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Canada Basketball

The Naismith Notes: Jamal Murray calls game

Jamal Murray was itching for a game-winner.

When the Denver Nuggets trailed the Portland Trail Blazers by two with 8.8 seconds on the clock, Murray was ready when big man Nikola Jokic told him to come get the ball. Knowing he had enough time to make his preferred move, Murray drilled a stepback three-pointer with 0.9 seconds remaining, lifting Denver to the 121-120 win on the road.

Murray had 21 points in the victory, shooting 8-for-21 from the floor to go along with five rebounds and eight assists. He shot just 3-for-10 from beyond the arc in the win, but is continuing to round into form after missing all of last season due to ACL rehabilitation.

“I told Jamal going into the season you have to learn it’s a process,'' Nuggets head coach Mike Malone said. “You’re going to be better in a month, Christmas, and postseason as you continue to get right. And [this game] is a nice step in that direction.”

Murray took another step in that direction on Saturday, scoring 30-points in a Nuggets 115-110 victory over the Utah Jazz. He shot 13-for-19 from the floor and added four rebounds and five assists. The 25-year-old sharpshooter is averaging 18.3 points, 3.7 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game in 30 minutes per game as he continues to work his way back, looking more like himself with each game he plays.

- It was a big week for NCAA career-highs among Canadians. Leading the way was Yvonne Ejim’s career-high 32-point performance in Gonzaga’s 73-49 blowout win against Queens University of Charlotte on Tuesday.

Ejim shot 13-for-17 from the floor, while adding seven rebounds, three steals and a block in 32 minutes in the win. The Calgary native is averaging 17.0 points and 7.6 rebounds in 11 games for Gonzaga, continuing to expand her game after averaging 10.0 points per game last season.

- Aaliyah Edwards continues to make headlines at UConn. Though the Huskies dropped an 85-78 decision to Maryland this weekend, Edwards shone brightest in a game where her team was without four starters due to injury.

Edwards scored a career-high 25 points in the game, flirting with a triple-double as she finished with 25 points, seven rebounds and six assists while shooting 12-for-19 from the floor. The 6-foot-3 junior is averaging 15.9 points, 9.7 rebounds and 2.7 assists in nine games for the Huskies this season.

- Joining Edwards in the 25-point club was Olivier-Maxence Prosper who dropped 25 points on a scorching 11-for-14 shooting in Marquette’s 90-78 win against North Carolina Central. The 20-year-old Montreal native had his own 10-0 run in the first half to help Marquette take control.

“He did a great job getting in the paint and getting high quality shots for us,” Marquette head coach Shaka Smart said. “ He really attacked and got in the paint. He had good footwork and he played at a high level.”

Prosper is averaging 15.1 points and 4.9 rebounds in 11 games for Marquette this season.

- This was a big week for both Prosper siblings. While Olivier had a huge game, younger sister Cassandre Prosper had some breaking news of her own. Shortly after announcing that she would be attending Notre Dame next season, Cassandre had a surprise for the Irish faithful this week. Rather than wait until next season, Prosper will be enrolling early to Notre Dame, suiting up for the program next semester.

Currently the 16th overall recruit for the ESPN HoopGurlz Recruiting Rankings, Prosper was last season’s OSBA league MVP and was also named Finals MVP for the 2022 OSBA Final 8 High School Championships after a 33-point, 15-rebound, two-assist performance. This comes after Prosper averaged 23.2 points, 13.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game.

Most recently, Prosper suited up for Canada in the 2022 FIBA U17 Women’s Basketball World Cup where she averaged 14 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 3.0 blocks and a tournament-best 4.6 steals per game and was named to the tournament All-Star five.

- Bridget Carleton made her Perfumerias Avenida debut on Thursday by making  an immediate impact in the team’s 75-53 win against Sopron Basket. Carleton scored a game-high 17 points in just 20 minutes in the victory, making 6-of-9 field goals, including 5-of-7 three-point field goals.

- Finally, would it even be another week in the NBA if we didn’t have another Shai Gilgeous-Alexander performance to highlight?

While the Oklahoma City Thunder fell to the Dallas Mavericks 121-114 on Monday, Gilgeous-Alexander was sensational once again. Facing league-leading scorer Luka Doncic, Gilgeous-Alexander matched his career-high with 42 points, two rebounds, three assists and three steals in 38 minutes for the Thunder. Gilgeous-Alexander made 14-of-23 field goals and was a perfect 13-for-13 from the line.

With the high-scoring performance, Gilgeous-Alexander is now second in the league in scoring, trailing only Doncic, averaging 31.2 points per contest.