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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, November 21, 2006

No. 5 UCLA pounces on Chaminade, 88-63

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By Peter Boylan
Advertiser Staff Writer

Chaminade's Stewart Kussler is called for a charge on UCLA center Lorenzo Mata as he tries to put up a shot in the first half of an opening round game of the Maui Invitational in Lahaina.

MICHAEL CONROY | Associated Press

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LAHAINA No Chaminade, this was not Virginia.

Facing fifth-ranked UCLA seven months after the Bruins fell to Florida in the NCAA title game, the Chaminade Silverswords came out scrapping but were ultimately overwhelmed.

The Silverswords fell 88-63 in the opening round of the EA Sports Maui Invitational at the Lahaina Civic Center last night.

The Silverswords shot 43 percent from the field and turned the ball over 22 times. The Bruins scorched the nets, shooting 56 percent from the field.

"As usual it's tough for us playing against one of the top teams in the country," Chaminade coach Matt Mahar said. "We went at the players a little hard at halftime. Some of our young guys were a little star struck when they saw UCLA on the jerseys, but we came out and fought in the second half and it's just about getting better for us and we definitely did that in the second half. As far as feeling bad for ourselves, we took one minute and did that and now we're going to get ready."

Chaminade plays DePaul at 11:30 a.m. today.

The Bruins opened with a deflating 17-2 run that set the tone for the rest of the game.

Despite the early deficit, the Silverswords played defense early, holding the Bruins without a field goal for 4:55 after the UCLA run at the 15:07 mark.

Point guard Zack Whiting finished with 14 points and 10 assists for Chaminade, which is 4-61 in the tournament's 22 years. If not for the 23-point halftime deficit, Chaminade would have had a chance. The Silverswords were outscored 45-43 in the second half and charged back after every UCLA basket.

"I thought Chaminade was a really feisty team. I was feeling really comfortable with a 30-point lead but then boom, they were within 18," UCLA coach Ben Howland said. "I think Whiting is a real good player. He had 14 points and 10 assists against a really good team and you can see why he's on the (Bob) Cousy list."

The Bruins (2-0) will play No. 20 Kentucky, which beat DePaul, 87-81, in the semifinals tonight. It will be a matchup of two schools with a combined 18 national championships a record 11 by UCLA.

"If we could win 3-2 I'd be happy," Howland said.

Howland began substituting early and often after his team went up by 15 in the first half.

Coming into the Chaminade game, Howland said he would watch the play of junior guard Aaron Afflalo and junior center Lorenzo Mata, both of whom are nursing nagging injuries.

Afflalo tweaked a knee in the Bruins' 82-69 win over BYU last Wednesday and Mata had cartilage fragments removed from his right knee on Oct. 12.

Both players started the game but Howland pulled Afflalo in the first half after he scored 11 quick points. He returned to the lineup in the second half and continued his offensive explosion.

Afflalo hit three 3-pointers in the early run and the Bruins were never threatened by the Division II Silverswords (0-1), the hosts of the eight-team tournament.

The 6-foot-5 Afflalo was 10 for 14 from the field, including 5 for 7 from 3-point range.

Darrell Birton was 4 for 5 on 3's and had 12 points for the Silverswords, whose last tournament win was over Villanova in the opening round in 2003.

Josh Shipp had 16 points and Darren Collison added 15 for UCLA, which returned two starters from the team that lost to Florida in the national championship game last April.

The Bruins shot 51.5 percent (17 for 33) in the first half while holding the Silverswords to 33.3 percent (8 for 24) and forcing 12 turnovers, which UCLA converted into 18 points in building a 43-20 halftime lead.

UCLA's biggest lead was 56-26 on two free throws by Shipp with 16:08 to play.

The Silverswords got to 58-41 with 11:17 to play on a free throw by Dan Wendt. Collison then hit two 3-pointers and scored after stealing an inbounds pass to account for all the points in an 8-2 run that made it 66-43 with 10 minutes left. Chaminade was never closer than 20 points the rest of the way.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Reach Peter Boylan at pboylan@honoluluadvertiser.com.