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BYUH going to first Elite 8

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    Loser of its past three regional finals, Brigham Young-Hawaii breaks through, beating Dixie State to advance to the NCAA D-II basketball tournament’s Elite 8.

ELLENSBURG, Wash. » It was time for a different outcome.

Brigham Young-Hawaii, which had lost its last three regional finals, got a 79-73 victory over PacWest Conference rival Dixie State in the NCAA Division II West Regional final last night at Nicholson Pavillion.

The win earns the Seasiders (20-8) their first trip to the Elite 8 next week in Springfield, Mass. BYUH will play the winner of today’s East Regional final between Bentley (24-7) and Bloomfield (23-8) on March 23.

Seventh-seeded BYU-Hawaii knocked off the second-, sixth- and fourth-seeded teams in the past four days. The last was the PacWest co-champion Red Storm.

The game featured four lead changes in the first 9 minutes, but Jet Chang’s fade-away jumper from the baseline at the 11:10 mark gave BYUH the lead for good. Chang’s jumper was part of an 11-0 run that turned an eight-point deficit into a 22-19 lead.

"No one was picking us to win it, but they (the BYUH players) were focused," Seasiders coach Ken Wagner said. "We all thought we could win if we did the things we are capable of."

While Dixie State relied mostly on Griffon Jones, BYUH used multiple shooters from inside the paint and outside the arc to score at will from any area of the floor.

"Where they beat us was they cleaned it out and gave the ball to Jet (Chang) or out on the arc," Red Storm head coach Jon Judkins said.

As good as Jones (25 points) was on the inside, BYUH’s Jake Dastrup, Rory Patterson and Junior Ale took advantage from the outside.

Up by just three late in the first half, Patterson got a solid look from the corner to double that advantage — 36-30 — and then hit a long jumper to make it 38-30. With the clock winding down, Dastrup banked a 3-ball at the buzzer and the Seasiders were up 13 at the half.

"I’ve shot well against them this year and they know I’m a shooter," Dastrup said. "I wasn’t trying to bank it in, but I saw it going toward the backboard and I got a good bounce."

The Red Storm closed to 51-47 with 13:44 left and cut it to five with 2:07 to play, but couldn’t match BYUH’s hot shooting. The Seasiders shot nearly 53 percent — 47 percent from 3-point range — with five players in double figures and a sixth — Heath Gameren — with nine.

"There are more talented teams in this tournament than us," said Seasiders guard Marques Whippy, named the tournament’s most outstanding player. "We cannot beat these teams 1-on-1, but together we can."

Dastrup finished with 18 points, 15 on 5-for-9 shooting from 3-point range. Chang — named to the all-tournament team — and Ale both added 14. Whippy finished with 10 points, 11 boards and five assists.

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