Brigham Young-Hawaii ousted


POSTED: Tuesday, March 16, 2010

BELLINGHAM, Wash. » Two teams took the court yesterday with a little redemption in mind. Cal Poly Pomona was looking to get back to the elite eight in hopes of avenging a loss in last year's national championship game. Meanwhile, Brigham Young-Hawaii was looking to exact some revenge on the team that eliminated it from the postseason a year ago.

But the Seasiders failed to get even, as three shots on a last possession went awry, resulting in a 78-75 loss in the NCAA Division II West Regional championship at Western Washington University. It marked the third straight year coach Ken Wagner's team has lost a heartbreaker in the regional final.

“;This really was a different game,'' he said. “;We didn't play well enough and they deserved to win. Last year I thought that we probably deserved it.''

It was an unfortunate end to the career of three seniors, including Lucas Alves, who was named Pacific West Conference Player of the Year for the third time earlier in the night. But it was senior point guard Virgil Buensuceso summing it up well for his entire team.

“;For the things we have accomplished last year and this year, I am grateful,”; he said. “;But at this point in time, I'm hurting inside to know that my career is over.''





Alves player of year for third time

        Brigham Young-Hawaii senior Lucas Alves has earned Pacific West Conference player of the year honors for the third straight year. The individual accolade is a bit surprising because he missed a good portion of the season with a knee injury.


The honors were announced at halftime of yesterday's NCAA Division II West Regional loss to Cal Poly Pomona.


Alves averaged 15.4 points and 4.8 rebounds in helping the Seasiders to a share of the conference title with Dixie State. He was joined on the first team by teammate Marques Whippy, Hawaii Pacific's Mike Helton and C.J. Jackson, Hawaii-Hilo's Justin Smith, Dominican's Austin Bryan and Dixie State's Tom Whitehead.


BYUH's Jet Chang and Virgil Buensuceso, HPU's Ray Murdock, Chaminade's Steven Bennett, Dixie State's Donovan Plunkett and Grand Canyon's Brad Carroll and T.J. Benson made the second team.


The loss snapped a 15-game win streak for the sixth-seeded Seasiders. The third-seeded Broncos are on the other end, having won 18 of their last 19 and advancing to the elite eight for the fourth time in eight years.

The Broncos (25-6) led by as many as 13 in both halves, but it wouldn't be a Cal Poly Pomona game if it didn't come down to a last shot. The Seasiders (22-6) got the ball back for the last time down by three with 26 seconds to go.

Sophomore guard Jet Chang missed a 3-pointer from the wing that would have tied it, but teammate Marques Whippy came up with the loose ball in the key. Chang missed again and another scramble for the loose ball ensued. This time it was Anthony Reilly hoisting a desperation shot and it, too, was off the mark as the buzzer sounded, sending the Broncos into celebration.

“;We've been in these situations so many times before,'' said Cal Poly Pomona senior Austin Swift, named the regional's most outstanding player. “;Almost all our games come down to the last 5 minutes. We're confident we're going to win those games because we have done it so many times before.''

The 3-point shot has never been a big part of the Cal Poly offensive arsenal, but one would never have known by watching its most recent performance. The Broncos, who had attempted just 112 in 28 games coming into the tournament, went a season-best 10-for-18 from behind the arc, with seven of those makes in the first half staking the Broncos to an early lead.

Part of the game plan for the Broncos was to hit from outside because of the size disadvantage it faced in the paint. Seasiders coach Ken Wagner was upset that his team never quite made the adjustment.

“;I wasn't surprised they were making them; I was surprised they were that open,'' he said. “;We didn't guard them well enough, but give them credit for making them.”;

BYUH made it interesting with Chang's 3-pointer with 34 seconds left, cutting the deficit to 78-75 and setting the stage for the finish.

The Broncos hit 53.8 percent (28-for-52), while the Seasiders shot 47.2 (25-for-53). The battle on the boards was a near draw, as Cal Poly finished with a slight 29-28 edge. Each team had 15 turnovers.

Alves had 26 points and 10 rebounds and Chang added 21 points.