Seasiders advance to West final
By Mike Bennett
Special to The Honolulu Advertiser
BELLINGHAM, Wash. — A little rest goes a long way for a team with a regional NCAA championship in its sights.
That was apparent yesterday as Brigham Young-Hawai'i streaked past Cal State San Bernardino, 77-58, in a semifinal of the Division II West Regional.
The Seasiders won their 15th consecutive game with an energy level that was in stark contrast to their 76-72 triumph over Seattle Pacific in a sloppy regional opener on Friday afternoon.
"I know I felt better," joked Seasiders' coach Ken Wagner.
So did forward Marques Whippy, who typified the turnaround after a 26-hour layoff. He scored 17 points a day after going scoreless.
The muscular 215-pound junior also contributed five rebounds, two steals and an offensive blocking foul that would make football coaches proud.
"I felt like I let the team down yesterday," Whippy said.
He made up for it quickly, teaming with guard Jet Chang to score 11 points apiece as the Seasiders charged to a 39-22 halftime lead. They finished on a 12-point run.
"I thought the turning point was those last four minutes," said CSSB coach Jeff Oliver. "That dug us a big hole."
The Coyotes never climbed closer than 14 in the second half.
BYUH (22-5) meets Cal Poly Pomona in the regional final that tips off at 4 p.m. Hawai'i time tomorrow.
Whippy is optimistic that the result will be different than a close finals loss last year.
"Last year, we came short of the title," he said. "That helped us mature, learn from our mistakes. I'm happy to be here."
Chang finished with 19 points yesterday, Virgil Buensuceso added 16 and Lucas Alves 14 as the Seasiders hit 47 percent of their field goals and were 24 of 28 on free throws.
The victory was the second over a higher seed for the No. 6 Seasiders.
The Coyotes (23-8) were seeded second and Seattle Pacific was third. But, Oliver wouldn't call it upsets.
"They weren't the preseason No. 1 by a fluke. They had injuries," Oliver said. "They are an extremely talented team."