LAHAINA, Hawaii — Chaminade guard Steven Bennett is looking for the game ball. Let’s hope he finds it, because he and his teammates earned that trophy.
The NCAA Division II Silverswords defeated Oklahoma 68-64 on Wednesday in the seventh-place game of the Maui Invitational. In terms of name recognition, it’s a huge upset. In basketball terms, less so. Chaminade gave everybody a warning by leading No. 2 Michigan State in the second half.
Bennett, who put the Silverswords ahead for good with a layup with 16 seconds to play, wants the ball for the school trophy case.
“I don’t have my hands on that, but I’m looking for it right now,” Bennett said. “I’m going to make sure I keep it. I want to always remember it.”
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Bennett threw a changeup at the Sooners for his go-ahead basket.
“I like to go to my strong hand all the time,” he said. “I gave him a nice little jab to my left hand, and he bit. I crossed over and went right. That might have been the first time I went right all game.”
Chaminade, famous for its 1982 upset of No. 1 Virginia in a non-tournament game, improved its Maui Invitational record to 6-73. It won for the first time since beating Princeton in 2007, adding the Sooners to a list that includes Davidson (1984), Providence (1991), Stanford (1992) and Villanova (2003).
“We’ll remember this game forever,” Chaminade coach Matt Mahar said.
Chaminade won it with a three-pronged attack that OU could not contain.
Bennett, a 5-foot-6 guard, scored 14 points and handed out four assists without a turnover. Shane Hanson scored 23 points, making 5 of 11 threes. Center Mamadou Diarra finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds. His free throws with eight seconds to play sealed the win. Diarra made all five of his free throws Wednesday after entering the game 5 of 11 from the line.
“I didn’t want it to go into overtime,” Diarra said. “I had a good feeling in my hand.”
Hanson made three of his threes and scored 13 points in the second half. He scored 11 straight points in the second half to keep Chaminade ahead late in the game.
Most of his action came off the pick-and-pop with Bennett, much to the frustration of OU coach Jeff Capel.
“He did exactly what we told our guys he was going to do,” Capel said. “He was the only one that was hitting threes for them, and we left him open.”
An 0-3 stay in Maui gives Capel lots to work on. The Sooners started strong with a good effort against No. 12 Kentucky on Monday. Tuesday’s effort against Virginia and Wednesday’s loss send the Sooners home in a mess.
“We’re a fragile group,” Capel said.
While Capel praised Chaminade, he revealed what troubles the Sooners.
“They understand their roles,” he said. “They’re a really good basketball team, the second-best team we’ve played this year behind Kentucky.”
What it means — The celebration at Chaminade will last for days, with good reason.
Mahar uses the three days in Maui as a major recruiting tool. If you are an NCAA Division II player, few things are more appealing than a chance to show what you can do on ESPN. Bennett, Diarra and Hanson all confirmed that.
“The tournament is truly everything for us,” Mahar said. “I don’t think I could have recruited any of them here without that tournament.”
Bennett’s first thoughts went to family members in Los Angeles.
“As a 5-6 player, a lot of people might look over me on the court,” he said. “So I was like, if I get an opportunity to go to a certain school and get on ESPN that would be a dream come true.”
Frequent flyer — Shocker Radio play by play voice Mike Kennedy probably deserves a break after three games in three days.
Breaks are for summer, after baseball, for Kennedy.
He departed from Maui late Wednesday night on his way to Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He is scheduled to arrive, after stops in San Francisco and Denver, at 2:25 p.m. today. On Friday, he will call WSU’s volleyball match in the MVC Tournament at Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls.
Most of the traveling party, players, coaches and fans, will leave Friday evening.
“As beautiful as it is here, I’m not a beach person,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy wanted to work the volleyball tournament, something he hasn’t done since he started calling the sport six seasons ago. Basketball always interfered, until this season. The Shockers helped by securing the No. 2 seed, meaning Kennedy didn’t need to hustle to the gym for a match tonight.
“That’s the real saver,” he said. “That would have been touch and go, especially with no sleep.”
No beach for you — The Maui Invitational will grow to 12 teams in 2011.
Only eight — seven high-profile schools and Chaminade — will play in Hawaii. Four low-profile schools are designated as “Mainland” teams and will play at the “Maui-bound” teams from Nov. 11-17. On Nov. 19-20, the Mainland teams will play two games against each other.
Starting Nov. 21, the seven Maui teams and Chaminade will begin play in the Lahaina Civic Center. In addition to the host school, Kansas, Duke, Georgetown, Memphis, UCLA, Tennessee and Michigan will play in Hawaii. The four Mainland teams are not determined.