The gold mine down under

Following suit with many collegiate basketball coaches who recruit all around the world, Fresno State women’s basketball head coach Adrian Wiggins found his gold mine down under, in the heart of Australia.

Since 2009, Wiggins has recruited six Australian student-athletes to play for the Fresno State basketball program. Three of those players are part of the current roster.

“We are very fortunate for that pipeline,” Wiggins said. “It’s just word of mouth [the players] come here and have a great experience. They get to finish what their goals are, which is go to college, get a degree and play some pretty darn good basketball.”

The Bulldogs traveled to Las Vegas this past weekend to compete in the Western Athletic Conference Tournament, where the ‘Dogs stole the show with the help of their ‘Aussie connection.’

When the Bulldogs left the Orleans Arena Saturday they were WAC champions, marking their fifth-straight bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Junior Rosie Moult from Olinda, Victoria, Australia helped Fresno State make WAC history setting the team record for most 3-point shots made in a game. The ‘Dogs made 15 3s, six of which were Moult’s, breaking the previous record of 13 set by Fresno State 2010 team. She has been to the NCAA tournament before with the ‘Dogs, and now has the chance to help end the Bulldogs’ NCAA Tournament woes.

“It’s real exciting just to know we’re there,” Moult said. “It’s been one of my main goals this season, obviously to win the WAC, but we want to win at least a game there.”

Moult brought the thunder from down under every game of the tournament, averaging 15.7 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. Moult also had a tournament-high 11 steals over the course of the weekend.

In the quarterfinal game against Idaho, Moult scored 15 points and pulled down a team-high nine rebounds.

It was not until the championship game did the 6-foot-1 Aussie light up from behind the arc.

Moult carried the ‘Dogs against Louisiana Tech Saturday afternoon, going on an 11-point scoring tear to lead the Bulldogs to a 26-7 run in the first half. She hit six of the 11 shots from 3-point range.

“Everyone was hitting shots, it felt good,” Moult said. “It was nice just to know they were going in. It gives me the confidence to keep going and I think once that flows, everyone else flows.”
Wiggins has recruited in Australia for the majority of his seven-year career at Fresno State, and after bringing in Moult three years ago, he utilized his newfound Aussie talent to bring in more student-athletes from overseas.

Director of Athletics Thomas Boeh attested to Wiggins’ success with recruiting from Australia, given that Wiggins does it without actually traveling, due to budget cuts.

“He’s had to use the reputation that he’s established over in Australia to get some of these kids,” Boeh said. “There has been a real movement on the CSU campuses, and we are happy to be a part of that, but no one does it better than Adrian Wiggins.”

The Bulldog head coach also recruited sophomore Bree Farley from South Australia and freshman Alex Sheedy from Moe, Australia, each of whom had a hand in bringing home the WAC championship trophy.
In the tournament semifinal Farley drained two 3-pointers and finished the game with 12 points. Sheedy was consistent the entire tournament, landing in the top 10 in field goal percentage, at 54 percent.

Fresno State women’s program has seen a surge in production out of the Aussie players in the last two seasons and Wiggins has utilized their ability to knock down the long ball. The Aussies, for the 2011-12 season, shot a combined 34 percent from behind the three-point line.

“Any of these players can hit 3s,” Wiggins said, but after receiving the No. 12 seed in the NCAA Tournament the Bulldogs will have to find a way to win utilizing all of their strengths.
“I definitely believe we’re an NCAA Tournament team,” Wiggins said. “You just never know how that’s going to go.”

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