Men ride wave to 1-2 at Maui

Leslie Combs

Five games, six days and three time zones later bearing a 3-2 record, the men’s whirlwind initiation into the 2003-04 basketball season came to an end when the ‘Cats returned from the EA Sports Maui Invitational Thanksgiving weekend. The short-handed ‘Nova squad only managed a sixth place finish in the eight team Feast Week tourney.

The ‘Cats fell to the Division II host Chaminade 52-49 in the first round Nov. 24. Playing seven players, while the rest remained sidelined serving suspensions for NCAA violations regarding misuse of a university telephone access code, ‘Nova suited up without sophomore Curtis Sumpter, while Chris Charles rotated into the forward slot besides freshman Will Sheridan.

Nova managed to comeback from an eight-point halftime deficit in the second, only to watch the Silverswords’ Kashif Reyes, a Reading, Pa., native, knock two in a row from behind the arc in the final two minutes to put Chaminade on top for good. The ‘Cats had a chance to tie the game at the buzzer, but Randy Foye’s attempt from downtown bounced off the rim. The win marked the first time Chaminade won in the Maui Invitational since 1992, bringing its tournament record to 4-53. Allan Ray led the ‘Cats with 19 points, with Foye scoring 12 and adding seven assists. Charles led the team with 12 rebounds and contributed with eight points. Roy Stigall scored 14 for the Silverswords and Sam Henning collected 12 points and 11 rebounds.

The loss placed ‘Nova in the consolation bracket where they faced Santa Clara on Nov. 25, after the Broncos lost to Hawaii in the first round. This time, the ‘Cats only used six players and forced overtime in the final seconds when Ray’s three-pointer followed by Foye’s successful trip to the line, tied the score at 47. Sumpter’s final two from the charity stripe with 2.3 seconds left on the clock gave ‘Nova its 53-51 win. Both Sumpter and Foye led the ‘Cats with 16 points, while Kyle Bailey led the Broncos with 12.

The win pitted ‘Nova against Ohio State who lost to San Diego in the first round, but beat Central Michigan to set up the Nov. 26 match-up against the ‘Cats. Tony Stockman’s 17 points in the first half helped put the Buckeyes up by 15 at intermission, but ‘Nova rallied in the second and with less than two minutes left, brought the score within one at 64-63. An impressive drive by Stockman allowed Ohio State to widened the gap to three. Foye’s missed three with 15 seconds left forced ‘Nova to foul Brandon Fuss Cheatem and send him to the line, where he hit one of two, to increase the Buckeye lead to 67-63. Mike Nardi’s three at the buzzer left the ‘Cats with a sixth place finish as Ohio State took fifth winning 67-66.

Sumpter sat on the sidelines serving his final suspension while Ray topped the ‘Cats stats with 21 points, while Foye added 18 points and eight assists. The Buckeyes were led by Terence Dials’ 12 points, as the team shot an impressive 54.3 percent from the field. The Maui Invitational concluded later that night when Dayton knocked off Hawaii 82-72 to win the Thanksgiving trophy. Before flying to Hawaii, the ‘Cats stopped off at the Div. III College of Redlands on Nov. 22, where the fast-paced game produced scoring records on both sides of the ball for the ‘Cats. The men eventually wore the Bulldogs down, securing a 114-103 victory. The game marked the second time in two days that the men shot over 60 percent from the field, the first coming in the ‘Cats dominant 73-48 opener against Big 5 rival Temple on Nov. 21.

The ‘Cats return to the Main Line for a week of rest before they face LaSalle in the Big 5 Classic Dec. 6 at 8 p.m. at the Palestra.