Gonzaga beats Cincinnati in OT thriller
By Fred Guzman
Based on the lofty standards of an event billed as the nation’s premier pre-season college basketball tournament, this hardly qualified as the most impressive field for a recent EA Sports Maui Invitational.
There were only two ranked teams coming into the event, No. 21 Maryland and No. 24 Vanderbilt. But indicative of just how competitive this field truly was, consider that neither the Terrapins nor the Commodores, reached the final, each an upset victim of Cincinnati..
The Bearcats took on the early roll of giant-killer, knocking off Vanderbilt 67-58 in Monday’s opening day and followed that up with a dominating 69-57 victory over Maryland.
But Cincinnati’s bid for the title fell short as Gonzaga pulled out a 61-59 victory before a national television audience and an overflow crowd at the Lahaina Civic Center.
Sharing MVP honors were Gonzaga’s Steven Gray and Matt Bouldin. Also named to the all-tournament team were Cincinnati’s Yancy Gates and Deonte Vaughn, Wisconsin’s Trevor Hughes and Arizona’s Nic Wise.
In Wednesday’s other final round of games, Wisconsin stunned Maryland 78-69 for third place, Vanderbilt topped Arizona 84-72 for fifth and Colorado pulled away from Chaminade for a 73-58 win in the seventh-place game.
The field for next year’s tournament, set for Nov. 22-24, is filled with traditional powerhouse programs. Joining host Chaminade for the 2010 tournament will be Connecticut, Kentucky, Michigan State, Oklahoma, Virginia, Washington, and Wichita State.
As a point of reference, five of those teams are currently ranked among the nation’s Top 25: No. 2 Michigan State, No. 5 Kentucky, No. 13 Connecticut, No. 14 Washington, and No. 25 Oklahoma.
In other words, just your typical star-studded cast for the next edition of the EA Sports Maui Invitational.