Chaminade Advances to Semis With Upset of Texas
By Rodney S. Yap
The giant-killers from St. Louis Heights on Oahu were at it again. This time Chaminade knocked off Texas, 86-73, before a prime-time televised audience opposite Monday Night Football at the Lahaina Civic Center.
The Silverswords’ upset over the Longhorns comes on the heels of the Division II school’s most memorable victory 30 years ago against top-ranked Virginia and 7-foot, 4-inch center Ralph Sampson. Few fans, however, got to see that shocker until highlights were posted hours later.
Monday’s opening-round win over Texas proved to be bigger than Butler’s 72-71 buzzer-beater over Marquette or the spectacular showing of No. 9 North Carolina against Mississippi State in day one of the EA SPORTS Maui Invitational Basketball Tournament.
“We are ecstatic,” Chaminade coach Eric Bovaird said. “We believed all along that we had a chance to play with these guys over here. We knew if we got down to a close ballgame that there was a good chance we were going to win.”
Chaminade spotted Texas an 8-0 lead after missing its first 10 shots, before settling down and tying the game at 8-8 almost eight minutes into the first half — which it led 31-28.
To the surprise of many, the Silverswords were much more dominant in the second half.
De’Andre Haskins scored 32 points and had nine rebounds as the Silverswords (3-1) turned the second half into a blowout. Kevin Hu, a Taiwanese freshman, scored 16 points in 14 minutes off the bench.
“I don’t even know what to say,” said Haskins, who sat out last year because of an injury. “I just wanted to play hard and play with my teammates.”
The win was Chaminade’s seventh compared to 76 losses since the Catholic school of 1,200 students became the host of the Maui Invitational in 1984.
“I have so much faith in my team, I will put them up against anybody in the country on any given night,” Bovaird said. “These guys have worked so hard to get where they are right now. You have no idea, they have worked just as hard as any Division I athlete, and I am really proud of them.”
Chaminade plays Illinois in the second of two semifinal games today at 5:30 p.m. (ESPN2). Butler will face three-time MIT champion North Carolina in the other semifinal at 3 p.m. (ESPN).
Texas (2-1) shot 46.4% for the game after making just one of eight 3-pointers in the first half. The Longhorns finished with 18 turnovers compared with just 10 assists, and made less than 57% of their free throws.
“Chaminade won the game and they should have won it. I don’t even think the score is even indicative of how much better they played than we played,” Texas coach Rick Barnes said.
“I thought we played tentative, you might even use the word scared. We didn’t play like we practiced and that’s probably the most disappointing thing is that we didn’t really give ourselves a chance. At worse we expect everybody to do what we’re counting on them to do.”
Chaminade picked Texas apart in the second half, not allowing the Longhorns to score consecutive baskets until less than 7 minutes remained in the game. A pull-up jumper from Hu with 6:23 left gave Chaminade a 19-point lead at 64-45.
Texas pulled to within nine on a 3-pointer from Julien Lewis with 2:16 left, but could get no closer as Chaminade out rebounded the Division I school, which were ranked in the top 25 last week, 43 to 35.
“It showed that we were ready to come to battle and that we crashed the boards and blocked out. They executed the game plan.”
The Longhorns shot 19-percent (4-for-21) from three-point range, while Chaminade was all money at the free-throw line making 34 of 39 attempts. Texas only hit 17-of-30 (56.7-percent) free throws of their own and committed 18 turnovers.
“We knew when you look on paper, their size, their strength, their weight as compared to us, everybody, it didn’t take a basketball genius to realize that they were going to try to beat us inside and try to beat us on the boards,” Bovaird said. “It is something we talked about for a long time, and the guys did a great job.”
Haskins, a former Division I player at Valparaiso, played like he belonged on the court with Texas, an attitude that certainly transcended to his teammates.
Chaminade will take that confidence into today’s game against Illinois.
“We’re pretty happy to have picked up this win right now, but the guys were saying in the locker room before we got here, ‘Coach we can win that, we can win that tournament.’ And these guys believe that and this was the first step in achieving that. So they believe it and we’re going to come out and be prepared for our next game.”
Ironically, Sampson, the former No. 1 overall NBA draft pick who scored 12 points for Virginia in that 77-72 loss three decades ago, was in attendance at Lahaina Civic Center.
Sampson was part of a press conference earlier in the day reminiscing that signature win by the Silverswords, along with former Chaminade coach Merv Lopes and the Silverswords’ under-sized center/captain Tony Randolph.
Illinois 94, USC 64
Paul Brandon scored a game-high 26 points and led three other starters with double figures to a lopsided win over the Trojans in Monday’s nightcap.
Illinois led 57-26 at halftime after shooting 68% from the field. The Fighting Illini also out rebounded USC 42-20.
“Tonight we didn’t do anything,” said USC head coach Kevin O’Neill after the game. “We got set back on our heels and once they started making shots, their confidence grew and ours went down. We played better in the second half, but it’s harder to play well when you got a lead like they had. It’s easy to say they couldn’t miss a shot, but it’s our job on defense to make them miss and we didn’t make them miss.”
D.J. Richardson had 13 points, Tracy Abrams added 11 and Tyler Griffey chipped in 10 for Illinois.
“I thought we came out tonight and really moved the ball well in the first half,” said Illinois head coach John Groce. “I thought the tempo was to our liking. I thought the first half was as good as we’ve defended thus far this season. . . . We were really unselfish in the first half and shared the ball well, it was hard to key on just one guy.”
“I’m disappointed with the way we played and I certainly hope it’s not indicative of our team,” added O’Neill, who got a team-high 13 points from Eric Wise. “Tonight we didn’t do anything that we needed to do offensively or defensively. I’ve been here four years now and we’ve never been beaten that bad.”
Game 5: Marquette vs. Mississippi, 9:30 a.m. (ESPN2)
Game 6: Texas vs. USC, noon (ESPN2)
Game 7: Semifinal, Butler vs. North Carolina, 3 p.m. (ESPN)
Game 8: Semifinal, Chaminade vs. Illinois, 5:30 p.m. (ESPN2)