffalo, with Liisa Ups scoring 5 points, Katherine Ups contributing 4 points, and Stephanie Reid tallying 2 points for the Bulls in the loss and tournament exit.
Alanna Smith saw herself in a bit of foul trouble in Stanford’s convincing 85-58 win over local foe San Francisco, but was still able to contribute in her 14 minutes of action. The freshman shot 4/6 from the field for 9 points, but picked up four fouls in that short period on court, which no doubt limited her playing time.
It was an unfortunately low-key ending to Ashleigh Karaitiana’s college career as Hawaii were unable to spring the upset against UCLA. Needing the deep ball to fall to stand a chance against the Bruins, Hawaii could only hit 4/23 for the game, with Karaitiana shooting 0-5 from beyond the arc. Connecting on just 20% from the field for the game, Hawaii succumbed to a 66-50 defeat.
Florida State cruised to a 72-55 victory over Middle Tennessee State, but Rachel Antoniadou saw only a token minute or so of time when the game was already well and truly decided. The Seminoles’ starters got the job done with little help required from the bench at all, scoring 55 of the side’s points, equal to Middle Tennessee State’s final score.
Nicole Seekamp and Jasmine Trimboli quickly put their Summit League tournament disappointment behind them to set the first two rounds alight. Up against Creighton in their first round game, Seekamp gave a solid performance, scoring 15 points whilst also dishing out 6 assists and picking up 3 steals. Trimboli also scored 10 points of her own as the Coyotes managed to see off the Bluejays, 74-68.
South Dakota’s win saw them take on Minnesota in the second round, which brought it with it a blockbuster match-up between Seekamp and the Golden Gophers’ superstar Rachel Banham. Banham finished the game with a massive 37 point haul, but Seekamp would have the last laugh. The Australian scored 18 points, including her 2000th for South Dakota, but her 14 assists were arguably more impressive, setting up team-mates for shots almost at will as the Coyotes ran out 101-89 winners. Trimboli again finished in double figures, scoring 14 points. Jessie Edwards finished with 5 points and 6 assists for Minnesota, being used in a greater capacity than she had been in the side’s first round win over Milwaukee.
Oregon won their first round matchup against Long Beach State, with Jacinta Vandenberg getting a start and contributing at both ends. In an 84-76 win, the center shot an almost perfect 6 of 7 from the field for 13 points and also tallied 3 blocks in an impressive performance. The win sets up a second-round match-up against Vandenberg’s former team, Fresno State. The Bulldogs won their first round game against Santa Clara 59-53, although Anais Kirvan did not see any playing time in the win.
Gonzaga were handed one of the easier draws in the first round of the NIT, facing off against UC Riverside. The Zags were rarely troubled in a comprehensive 88-54 victory, with UC Riverside spending less than a minute leading the game early on before Gonzaga pulled away midway through the first quarter. Georgia Stirton started and played 18 minutes in the win, tallying 7 points and 4 assists as the senior was rested slightly in a relatively easy match for the Zags.
Virginia Tech, playing in their first postseason since 2007, ensured their stay in the NIT would not be a one-and-done affair. In a see-sawing match against Elon, the Hokies were unable to shake their less-fancied opponents until late in the fourth quarter to pull away for a 68-59 win, but not before several lead changes. With Rachel Camp leading the way with 29 points, Hannah Young tacked on 11 for the Hokies, including two clutch threes, one either side of the final break, helping push the score out to 51-42 after Elon had cut the lead to a solitary point. The first-up win brought about a game against Ohio, one of the “First Four Out” of the the NCAA Tournament. Young again notched double-figures for the Hokies, scoring 10 points, but Ohio controlled the game from the outset. The Bobcats won the first quarter 20-12 and never relented, building a 12 point lead before running out 64-57 victors.
NCAA Tournament Second Round
#4 Florida State vs #5 Texas A&M (Rachel Antoniadou) #12 South Dakota State vs #4 Stanford (Alanna Smith)
NCAA Tournament Sweet 16
#1 Baylor vs #4 Florida State or #5 Texas A&M (Kristy Wallace and possibly Rachel Antoniadou)
Tennessee-Martin vs Western Kentucky (Chelsea Roberts)
Utah v Gonzaga (Georgia Stirton)
Fresno State vs Oregon (Anais Kirvan and Jacinta Vandenberg)
San Diego vs Michigan (Tayla Hepburn)
Northern Iowa vs South Dakota (Nicole Seekamp, Jasmine Trimboli)