Friday, November 27, 2015         

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Chaminade upsets Oklahoma to notch sixth win at Maui

By Brian McInnis


LAHAINA >> One hails from a small private community in California, the other from “The Jungle,” one of the roughest neighborhoods of Los Angeles.

Shane Hanson and Steven Bennett might make for unlikely friends, but the two Chaminade seniors are now forever bound by one of the great upsets in the 27-year history of the EA Sports Maui invitational.

Oklahoma fell to feisty Chaminade yesterday, 68-64, and became the sixth victim of the Division II Silverswords since the creation of the tournament in 1984.

When the horn sounded, the 5-foot-6, 155-pound Bennett — an all-tournament team selection — let out a primal scream at midcourt and his teammates quickly arrived to mob each other on national television.

“I just screamed,” said the fearless Bennett, who had 14 points and the go-ahead basket on an aggressive drive with 16 seconds left. “You know like sometimes you have a great feeling and you want to just scream? I wanted to scream.”

Hanson, who pumped in 11 of his 23 points on four straight ’Swords baskets late in the second half, was in disbelief as he snagged the rebound of the final Sooners miss.

“I thought I got fouled and heard the whistle. I looked up and it was zero (on the clock), so the ref waved it off, and it was over. I was like, ‘OK! We won!’ ”

For Bennett and Hanson, two of five seniors on the Silverswords roster, it was the last chance to make a mark in the event that lured them to Hawaii as transfers.

Junior center Mamadou Diarra also came up huge for Chaminade in the seventh-place game. He had 15 points and 11 rebounds, and iced the game with two free throws with 8 seconds left.

Chaminade almost knocked off No. 2 Michigan State in the first round on Monday. There was somewhat of a letdown in a consolation semifinal on Tuesday. But the ’Swords were back in top form against a program that went to the Elite Eight in 2009.

“There is no consolation game for us,” said coach Matt Mahar, who directed the team to its previous Maui win over Princeton in 2007. “Oklahoma’s a good team. They’re really young. They’ll move on and forget this game and be a really great team in the future.

“For our university and our team, it’s something we’ll never forget.”

Chaminade improved to 6-73 all-time on Maui. Bennett dedicated the win to injured seniors Chandler Pearson and Rickey Clayborn.

“He’s grown a tremendous amount, just on and off the court,” Hanson said of Bennett. “Our friendship has grown a lot too and we always talk basketball. We have classes together and our friendship is always contributing to how we play on the court. We try to work with each other, ball picks and all that stuff. I think Steve-O’s grown a tremendous amount on the court as a leader, knowing how to create for others.”

Hanson, the team’s designated shooter, was the beneficiary of his buddy’s dangerous drives, finding himself open regularly in the second half as the Sooners had to respect the point guard’s ability to knife through the paint.

He got off to a slow start — he was 2-for-8 on 3-pointers by the time he air-balled one to open the second half — but kept shooting, nailing his last three from deep as OU coach Jeff Capel threw up his hands in frustration.

“We left him wide open. For the life of me, I can’t understand how we left a guy who was hitting 3s like that,” Capel said.

The 6-foot-6, 230-pound Hanson, of Canyon Lake, Calif., was a rotation player at UC Davis until 2008, when he decided to transfer out. He hadn’t heard much about Chaminade — including its legendary upset of top-ranked Virginia in 1982 — but Mahar sold him on the team because of the Maui tournament.

He’s happy about that decision.

“This team has a lot of heart. We have guys that think we can win, that want to win,” Hanson said. “Have the drive and determination. No matter who we’re playing, whoever we’re going up against, we think we can win. ... Doesn’t matter if we’re Division II or Division III. We’re going to try to win every game.”

Hanson estimated he had 15 family members in attendance at the Lahaina Civic Center.

For Bennett, it was a chance to show the world that Baldwin Hills can produce success stories, too.

“This is the exact moment I’ve been looking for my whole life,” said Bennett, who transferred to Chaminade from Citrus College. “I come from a tough neighborhood where not many people make it out, so as far as being on the big stage of ESPN, that’s something I really wanted to do to put my neighborhood on the map.”

>> Chaminade’s complete list of victims on Maui: Davidson (1984), Providence (1991), Stanford (1992), Villanova (2003), Princeton (2007) and Oklahoma (2010).

No. 2 Michigan State 76,
No. 13 Washington 71

Kalin Lucas scored 29 points and keyed a second-half rally, helping the Spartans (4-1) salvage a win over the Huskies (3-2) in the third-place game.

Wichita State 70, Virginia 58

J.T. Durley had 17 points, Toure Murry added 13 and the Shockers (3-1) overcame a sluggish start to beat the Cavaliers (3-3) in the fifth-place game.

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