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WCC Men's Basketball Recaps

Dec. 21, 2007

Portland - 70
Northern Colorado - 63

PORTLAND, Ore. --- The Portland Pilots went 10-for-10 from the free throw line in the final 1:06 to seal a 70-63 victory over the Northern Colorado Bears Friday night at the Chiles Center. Sophomore guard Nik Raivio led all scorers with 15 points for the Pilots.

After leading the entire first half and the first part of the second period, the Bears (5-6) overcame a 16-point deficit to take the lead midway through the second period. Portland (4-8) quickly regained the lead on a layup by freshman center Kramer Knutson with 11:12 to play and not relinquish the lead, but never could push the margin higher than six points until the closing seconds.

Leading by two with 3:10 remaining, both teams came up scoreless over the next two minutes before Portland senior Sherrard Watson nailed a pair of free throws with 1:06 left. Taishi Ito then drew a charging foul on UNC's ensuing possession and Ito would go on to hit six straight free throws to ice the game.

Watson added 14 points on 4 of 6 shooting from the field. Raivio grabbed five rebounds and handed out four assists without a single turnover. Knutson and fellow freshman Jared Stohl had nine apiece.

Robert Palacios paced UNC with 13 points and six rebounds, including a perfect 6-for-6 from the field. Junior forward Jabril Banks, the Bears leading scorer at 14.3 points per game entering the contest, was held to seven points.

Portland led 38-25 at the half, but the Bears used an 18-4 run capped by a Palacios layup to take a 43-42 lead. The Pilots were held scoreless for nearly six minutes during the run.

"We grinded it out and that's something to feel good about," Portland head coach Eric Reveno said. "Our guys made good, physical plays defensively down the stretch. On the other hand, we need to be more consistent on defense and rebounding and minimize the mistakes in our offensive execution."

Portland shot 44 percent from the field and 77 percent at the foul line, while UNC shot 43 percent from the floor. The Bears also gained a 32-28 edge on the boards, becoming just the third opponent this season to outrebound the Pilots. The Bears committed 20 turnovers to Portland's 15.

"We are now at a stage where we don't want to take comfort in just getting better," Reveno added. "We need to win games and tonight was important in that regard."

The Pilots will take a break over the Holidays before returning to the Chiles Center for a game against Cascade College on Saturday, Dec. 29 at 7 p.m.

Saint Mary's - 89
East Tennessee State - 65

Honolulu, HI - Diamon Simpson and Carlin Hughes scored 15 points each and were two of six Gaels to score in double figures, as Saint Mary's posted an 89-65 win over East Tennessee State in the semifinals of the Outrigger Hotels Rainbow Classic on Friday evening. The win was monumental for SMC, as it was the 111th of the career for head coach Randy Bennett, which sets a new school record for coaching victories.

With the Gaels now off to a 9-1 start this season, Randy Bennett has guided Saint Mary's to a 111-84 record in his seven seasons. James Weaver, who ended his career at SMC following the 1961-62 season, held the previous record of 110 wins. Weaver also coached at SMC for seven seasons.

The Gaels played great team basketball in the win over East Tennessee State, as six players scored in double figures and the team dished out 17 assists. Hughes scored all 15 of his points from behind the arc, shooting 5-of-9 from 3-point land. Hughes, who helped SMC shoot 45.8 percent (11-24) from beyond the arc, made a half-court shot as time expired in the first half.

Diamon Simpson scored 15 points to match Hughes for team-high honors, but where he shined was on the glass, as he collected a game-high 12 rebounds with five coming on the offensive end of the floor. For Simpson, it marked the fourth double-double of the season, and 11th of his career. The double-digit rebounds marks the six time he's had 10 or more rebounds this season and the 15th time his done that in his career.

Yusef Smith and Lucas Walker came of the bench against the Buccaneers to score career-highs for the Gaels. Smith did most of his damage in the first half, scoring nine points in 11 first half minutes. His dunk with 1:47 remaining gave him 11 points, notching just his second double-digit performance of his career. Smith also had seven rebounds in 14 minutes of action. Walker was efficient in his 16 minutes as he had a career-high 12 points while shooting 4-for-4 from the floor, 1-for-1 from three, and 3-for-4 from the line. He also pulled down five rebounds.

Rounding out the Gaels' double-digit scorers was Omar Samhan, who scored eight points in the first five minutes of the second half. Leading scorer, Patrick Mills had 11 points to go along with a career-high eight assists.

As a team, SMC shot 55.4 percent from the field, making 31-of-56 shots in the game. The Gaels held ETSU to 37.5 percent shooting from the floor and 25.0 percent from 3-point land. East Tennessee State entered the game shooting 48 percent from the floor and 43 percent from 3-point land. SMC also out rebounded the Bucs 35-29.

Saint Mary's opened the game with a basket by Omar Samhan, and after threes by Mills and Todd Golden, the Gaels held an 8-4 lead. Simpson then scored six straight to give SMC a 14-7 lead less than four minutes into the game. ETSU cut the SMC lead to 14-12, but a 12-0 run opened a 14-point lead for the Gaels with just under 10 minutes remaining in the half.

Saint Mary's opened a 20-point lead at 37-17 following a running 3-pointer by Carlin Hughes as the shot clock expired at the 5:50 mark of the half. Following the 23-5 run by SMC, the Buccaneers used a 10-0 run over the next 1:52 to cut the Gaels' lead to 37-27. ETSU cut the deficit to single digits when Kevin Tiggs hit a pair of free throws with 3:29 left in the half. After two free throws by Simpson, East Tennessee State scored seven straight points to cut SMC's lead to 41-37 with 50 seconds left on the clock.

A three-pointer by Hughes as the first half buzzer sounded ended a 5:50 field goal drought by the Gaels. During the 20-4 run by the Buccaneers, SMC made just two free throws. SMC went to the locker room with a 44-37 advantage after leading 37-17 with 5:50 left in the first half.

Saint Mary's extended is first half lead to 13 points (57-44) at the 14:15 mark, and after ETSU went on an 8-2 run to cut SMC's lead to seven, the Gaels went on an 14-0 run to extend its lead to 73-52 following 3-pointers from Hughes and Walker. SMC's lead reached 22 points (78-56) following the fifth three of the game by Hughes and a lay-up by Tron Smith with 5:46 remaining in the game.

Saint Mary's will play in the championship game of the Rainbow Classic on Saturday against the winner of the Ohio/Louisiana-Lafayette game. The game will begin at 7:30 p.m. Hawaii Time from the Stan Sheriff Center.

Saint Mary's versus East Tennessee State Game Notes:
• Randy Bennett sets SMC wins record with 111 coaching victories.
• Yusef Smith matched his career-high with 11 points
• Simpson had his fourth double-double of the season and 11th of his career with 15 points and 12 rebounds
• Simpson's 12 rebounds marks the sixth double-digit rebound game of the season and 15th of his career.
• Lucas Walker had a career high with 12 points
• Patrick Mills had a career-high 8 assists
• Carlin Hughes tied his career-high with five made 3-pointers, going 5-of-9 from beyond the arc.
• With 11 made 3-pointers, Saint Mary's made 10 threes in a game for the fourth time this season.

Manhattan - 80
Pepperdine - 79

RIVERDALE, N.Y. - Twenty-six turnovers, including one in the final seconds, doomed the Pepperdine men's basketball team's effort at Manhattan on Friday night as the Waves fell 80-79.

The Waves went 0-3 on their three-game cross-country trip and dropped to 5-9 overall. Manhattan improved to 7-4.

Freshman guard Tyrone Shelley (San Diego, Calif./Crawford HS) recorded his first career double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Freshman forward Malcolm Thomas (San Diego, Calif./Crawford HS) had a game-high 18 points along with eight rebounds.

Down by three at 79-76 with 15 seconds left, the Waves caught a break when the Jaspers missed an open layup. Needing a three-pointer, Pepperdine didn't get a shot off as the team turned the ball over for the final time with six seconds left. Manhattan then clinched the game by making one of two free throws. Shelley hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to provide the final margin.

"It was very frustrating," Pepperdine Coach Vance Walberg said. "We were so close, and we're so young, and unfortunately we keep making the same mistakes, so it's very frustrating. We had more than our fair share of chances to win the game. We just have to learn to trust one another better."

The game featured nine lead changes and 12 ties. The Waves trailed at halftime for the 13th time in 14 games but only by one point at 38-37.

Junior guard Rico Tucker (San Diego, Calif./University HS/Minnesota) made a three-point play to give the Waves a 44-42 lead with 17 minutes left, but that would be the last Pepperdine lead, as the Jaspers went on a 15-3 run to take a double-digit lead at 57-47 with 12 minutes left. Still, the Waves evened the game up with a run of their own, as a 12-2 spurt tied the game at 64-64 with 6:20 to play.

Pepperdine also tied the game at 66-66 and 68-68, but Manhattan scored the next five points and never trailed again.

Freshmen scored more than half of the Waves' points for the 14th time in 14 games, notching 52 of the 79 points (65.8%).

The Waves next take two weeks off for the holidays before returning with their 10th straight game away from home as they visit second-ranked Memphis on Saturday, January 5. Fans can listen to Al Epstein's call of the action at www.pepperdinesports.com.