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Holly MacKenzie

Naismith Notes: Edwards and Nembhard starring in March, Canadian Pacers make history

- Ryan Nembhard was relegated to the sidelines last March, recovering from surgery on his wrist after getting injured weeks before the Men's 2022 NCAA Tournament began. This time around, he's healthy, he's in uniform and he’s making his mark on college basketball’s biggest month of the year. Nembhard dropped a career-high 30 points as he led No. 6 seeded Creighton in an 85-76 upset victory over No. 3 seed Baylor on Saturday.

Nembhard was 8-for-13 from the floor, including 4-for-6 from beyond the three-point line and a perfect 10-for-10 from the free throw line in 38 minutes. He added two rebounds, two assists and two steals as the Bluejays built a double-digit lead in the first half and went on to victory from there.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">🌧️🌧️R2 can’t miss tonight <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#GoJays</a> x <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MarchMadness</a> <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Creighton Men’s Basketball (@BluejayMBB) <a href="">March 20, 2023</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

The 6-foot sophomore from Aurora, Ontario has waited all year for his first taste of the tournament. He wasn’t about to take it for granted.

“The rim felt a little bit bigger tonight,” he said about his career night. Up next for the Bluejays will be a meeting against No. 15 seed Princeton on Friday night and last season's Big East Freshman of the Year is just getting started.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Every game it&#39;s a different player<br>Congrats on a career high game R2 👏<a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#GoJays</a> x <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MarchMadness</a> <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Creighton Men’s Basketball (@BluejayMBB) <a href="">March 20, 2023</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

- While Nembhard was making headlines in the men’s tournament, Aaliyah Edwards continued to shine in the women’s tournament. Like Nembhard, Edwards dropped a career-high this week, scoring 28 points in UConn’s 95-52 rout of Vermont on Saturday. The 20-year-old scored 12 points in the opening quarter, helping the Huskies build a 27-12 lead after the opening 10 minutes of play.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Shout out to Kingston native Aaliyah Edwards 🇨🇦<br><br>Career-high 28 PTS on 13-15 shooting 😯 <br>7 REB<br>5 AST<br>4 STL<br>2 BLK<br><br>Leading UConn to the 2nd round of the NCAA Women’s tourney 👏<a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Tim and Friends (@timandfriends) <a href="">March 18, 2023</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

Edwards was a scorching 13-for-15 from the floor in the victory while adding seven rebounds, five assists, four steals and two blocked shots, dominating every aspect of the game in her 29 minutes of action.

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After following up Saturday’s win with a victory against Baylor on Monday, UConn advanced to the Sweet 16 where they will face No. 3 seed Ohio State on Friday at 4 p.m. ET.

- Laeticia Amihere has been delivering highlight reel worthy blocks all season, and that hasn't changed in the tournament. Check out Amihere’s work on both ends of the floor after she follows up a stifling block in the fourth quarter of South Carolina’s 76-45 blowout victory against the South Florida Bulls on Sunday by running the floor and getting the layup on the other end. 

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="ca" dir="ltr">LAETICIA AMIHERE SENT THIS 🚫 <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; espnW (@espnW) <a href="">March 19, 2023</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

Up next for undefeated South Carolina is a meeting with No. 4 seed UCLA on Friday at 2 p.m. ET.

- Zach Edey’s historic junior season has come to an end. The Purdue Boilermakers have fallen in the first round of the men’s tournament this year, but even in defeat, Edey was fantastic, finishing with a 21-point, 15-rebound double-double while adding three blocked shots. Though Edey’s time in the tournament is up, his incredible 2022-23 season won’t soon be forgotten as the 7-foot-4 big man was already named the Men's National Player of the Year by the Sporting News, as well as Big 10 Player of the Year. En route to these awards, Edey became the first player in NCAA history to record 750 points, 400 rebounds, 70 blocks and 50 assists in a single season.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">🏅 <a href="">@zach_edey</a> is a finalist for the <a href="">@NaismithTrophy</a> Player of the Year. <br><br>✅: First-team Consensus All-American<br>✅: Sporting News NPOY<br>✅: Big Ten POY<br><br>📈: First player in NCAA history with 750 points, 400 rebounds, 70 blocks, 50 assists in a season. <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Purdue Men&#39;s Basketball (@BoilerBall) <a href="">March 21, 2023</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

- In NBA action, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continues to push the Oklahoma City Thunder to new heights. After dropping 40 points in a 124-120 win against the Phoenix Suns on Sunday, the 24-year-old All-Star had 31 points, seven rebounds and four assists in a 101-100 thriller against the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday that went down to the final buzzer. Fellow Canadian Lu Dort prevented Kawhi Leonard from getting a shot attempt off in the final possession of the game, protecting the Thunder victory. 

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Lu Dort seals the Thunder win on a TOUGH defensive possession.<br><br>Lockdown 🔒 <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; NBA (@NBA) <a href="">March 22, 2023</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

This career-best season for Gilgeous-Alexander – he’s averaging 31.4 points, 4.8 rebounds and 5.5 assists – has the Thunder within a half-game of sixth place in a packed Western Conference. Sportsnet’s Michael Grange profiled Gilgeous-Alexander’s rise this season through the lens of Canada Basketball legend Steve Nash. For what it’s worth, Nash himself weighed in on the discourse. He’s rolling with Shai.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Yes he can! LOVE Shai’s game <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Steve Nash (@SteveNash) <a href="">March 16, 2023</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

- The Indiana Pacers were in Toronto on Wednesday to take on the Raptors in Canada Basketball Night at Scotiabank Arena. Prior to the game, Indiana’s trio of Canadians, Oshae Brissett, Andrew Nembhard and Bennedict Mathurin, took some time to reflect on what it means to be playing in the NBA in front of family and friends at home.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Andrew Nembhard, Bennedict Mathurin and Oshae Brissett share what it means to them to play in their home country of Canada.🇨🇦<br><br>“Came to a bunch of games when I was younger sitting at the top of the top. Now I’ll get to play on the court. Pretty cool.” - Andrew Nembhard <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) <a href="">March 22, 2023</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

It was a great homecoming for the trio as the Pacers defeated the Raptors 118-114 behind a 25-point, 10-assist double-double from Andrew Nembhard who all but iced the win with a stepback three-pointer to put Indiana ahead by seven with 33 seconds remaining. Nembhard was 11-for-17 from the floor, including 3-for-5 from three. 

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Andrew Nembhard is CLUTCH!👌<br><br>he drills the three to extend the Pacers lead. <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) <a href="">March 23, 2023</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

Mathurin added 15 points in the win, while Brissett scored nine points with two of them coming off of a thunderous slam.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">CANADA IS ON THE MAP! 🇨🇦<br><br>🗣️ <a href="">@AndrewNembhard</a> and <a href="">@BennMathurin</a> sound off following their first NBA game in Canada. <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; NBA Canada (@NBACanada) <a href="">March 23, 2023</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

- Jamal Murray had a 25-point, eight-assist performance in a 108-102 Denver Nuggets victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday. Murray was 9-for-19 from the floor and a perfect 4-for-4 from beyond the arc as he helped the Nuggets hold on to their top spot in the Western Conference. The Kitchener native is averaging 20.1 points, 3.9 rebounds and 6.1 assists in his sixth NBA season.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">The town (and hill) that built Jamal Murray.<a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Katy Winge (@katywinge) <a href="">March 14, 2023</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

- Before you pull up the NCAA schedules to memorize this week’s NCAA men’s and women’s tournament games, some exciting Canadian hoops news to look forward to: We may be in the middle of March Madness, but July will be here before we know it and with it comes another year of GLOBL JAM in Toronto. Canada Basketball and Sportsnet announced the return of the international basketball showcase to Mattamy Athletic Centre, July 12-16.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">GLOBL JAM IS RETURNING TO TORONTO ‼️<br><br>Canada Basketball &amp; <a href="">@Sportsnet</a> will host the return of GLOBL JAM, a world-class international basketball showcase, at Mattamy Athletic Centre in Toronto from July 12-16!<br><br>🗞️🎟️: <a href=""></a> <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Canada Basketball (@CanBball) <a href="">March 22, 2023</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

Last year's GLOBL JAM MVP -- and gold medal winner -- Aaliyah Edwards is pretty excited, too.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Get yours before they gone. Show some love❤ 🇨🇦 vs 🌏 <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SeeTheRise</a> <a href="">@CanBball</a> <a href="">@lapevic</a> <a href="">@Sportsnet</a> <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Aaliyah Edwards (@AaliyahEdwards_) <a href="">March 23, 2023</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>