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WCC Men's Basketball Recaps

Nov. 9, 2007

Saint Mary's - 82
Sonoma State - 57

Moraga, CA - On opening night for the 2007-08 Saint Mary's men's basketball team, the Gaels posted an 82-57 win over the Sonoma State Seawolves as part of the Saint Mary's Tip-off classic from McKeon Pavilion. Diamon Simpson led the Gaels with his eighth career double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds.

It was also the debut of highly touted Australian recruit Patrick Mills, and he did not disappoint the 2,253 fans that attended the freshman's first collegiate game. Mills was the first freshman since Daniel Kickert in 2002 to start his first college game. Mills scored 17 points, shooting 5-of-8 from the floor, dished out five assists and had four steals.

Saint Mary's (1-0) had five players score in double figures as sophomore center Omar Samhan had 12 points and eight rebounds and senior guard Tron Smith also added 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting.

SMC's first basket of the game came off a driving lay-up by Mills just 13 seconds into the game, Simpson then added a dunk on the next SMC possession and then followed that with the Gaels' first 3-pointer of the year to give the Gaels a 7-1 lead just 1:25 into the game. A basket by Samhan gave the Gaels a 9-1 lead, one that the Gaels would not relinquish.

Saint Mary's opened a 20-7 lead following bucket by Mills at the 12:49 mark, but the Seawolves responded with a 7-0 run to cut the lead to six points following a Blake Saunders three. SMC followed the SSU run with an eight point run of its own that included five points by Tron Smith and a three by Todd Golden. The Gaels held a double-digit lead the rest of the way, and led 41-25 at halftime.

Like the first half, Mills scored the first basket for the Gaels, this time it was his first 3-pointer as a Gael. SMC took a 21-point lead (56-34) when Smith scored converted a three-point play with 14:06 remaining in the game. Saint Mary's would lead by as many as 28 points when Samhan converted a 3-point play with 4:32 on the clock.

The Gaels shot 51.8 percent from the floor, making 29-of-56 shots overall. SMC hit on 10-of-26 three-point attempts, shooting 38.5 percent from beyond the arch. SMC held Sonoma State to 34.4 percent shooting in the game and 33.3 percent shooting from 3-point land.

SMC, which finished 20th in the country in blocked shots last season, setting a WCC and school record with 174 blocks, recorded nine blocks in the first game. Simpson, who had 79 blocks last season, had five to open his junior campaign.

Saint Mary's will return to the hardwood on Saturday night with a 7:30 pm game against the Drake Bulldogs of the Missouri Valley Conference. In its first game of the season, Drake defeated the UC San Diego Tritons 81-63 in the opening game of the Saint Mary's Tip-off Classic.

San Diego - 73
Hawai'i - 72

Honolulu, HI - The USD Toreros, under first year head coach Bill Grier, opened their 2007-08 campaign with a solid 73-72 win over the Hawaii Rainbows. With the game tied at 72-all and Hawaii with the ball, junior Gyno Pomare stole a pass and dribbled the length of the floor where he was fouled with two seconds left. He made the first of two free throws to seal the win. Pomare finished with a double-double of 16 points and 11 rebounds, while junior point guard Brandon Johnson ran the team and scored a team-high 19 points. USD returns to San Diego where they will begin a three-game home stand beginning on Nov. 12th against CS Monterey Bay.

"I'm proud of these guys," said coach Grier. "For a young group, I'm proud of the way they hung together. I told them that Hawaii would make some runs at us, and that we just needed to hang tough. Gyno made a heck of a play at the end of the game, and Brandon also did a terrific job running our team tonight. As everyone in coaching knows, this is one of the tougher places to play."

USD shot the ball well in the first half in building a 40-33 intermission lead. In fact, the Toreros made their first six three-point attempts before a Rob Jones miss from the right corner late in the half. Jones would finish the game with 8 points and 9 rebounds in 32 minutes of action in his first collegiate game. Ray Murdock also added 8 points, while Chris Lewis (7 points) and Danny Brown (6 points) contributed as well.

For the game the Toreros shot 45.9% from the field (28-61), 53.8% from beyond the 3-point line (10-21) and also outrebounded UH, 44-40. Hawaii also had a first year coach on the side lines, Bob Nash, and his son Bobby scored a game-high 22 points.

San Francisco - 87
East Central - 70

Norman, OK) - Junior guard Manny Quezada poured in a game-high 29 points and sophomore forward Dior Lowhorn added 19 points and 12 rebounds powering USF to a 87-70 victory against East Central in the 2007 2K Sports College Hoops Classic Consolation Game Friday afternoon at the Lloyd Noble Center. The Dons (1-1) converted on .429 (9-21) from beyond the arc and limited the Division II Tigers (0-2) to .324 (24-74) from the field.

After another big night against East Central, Quezada is now averaging 21.0 points per game, while Lowhorn leads the Dons with 22.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game after collecting his first career double-double in the Green and Gold. Senior guard Danny Cavic enjoyed a solid night scoring 14 points on 4-of-6 from the floor, including a perfect 3-of-3 from long distance to go along with seven rebounds and four assists.

San Francisco closed the opening period with a scoring flurry, fueled by six straight points off lay-ups from Quezada in the final 40 seconds. The Dons took a 38-25 lead into the intermission after closing on an 11-3 run over the final 3:23. USF opened up an early 5-0 lead. ECU bounced back to take its only lead of the half at 12-11 at 12:52, but USF pushed its lead to eight points, 22-14 with 7:10 left on a Lowhorn bucket.

East Central closed to within two points, 22-20 with 5:41 remaining but the Dons responded to out-score the Tigers 16-3 from there. Lowhorn led all scorers with 12 points and six rebounds at recess, while Quezada added 11 points in the first 20 minutes.

After halftime, the Dons thwarted several ECU runs and built a comfortable lead it would not surrender. Quezada went on a scoring binge in the final 20 minutes of regulation, tossing in 18 points.

USF returns to action when it hosts Sacramento State Saturday, November 17 in its 2007-08 home opener. Game time against the Hornets is set for 7:00 PM at War Memorial Gym.

Santa Clara - 66
Cal State Monterey Bay - 49

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) - John Bryant scored 26 points and pulled down 14 rebounds to help new Santa Clara head coach Kerry Keating win his debut game on Friday, 66-49 over Cal State Monterey Bay.

Bryant scored 18 of his points in the first half and Jonathan Gunderson added 14 for Santa Clara (1-0).

Keating succeeded Dick Davey, who retired after taking the Broncos to three NCAA Tournament appearances in 15 seasons.

Ryan McBride led Cal State Monterey Bay with 16 points. Augie Johnston added 13 and D'Shon Cannon scored 11 points.

Cal State Monterey Bay had a brief 9-8 lead with 15:22 to play in the first half but Santa Clara responded with a 15-8 run. Both teams failed to score for 2:43 until two free throws by Gunderson with 4:06 remaining in the half.

The Broncos led 32-18 at halftime. Cal State Monterey Bay cut the deficit to single digits after a layup by Ryan McBride with 14:13 remaining, and the Otters trailed 35-28. That was as close as the Otters would get after Santa Clara took a 10 point lead with a 3-pointer by Gunderson with 10:55 to play.

Another 3-pointer by Gunderson put the Broncos up 51-37 and Santa Clara would lead by as many as 22 points with 5:25 to play.

The Otters went on a 9-4 run to end the contest. Because Cal State Monterey Bay is a Division II school, this game did not count in the standings. Cal State Monterey Bay officially opens its season on November 16 against Seattle Pacific.

The Broncos were missing three players due to injury. Senior guard Josh Higgins has a left knee injury that will keep him sidelined for 4-5 weeks, freshmen Andrew Zimmerman has been out with a back injury and Scott Thompson is recovering from an appendectomy.

Santa Clara plays its next seven games on the road and does not play again at home until December 12.

UC Irvine - 74
Loyola Marymount - 61

Irvine, CA - For a five-minute stretch in the first half, the Loyola Marymount men's basketball team showed its youth. The stretch saw the Lions fall into a hole they could not get out off as they suffer a 74-61 setback to UC Irvine at Crawford Court on Friday night in the season opener for both teams.

A 21-2 run by UC Irvine that spanned over five minutes saw a one-point ball game turn into 20 point lead for the Anteaters. The lead would go as high as 24 while the Lions could only get it down to 16 points in the second half. UC Irvine starts 1-0 while the Lions are 0-1 for the first time under third year Head Coach Rodney Tention.

"The tougher team won tonight. They wanted it a little more, especially in the first half," said Tention. "We are learning, unfortunately, hat you can't just play hard when you are from behind, you have to play hard from the start."

Shawn Deadwiler led the Lions with a career-high 15 points while Marko Deric added 13. The Lions out rebounded the Anteaters 33-25 with three different players earning five boards. Freshmen Orlando Johnson, Tim Diederichs and Terron Sutton added nine, eight and eight points, respectively.

After Deadwiler's three-pointer made the score 10-9 with 13:41 to play, the Anteaters went on a 13-0 run that was fueled by three LMU turnovers. After an Orlando Johnson jumper, the Anteaters scored eight straight to make the score 31-11 with 7:10 to play. The last run included three more turnovers by the Lions, giving them six of its 14 first half turnovers during the decisive run.

"We did some things well, but we have to take beter care of the ball. In the first half we had 14 turnovers to their five, that is nine possessions and we were down 18 points," said Tention, whose Lions trailed 41-23 at the break. "In the second half we only had seven and shot 52 percent. We have to take care of the ball."

Turnovers and UC Irvine shooting hurt the Lions. LMU finished with 21 turnovers while UCI had just 11. The difference led to 26 points off turnovers for the Anteaters to just 11 for the Lions. UC Irvine finished the game shooting 53.8 percent to LMU's 44.9 percent.

"This was a good team, the type of teams we will see every game," said Tention. "We have players who are capable of playing. They have to challenge themselves to make plays like everyone else is doing. Their youth is not an excuse. This was another learning experience and we will be back at it again tomorrow getting ready for another good team in Arkansas Litle Rock."

The Lions will play their home opener against UALR on Monday, Nov. 12 at 7:05 p.m.

Fresno State - 75
Portland - 68

FRESNO, Calif. --- The University of Portland men's basketball team got off to a fast start with a double-digit first half lead, but Fresno State caught fire from three-point range and held on for a 75-68 win Friday evening in the season opener for both schools as part of the World Vision Classic hosted at the Save Mart Center.

Portland stunned the crowd of 10,432 by gaining a 13-point first half lead, but the Bulldogs drained 11-of-13 threes to end the first half and start the second half to gain a 16-point margin midway through the final period. The Pilots battled back and had the deficit cut to six points in the closing minutes, but Fresno State held on for the win.

Sophomore forward Robin Smeulders led the Pilots (0-1) with 17 points and nine rebounds off the bench. Freshman forward Luke Sikma added a double-double with 11 points and 13 rebounds, while sophomore Ethan Niedermeyer added 12 points.

Dwight O'Neil and Eddie Miller had 21 points and 20 respectively for the Bulldogs (1-0). The duo combined to make 9-of-16 three-point attempts. Senior point guard Kevin Bell added 12 points and five assists, but struggled by making just 6-of-11 free throws.

Portland started five underclassmen with sophomores Niedermeyer, Nik Raivio and Taishi Ito in the backcourt and freshmen Luke Sikma and Kramer Knutson in the post. The combination worked well as the young Pilots looked anything but inexperienced, taking a double digit lead at 21-10 on a three-pointer by Ito midway through the first period. Smeulders then drained a pair of free throws to give Portland its largest lead of the game at 23-10.

That's when the barrage began, as Miller and O'Neil took turns cashing in from long range. Miller's fall-away three in the final five seconds of the first half gave the Bulldogs a 28-27 edge going into the half, their first lead since the 18:36 mark of the first period.

Portland battled back after the break to take a 35-31 lead following jumpers by Sikma and Niedermeyer at the 16:23 mark. Three consecutive treys by the Bulldogs regained the lead at 42-37 and Fresno continued the hot shooting to push the margin to 16 points 58-42.

With the game nearly out of reach in the final five minutes, head coach Eric Reveno began fouling and extending the contest. Fresno State struggled from the line down the stretch and the Pilots were able to pull within six at 71-65 on a Smeulders jumper with 50 seconds remaining, but the Pilots would get no closer.

After starting 3-for-13 from downtown, the Bulldogs finished the game 13-for-26 from beyond the arc. Portland managed just 4-of-18 from the three-point line. The Pilots owned a 43-32 rebounding margin and 22-12 edge in points in the paint. Turnovers were costly, as Portland committed 19 which led to 30 points for Fresno State.

The Pilots will take the court again tomorrow for an 8 p.m. game against San Diego State, a 62-50 winner over Liberty in the tournament's opening game. The World Vision Classic concludes for the Pilots on Sunday with a 1 p.m. tipoff against Liberty.