Senior big man Mason Peatling is the best performed Australian in division I men's basketball this season. Period.
Sure, Arizona freshman Josh Green is a possible 2020 NBA Draft lottery pick. Dejan Vasiljevic has been lighting it up for Miami in a very strong ACC. But Peatling continues to deliver big game after big game to help position Eastern Washington at the top of the Big Sky Conference standings and a possible run toward an NCAA Tournament berth in 2020.
Peatling's dominance of the Big Sky continued this week, with the senior forward turning in massive games in wins against Sacramento State and Northern Arizona on his way to picking up a third Big Sky Player of the Week award. The 6'8 Victorian averaged 27.5 points, 12.5 rebounds, 6 assists and 1 steal per across the two games this week, shooting 66.7% from the field, with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 12:2.
In a nail-biting 77-76 win against Sacramento State, Peatling amassed 28 points (11-16 FG), 10 rebounds and 6 assists, draining 4 of 6 from beyond the three-point arc. Her received great support from fellow Aussie Jack Perry who chimed in with 7 points and 8 assists for the Eagles who staved off a furious late-game challenge to hold on for ther 1 point win.
The Eagles then backed up with an 80-70 victory over Northern Arizona, with Peatling the man leading the way again. This time he piled on 27 points (11-17 FG), 15 rebounds and 6 assists for a second straight double-double, and ninth across his past 11 games.
"Mason is unbelievable," praised Eastern Washington head coach Shantay Legans. "And he has a chance to be an Academic All-American with a 4.0 grade point average as graduate student. You would be hard-pressed to find a better student-athlete in the country with what Mason is doing right now. It's amazing and fun to watch him play, and eventually it will be fun to see his professional career take off."
Dejan Vasiljevic was one of four Miami Hurricane players to score in double figures, but it was not enough to get over the line against Notre Dame. The Hurricanes three-game winning streak came to an end in the 71-87 loss, with Vasiljevic adding 12 points and 2 rebounds. Miami will now most likely have to win the ACC Tournament to earn a berth in the NCAA Tournament in what is Vasiljevic's last chance with the Hurricanes.
Lachlan Anderson continued his fine senior year with Eastern Kentucky this week, albeit coming in a tough 70-83 loss to Belmont. The 6'9 forward from Sydney would shoot 6 of 8 from the field which included an impressive 3 of 5 from downtown on his way to 15 points. He also chimed in with 4 rebounds and 2 steals, with the loss all but consigning the Colonels to fourth place in the Ohio Valley Conference.
Providing an offensive spark off the bench, Jamie Ahale helped Illinois-Chicago to a second straight win in accounting for IUPUI 77-72. With the rest of his team shooting a combined 1 of 11 from three-point territory, Ahale would go against the trend. The 6'5 guard from Melbourne was on fire, scorching the net with a perfect 5 of 5 from long distance to finish with a scintillating 15 points in 19 minutes on court. The victory ensured UIC would pull level in third place in the Horizon League standings, and with games against lowly Detroit and Oakland to come, have every chance of securing that spot outright with two more wins.
A come-from-behind 75-74 victory against Binghampton saw Hartford leap into third place in the America East standings with just two in-conference games to play. Finding themselves trailing 2-26 to open the game, the Hawks first worked their way back into the game before stealing the win in the dying seconds, with Victorian Hunter Marks playing a leading role. The sophomore forward delivered his second double-double of the season, adding 11 points with a career-high 14 rebounds in the victory.
Freshman Keli Leaupepe turned it on for Loyola Marymount in games against Saint Mary's and Portland this week. Against the Gaels, Leaupepe contributed 15 points and 7 rebounds to bring the Lions within reach of an upset. However senior wing Tanner Krebs added 10 points for Saint Mary's who would hold up at the charity stripe down the stretch to come away with a 57-51 win. Leaupepe's performance was but an entree for what was yet to come.
LMU would power their way past Portland 66-58 thanks to a career-night from Leaupepe. The 6'6 forward would dominate against the Pilots, shooting 8 of 12 from the field and a perfect 7 of 7 from the free throw line on his way to logging a new career-best 25 points. He also pulled down 7 rebounds, as he ensured the Lions secured the eighth and last remaining spot in the WCC Tournament.
Freshman sensation Josh Green led number 24 ranked Arizona to a commanding 89-63 victory against Oregon State, extending their winning streak to four games and avenging their loss to the Beavers earlier in the season. Renown for his defensive prowess, Green showed off his improving ability to be a consistent scorer, shooting 7 of 11 from the fielding including 2 of 3 from beyond the three-point arc for a game-high 18 points. He also gathered 4 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 steals and 1 block to cap off a stellar performance.
The Wildcats had to back up against number 14 ranked Oregon in what proved to be an overtime thriller. Two missed free throws by Green with 2.5 seconds left in regulation could have won Arizona the game, instead the game heading into an extra period. Oregon would edge their noses in front in extra time, with Arizona left to rue their abysmal 10 of 21 free throw shooting performance that ultimately cost them the game.
Green was far from the villain however, adding 9 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists in another strong all-round performance. Arizona is stuck in a log jam at the top of the Pac 12 standings, with just one game separating first and fifth as the conference tournament approaches.