Alanna Smith of Stanford University is the sole Australian representative left in the NCAA Division 1 tournament, competing in the Final Four this Saturday.
Alanna Smith (Stanford Cardinal)- Smith has remained one of Stanford’s most important players despite coming off the bench as they look ahead to a Final Four clash with South Carolina on Saturday. In the Sweet Sixteen game vs. Texas, the Aussie recorded ten points, seven rebounds and three assists to go with a steal and a block in a complete performance. She then proved the heroine in the Stanford Elite Eight victory, scoring the final four points and tallying a block inside the final 52 seconds as her school won a 76-75 thriller. In 33 minutes, Smith finished with 15 points on 7-10 shooting and seven boards, two steals and two rejections. The number two seed will now face the number one seed in South Carolina on Saturday in what is sure to be another nail-biter.
Jo Lual Acuil Jr. (Baylor Bears)- Despite Lual Acuil Jr.’s efficient night of nine points on 4-6 shooting and four rebounds, Baylor fell in the Sweet Sixteen to South Carolina who are now competing in the Final Four. Baylor only shot 30% as a team while the Gamecocks hit 46% from the field but Lucal Acuil Jr. held firm at the defensive end as well, collecting two steals and a block.
Gorjok Gak (Florida Gators)- Florida advanced to the Elite Eight with an incredible overtime win over Wisconsin with Chris Chiozza drilling a three-pointer that will go down in Gators history. They were unable to get past South Carolina in the next round with Gak playing sparing minutes off the bench. He tallied a total of six rebounds though, five of which came at the offensive end.
Isaac Humphries (Kentucky Wildcats)- Kentucky moved into the Elite Eight with a stirring victory against UCLA, putting together a 50-point second half to win by 11. Humphries played seven minutes in that contest and recorded a steal but proved essential in their clash with North Carolina. The forward played 21 minutes off the bench in his best game of the season, finishing with 12 points, five boards, one assist and a steal while showing his ability to score from inside and outside the paint. The Wildcats could not hold off the Tar Heels though, falling by two points despite hitting a go-ahead shot inside the final seven seconds in what was a heartbreaking finish for Kentucky.
Keanu Pinder (Arizona Wildcats)- March Madness is notorious for breaking hearts and Arizona also suffered a two-point loss to Xavier, unable to get their offence firing down the stretch of their Sweet Sixteen match-up. Pinder only played four minutes in the game, less than the consistent court time he had seen throughout the season.
Kristy Wallace (Baylor Bears)- Baylor kept up their dominance through the Sweet Sixteen, winning a third straight game by 30+ against Louisville on the back of a 25-9 opening term. Wallace hit two three-pointers to tally 12 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals in the win but the Bears’ run was cut short against Mississippi State in the next round. Leading with 22 seconds left in regulation, Baylor gave up a shot which took the game into overtime and from there, they were out-scored 10-19 despite the best efforts of Wallace who recorded nine points, four rebounds and four assists in her final game.
Jacinta Vandenberg (Oregon Ducks)- The Ducks had already taken care of number two seed Duke in the second round and number three seed Maryland proved only a slight obstacle in the Sweet Sixteen as they succeeded, 77-63. Their run finished in the Elite Eight though, proving no match for Connecticut in a 52-90 defeat. Vandenberg saw minutes in both contests off the bench but was unable to impact the scoreboard.
Morgan Yaeger (Oregon Ducks)- Yaegar racked up her first minutes of the post-season in Oregon’s loss to the Huskies, tallying an assist in three minutes before her dream of a Championship alongside Aussie Vandenberg came to an end.