BYUH men beat Seattle Pacific to advance in NCAA II tournament
By Mike Bennett
Special to The Honolulu Advertiser
BELLINGHAM, Wash. — This victory wasn't pretty.
But it was good enough for streaking Brigham Young University-Hawaii.
The Seasiders held off a late rally by Seattle Pacific on Friday to triumph 76-72 and advance to the semifinals of the NCAA Division II Men's West Regional.
The Seasiders' 14th consecutive victory wasn't without its rough spots and wasn't certain until Anthony Reilly sank two free throws with 2.7 seconds left.
"We didn't play good at all," said senior Lucas Alves, who led the 21-5 Seasiders with 20 points and 12 rebounds. "We got it over with (to stay alive). We just wanted to win."
A strong defensive push had helped boost the Seasiders to the largest lead of the game - at 70-60 -- after a driving lay-in by Jet Chang with 1:16 left.
But, a technical foul after the field goal led to two free throws by the Falcons (22-6) and helped give them life. "It was a mental mistake," said coach Ken Wagner about the call on guard Virgil Buensuceso.
Chang was fouled on his shot and made his free throw for a 71-62 lead.
But, the Falcons surged back.
Junior guard Chris Banchero hit two field goals and made four free throws to pull them to 74-72 with seven seconds left. The Seasiders took two timeouts before getting the ball in on the inbounds play.
Banchero led the Falcons with 22 points. "Seattle Pacific did an excellent job. They are a very good team," Wagner said. "We were lucky."
The teams played in the tournament's first game at 10:30 a.m. Hawaii Time. "We never play this early," Wagner said.
That could be an advantage now for the Seasiders, who will have 26 hours off before playing Cal State San Bernardino (23-7) in the semifinal at 3 p.m. Saturday.
CSSB defeated Humboldt State 75-66 in Friday's second game.
"Now it's good because it's longer between games," Wagner said. "We'll get more rest. We need it."
The Seasiders led 35-30 at halftime, but the tightly-played contest was tied 10 times -- the last at 51 with 9:54 left.
Chang scored 15 points, including several lean-in bank shots in the second half after he raced past his defender. He had hit only one of seven field goal attempts in the first half and had problems penetrating toward the basket against the quick Seattle Pacific guards.
"I saw no help side (defense) and I decided to get up," Chang said about finding his rhythm.
Garret Sandberg scored 11 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Seasiders. Rory Patterson added 12 points.
Reilly made seven of eight free throws and totaled nine points.