Aussies still dancing as NCAA tournament hits sweet 16

Share this article

Through two rounds, the men’s and women’s NCAA tournaments now enter the Sweet 16 with several Australians still dancing.


Chloe Bibby
The Mississippi State Bulldogs have flexed their muscle through the first two rounds, following a surprise one-point loss in the Southeastern Conference final. They took care of Nicholls 95-50 and Bibby came off the bench for two points and four rebounds in six minutes. The Bulldogs then found themselves trailing at quarter-time of the second round against Oklahoma State but that deficit did not last long as they came up with a 15-point victory in the end.

They now take on NC State in the Round of 16 and a third straight win could set up a clash with Chantel Horvat’s UCLA in the Elite Eight.

Round of 16 Opponent: NC State on Saturday (Australia time)

Chantel Horvat
UCLA got off to the perfect start with a 15-point lead at quarter-time in their first round match-up with the American Eagles but they had to fight off a comeback before eventually prevailing by 11 points. The Bruins had no such trouble against Creighton a few days later, succeeding by 22 and as the number three seed, they now take on the number two seed in Texas.

Horvat has seen limited court time so far in the NCAA tournament but hopefully can get some extended minutes should UCLA advance further and face Bibby and the Bulldogs in the Elite Eight.

Round of 16 Opponent: Texas Longhorns on Saturday (Australia time)

Anneli Maley
The Ducks have been dominant so far through the NCAA tournament as one of only five teams to crack the century mark while owning an average winning margin of 35.5 points. Unfortunately, that included knocking fellow Aussie Jessie Edwards out when they defeated Minnesota in the second round but Oregon have big plans as they face Central Michigan, the number 11 seed, next.

Maley has continued her streak of featuring in every game this season, tallying seven points on 3-4 shooting with three rebounds and an assist against Minnesota.

Round of 16 Opponent: Central Michigan Chippewas on Sunday (Australian time)

Stephanie Reid
Buffalo’s incredible post-season run marches on after they recorded their first ever NCAA tournament victory in the first round, beating South Florida 102-79. They did it just as easily in the second round against Florida State with an 86-65 win and they are now the equal-lowest ranked team still dancing.

Reid has been spectacular for the Bulls, helping them come back against South Florida when they found themselves trailing by 11 points in the first half. She scored six points during a 20-7 run heading into the main break and finished with 19 points, two rebounds, eight assists and two steals before backing up with 18 points on 6-12 shooting and two assists in the second round.

Round of 16 Opponent: South Carolina Gamecocks on Sunday (Australian time)

Alanna Smith
Stanford have reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament for the 11th straight year however they have not claimed the Championship since 1992. Smith is on a mission for that to change in 2018 after leading them through the first two games with an average of 24 points, nine rebounds, one assist, 1.5 steals and 2.5 blocks while recording a double-double in the second round against the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles.

She has shown her ability to score from anywhere, shooting 19-34 (56%) overall and 7-13 (54%) from long range but her defensive work is just as important to Stanford as she has recorded a third of the team’s blocks so far. Their biggest challenge lies ahead of them as they take on the number one seed Lousiville.

Round of 16 Opponent: Louisville Cardinals on Saturday (Australian time)

Jack White
White did not see a heap of court time during the regular season and while that has not changed so far in the NCAA tournament, he did collect three rebounds and an assist in their opening round win before hitting the scoreboard and adding another assist in the second round.

Duke have done it easy so far with an average winning margin of 23.5 points and their next opponent is only an 11th seed which will give them confidence that they can keep the run going.

Round of 16 Opponent: Syracuse Orange on Saturday (Australian time)

Courtney Wilkins
Playing alongside Reid for the Buffalo Bulls, Wilkins saw her team struggling in their first round match-up against South Florida. Trailing 18-29 in the second term, Wilkins came off the bench to spark a 20-7 run to end the half, scoring eight points herself on her way to 23 points overall. The Aussie drilled 5-8 from downtown and was perfect from the free-throw line on 4-4 shooting while also recording three rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block in 27 minutes.

The following game her expertise were not as required with Wilkins only playing six minutes for three points and a steal but South Carolina will be wary of her heading into the Sweet 16 as she can catch fire and turn a game in an instant.

Round of 16 Opponent: South Carolina Gamecocks on Sunday (Australian time)

Katherine Ups
Ups has been in and out of the starting line-up but looks to now be entrenched as a critical member of Buffalo’s top five as they make a serious charge in the NCAA tournament.

She has played an average of 35 minutes while impacting both ends of the floor to record 9.5 points, four boards, one assist and one block across their two contests so far. Her defensive work on the perimeter has also been key to the Bulls’ victories, helping restrict their opponents to 21% shooting from the three-point line with Buffalo +27 from distance overall.

Round of 16 Opponent: South Carolina Gamecocks on Sunday (Australian time)

Liisa Ups
The fourth member of the Aussie contingent within the Buffalo line-up, Ups has seen the least amount of court time but will still be enjoying the historic ride that this team is taking.

They face a serious challenge in the Round of 16 against the number two seeded South Carolina but all the pressure will be on the Gamecocks and the Bulls have proven they are fearless this season.

Round of 16 Opponent: South Carolina Gamecocks on Sunday (Australian time)


Maddy Dennis
Averaging 3.7 points per game this season, Dennis only played two minutes in the first round for the Flyers as her court time diminished in the past month of her third year. Dayton struggled against Marquette, falling by 19 points in the end without winning a quarter.

Jessie Edwards
In a back-and-forth affair against Green Bay in the first round, Minnesota found themselves down by ten at half-time after leading by five points at the first break. They trimmed the deficit to five at three-quarter time though and then ran over the top of the Phoenix with a 30-13 final term. Edwards played 30 minutes off the bench and had half of the team’s offensive rebounds, finishing with 12 points, nine boards (five offensive) and a block. She shot 4-5 from the field to cap an efficient performance and then was just as effective offensively against Oregon with six points on 3-4 shooting in 13 minutes. However, the Golden Gophers could not pull off another comeback as Maley and the Ducks beat them by 28 points.

Jacob Epperson
While a knee injury bothered Epperson through the season, he did get healthy at the right time of the year and was able to contribute in Creighton’s ten-point first round loss to Kansas State with two points, one rebound and a block in 13 minutes off the bench.

Gorjok Gak
Florida dealt with St. Bonaventure in the first round, winning by 15 points but they fell in heartbreaking fashion a few days later to Texas Tech. Leading 50-49 halfway through the second period, the Gators could not stop their opposition going on a 9-0 run and while they tied the game inside the final three minutes, Texas Tech had the momentum and ran out three-point victors. Gak finished with three boards and a block in that contest after tallying three rebounds and a steal in the first round.

Fabijan Krslovic
With just seven players hitting the court and a clash against the number three seed Michigan Wolverines, Montana had their back against the wall in the first round. They fought valiantly but fell by 14 points, only managing to score 47 with Krslovic recording five points and three boards.

Tiana Mangakahia
For the season that she had, Managakahia deserved to go deeper into the NCAA Tournament but Syracuse could not keep pace with Oklahoma State, falling behind by eight points at half-time before a 9-27 third term proved to be the nail in the coffin. Managakahia struggled from the field, shooting 3-14 but still came close to a triple-double with seven points, eight rebounds, seven assists and a steal.

Kouat Noi
TCU’s famed defence was on show in the first round again against Syracuse and with less than three minutes remaining, they only trailed the Orange by one. Noi finished with seven points and two rebounds including two three-pointers but the Horned Frogs could not find the bottom of the basket down the stretch as Syracuse finished the game on a 8-2 run to end TCU’s season.

Keanu Pinder
After finishing first in the Pac-12 Conference with a 27-7 record and entering the NCAA Tournament as a fourth seed, Arizona came crashing back to Earth as they were taken down by Buffalo, 68-89. Pinder had an effective game off the bench, collecting six points without missing a shot, two rebounds, one assist and one steal in just 13 minutes.

Jordan Smith
As the 16th seed, CSU Northridge faced a big challenge against number one seed Notre Dame and found themselves down by 23 points at half-time. They never gave in, trimming the final deficit to 18 but Smith only played three minutes in her last game of the season.

Dejan Vasiljevic
March Madness always throws up memorable highlights and unfortunately, Vasiljevic and the Miami Hurricanes were victims of a last second buzzer-beater from the logo as they fell to Loyola, 62-64. Vasiljevic spent 22 minutes on court during the contest, recording nine points, five rebounds and an assist while knocking down a three to finish with a mark of 41% from beyond the arc overall.