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Canada basketball
Holly MacKenzie

March Madness: Canadian Highlights From the First Weekend


Mar 26, 2024

One week in the books, and the Canadian NCAA hoops action is just getting started. From a 30-point, 21-rebound double-double from Zach Edey to kick things off in a blowout victory for the Purdue Boilermakers on Friday to a 20 and-10 night for Aaliyah Edwards in Uconn’s first win of the tournament, Canadians have been making their mark on the Men’s and Women’s NCAA Tournaments this year. 

The duo continued to keep things rolling through the weekend. Edwards followed up her Friday appearance with 11 points, 11 rebounds, three assists and two blocks in UConn’s second tournament victory, outlasting Syracuse 72-64 on Monday. Edey continued to dominate, scoring 23 points with 13 rebounds, three assists, three blocked shots and two steals in a 106-67 blowout against Utah State on Sunday. 

Edwards came into the tournament averaging 17.8 points and 9.4 rebounds per game in her senior season for the Huskies. Before the tournament, she announced on her Instagram account that she would enter the WNBA draft at the conclusion of this season.

Edey began the tournament fresh off of Purdue, surprising him by retiring his jersey on senior night. The 7-foot-4 Toronto native has set numerous records in his four years with the program, swept all six Player of the Year awards last season and averaged 24.5 points, 12.1 rebounds and 2.3 blocks in his senior season this year.

Edwards and No. 3 seeded UConn will face No. 7 seeded Duke in the Sweet Sixteen on Saturday, March 30 at 8 p.m. ET.

Gonzaga Bulldogs senior Yvonne Ejim also had an opening weekend to remember, leading the Bulldogs to a 75-56 win against UC Irvine with a 25-point, 14-rebound double-double on Saturday and then contributing 17 points and 13 rebounds in a 77-66 Gonzaga win against the Utah Utes. Ejim came into the tournament averaging 20 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game.

Staying with the Bulldogs, Ryan Nembhard dished his way to two victories this past weekend. He finished with eight points and nine assists in the team’s opener. Nembhard, who is sixth in the nation in assists, averaging 6.9 per game this season, followed up with a 12-assist performance in Gonzaga’s 89-68 upset of No. 4 seed Kansas on Saturday. After his last game, Nembhard became the single-season assists leader for Gonzaga in his first season with the program.

Nembhard and the men’s team will face Edey and the Boilermakers on Friday, Mar. 29, at 7:40 p.m. ET, while Ejim and the women’s team will take on No. 1 seed Texas on Friday at 10 p.m. ET.

Brampton, Ontario native Jaden Campbell scored 18 points, including five three-pointers, for the Samford Bulldogs, but it wasn’t enough to advance. The 13th-ranked Bulldogs fell to the 4th-ranked Kansas Jayhawks 93-89 in the first round of the tournament.

Emanuel Sharp, born in Tampa, Florida, but has ties to Canada, was explosive in a 100-95 overtime victory for the Houston Cougars over Texas A&M to advance to the Sweet Sixteen on Monday. Sharp finished with 30 points, including the three-pointer to open overtime, giving Houston a lead they would not relinquish en route to victory. Sharp’s 30 points were a game-high, and they came on 8-for-16 shooting as he connected on 7-of-14 attempts from beyond the arc, nearly matching Texas A&M’s total as a team (8) all by himself.

The Cougars will take on Duke in the Sweet Sixteen on Friday night at 9:40 p.m. ET. For updates on all Canadians participating in March Madness, visit our website.