BYUH takes on Cal Poly Pomona in regional final
By Mike Bennett
Special to The Advertiser
BELLINGHAM, Wash. — Brigham Young-Hawai'i brings a lot of experience and talent to the court in its quest for an elusive national title in NCAA Division II men's basketball.
It's Virgil Buensuceso's job to dish up what's best each game on a team that features top scorers such as Jet Chang and Lucas Alves.
"I do what my team needs," Buensuceso said after helping engineer the Seasiders' 77-58 win over Cal State Bernardino with his scoring, defense and speed on Saturday night in the West Regional.
"It's not stats; it's getting it done," said the Seasiders' point guard.
All egos are off tonight: Advancing is the only thing that matters in a championship rematch with Cal Poly Pomona.
It will be the last chance for seniors Garrett Sandberg and Alves, who was last year's Division II player of the year.
Tipoff is at 4 p.m. Hawai'i time.
Both teams are peaking. The Seasiders have won 15 consecutive games, and the Broncos have claimed 17 of 18.
The Seasiders (22-5) desperately want to break a string of two straight defeats in the regional title game, including last season's 59-58 loss to Cal Poly Pomona on a putback basket with three seconds to play.
Buensuceso is confident the outcome will change. "We're more mature and not taking anything for granted," he said.
Coach Ken Wagner is optimistic, too, that this is the year for a trip to the Elite 8 in Springfield, Mass.
"The more times you have been in situations like that the better prepared you are," Wagner said. "All year long, it's been on their minds."
That certainly concerns Cal Poly coach Greg Kamansky.
"The motivation is on them more than us," he said. "They are playing so well now. They dismantled a really good team."
Kamansky knows full well because his Broncos (24-6) fell twice this season to Cal State Bernardino.
Kamansky's team made several critical plays on Saturday night in a 76-75 win over top-seeded Western Washington, including last-second baskets to send the game into overtime and then to win.
Both came off inbounds plays that were driven inside. "It was the only time all season we used them," Kamansky said.
"They are very good in close games," Wagner said. "They play half-court all year (on offense). It prepares you for the tight games."
Kamansky said he is concerned about the Seasiders' size and scoring ability. But, he is confident, too, especially if the game stays close.
"My guys understand what they face," Kamansky said. "Our players know how to play the game. They know how to share the ball."