Las Vegas, NV – Wisconsin and St. Mary’s are headed to the finals of the Maui Invitational after second round wins over Houston and Oregon. the final will be played at 2pm local time with the third-place game scheduled for 11:30am. The consolation games will be tonight.
In the winner’s bracket, Wisconsin surprised No. 12-ranked Houston early by scoring the first 13 points of the game, helped by three three-pointers from Johnny Davis. The Badgers expended their lead to 26-9 before closing out the half on a 9-2 run to take a 40-20 lead into the break.
Houston, not a team to give up, made a game of it by scoring the first ten points out of the break to cut Wisconsin’s lead to ten points. The Cougars extended their defense and, helped by three consecutive three-pointers by Kyler Edwards, quickly got back into the game. Edwards finished with 18 points, making 6-of-8 3s. The lead stayed at about ten points until later in the half when the Cougars made another run led by Marcus Sasser (11 points). A three-pointer by Sasser cut the Badger lead to five points with 7:10 left and the game was close the rest of the wat. Another three from Sasser cut the deficit to three points with 3:38 left. The Badgers held them off, helped by a steal and dunk from Davis and two free throws from Brad Davison (9 points) after a questionable foul call. Houston cut the deficit to 65-63 on a late three-pointer from Edwards. After a Davis miss Houston had five seconds to ty to tie or win the game but a pass inside to Edwards was a bit too late and Wisconsin escaped with the 65-63 win. Davis was the difference in the game for the winners, scoring a career-high 30 points, on 10-18 shooting including 4-of-7 3s.
St. Mary’s topped Oregon 62-50 in the other semifinal. Oregon has been struggling offensively since getting blown out by BYU and tonight was more of the same. The Ducks managed only 15 first half points but did play good defense in forcing nine first half turnovers and trailed 23-15 at the break. Oregon shot only 25.9 percent in the half (7-of-27), did not make a three (0-of-4) and missed an assortment of jumpers, layups and even a dunk. Two key guards, Will Richardson and De’Vion Harmon played a total of 28 minutes and did not score. The Gaels’ Daniel Fotu seemed to be the only player able to hit shots, going 3-of-4 from the field in scoring 10 points.
The Ducks (3-2) played better in the second half, shooting over 50 percent (13-of-24) from the field but couldn’t get over the hump. Thet made 9-of-11 shots over a seven-minute run to close the deficit to eight points. But a charging call on Joseph Young (7 points) negated a basket and an Alex Ducas (12 points) three-pointer expanded the lead back to 11 points. Oregon didn’t seriously challenge the rest of the game. Eric Williams Jr. (13 points) led Oregon while Fotu ended the night with 16 points for the undefeated (6-0) Gaels. The Ducks got some energy from 6-11 Franck Kepnang, who made his first start and scored nine points, with three rebounds and three blocks over 19 minutes. He was limited somewhat with three first half fouls.
In the first consolation contest Texas A&M built an early lead and held off Butler 57-50 behind 15 points from Quenton Jackson. Henry Coleman, a 6-8, 245-pound forward, added eight points and ten rebounds before fouling out. Jair Bolden was the only Bulldog in double-figures with ten points.
The last Butler lead was 18-17. The Aggies outscored them 16-3 in the last 7:47 of the half helped by eight points from Jackson, including a last-second three-pointer. Butler made the game competitive in the second half, cutting the lead to three points with 27 seconds left on a layup by Chuck Harris (7 points) but could get no closer.
In the last game of the night Notre Dame (3-1) ran away from Chaminade 90-64. The Irish led by only three points (41-38) at the break but opened the second half on a 25-2 run to break it open. They hit 12-of-26 (46.2 percent) three-pointers. Nate Laszewski scored 15 points and grabbed 15 rebounds while Dane Goodwin scored 17 points to lead the winners. Notre Dame had six players scoring in double-figures.
The winners bracket completes play first with Oregon and Houston playing in the third-place game followed by Wisconsin and St. Mary’s in the championship game. The consolation games are tonight with Notre Dame vs. Texas A&M in the final game with Butler vs. Chaminade slated for 6pm.