DIVISION II WEST REGIONAL SEMIFINAL
Loose-ball foul turns tide against ’Swords
ANCHORAGE, Alaska. » When tempers flare and matters get chippy in sports, it's almost always the reaction of the second guy that gets noticed. Chaminade senior Stewart Kussler was that guy yesterday, earning a technical foul during a scrum for a loose ball.
Coming with 8:35 remaining and the Silverswords in the process of slicing a 23-point BYU-Hawaii lead to eight in a Division II West Regional semifinal, Kussler's foul brought Chaminade's rally and season to a screeching halt before 1,160 at the Wells Fargo Sports Complex.
The Seasiders' ensuing 23-3 run catapulted them to an 83-62 win and tomorrow's championship game at 5 p.m. against host Alaska Anchorage, a 56-55 winner over Seattle Pacific in the other semifinal.
BYU-Hawaii's Corey Nielson ended up on top of Kussler after players dove for the loose ball.
"When the whistle blew I was on top of him, so I put my hands down and pushed up," Nielson said. "He lashed out because I was on top of him."
Chaminade coach Matt Mahar didn't see that.
"I didn't see the play there with the technical foul, I have no idea," he said. "I didn't see any contact. I asked my guy what happened and he said the kid dove on him. The ref said there was contact after the whistle."
Instead of 'Swords ball with them trailing 58-50, Seasider Paul Peterson made two free throws, then Jermaine Odjegba scored on the possession to make it 62-50 with 7:20 in the game.
"We had some momentum going, then it goes the other way, we were definitely deflated," Mahar said. "When it was (58-50) I thought we had a chance to win the game, draw something up, get a three. You never know what could have been."
What had been this season was BYU-Hawaii losing three straight to its cross-Oahu, Pacific West rivals by a total of 12 points. Seasider coach Ken Wagner didn't see this result coming.
"Chaminade's a great team and we feel fortunate to finally come out on top," he said. "We never expect that (margin of victory). It was nice, but they made that run, caught up, then we took off again."
Seasider Lucas Alves led everyone with 18 and Nielson scored 15. Silversword Marko Kolaric was high rebounder with 12, while Mike Green scored 17 for Chaminade.
Two schools that are 35 miles apart traveled 2,790 miles to play for a shot at the Division II Elite Eight. The seventh-seeded Seasiders ended a season's worth of frustration when it mattered most.
Asked if maybe BYU-Hawaii had a chip on its shoulder about Chaminade, Nielson's head-nodding response was "You have no idea. You have no idea. Both teams respect each other, but when the whistle blows we're all competing. Nobody wants to lose on this stage."
Peterson credited Wagner with realizing how Chaminade had to be neutralized.
"Before (this season) they really killed us on the screen and rolls in the middle. Today our big men made a good effort in stepping out and giving us help so we could get around them," the senior guard said.
"(Chaminade's Rodrick Johnson) really gave us problems, so Coach made the adjustment. He started Nate (Sims) and had Marques (Whippy) and Jermaine (Odjegba) guard (Johnson)."