Silverswords’ Win Streak Keeps Heat On For PacWest Finals
With a 10-game win streak heading into its season finale last weekend, the Chaminade men’s basketball team has been among the hottest in the nation over the last month.
To seal the deal and punch their ticket for the NCAA Division II tourney, the Swords will need a strong showing this week at the PacWest Conference tournament at Azusa Pacific.
The top eight Western Region teams will earn berths in the NCAA Tourney, which will begin in the coming days at various sites nationwide. Chaminade was ranked seventh in the latest poll, with another poll coming out Monday. A closer look follows as the Swords head into the season’s most critical week.
Head coach: Eric Bovaird Record at press time: 17-8 overall (14-3 in PacWest)
Signature wins: Plenty to choose from, but it’s hard to top their upset win (86-73) over Division I Texas in the first round of the Maui Invitational in November. Also noteworthy was the blowout of Dominican (90-63) on the road Jan. 21. The Swords also recovered from a huge first-half deficit to defeat BYU-Hawaii 87-81 on the road Feb. 2 and also beat BYUH at home 75-64 Feb. 9.
Bad losses: None MVP to date: Senior guard De’Andre Haskins has been on a mission to close out his Chaminade career in style, beginning at the Maui Invitational when he lit up Big Twelve Conference team Texas for 32 points to help fuel the Swords’ upset win. He’s been a consistent force, having entered last weekend as the PacWest’s second-leading scorer (at 18.5 point per game) and fifth-leading rebounder (at 7.3 per game).
Instant offense: Senior guard Bennie Murray has complemented Haskins nicely, averaging 17.2 points per game, which rates fifth overall in the PacWest. He’s also proved to be a durable player at about 31 minutes per game.
Impact player to watch: Point guard Lee Bailey. One of the most decorated recruits to ever play at CU, Bailey has lived up to the hype with a stellar sophomore season. He’s currently fourth in the PacWest in minutes played at 33.2 per outing and is second in free throws (84.1 percent).
Did you know? Since Christmas, Chaminade’s record is 14-1.
Key to a successful post-season run: The Swords need to maintain their offensive efficiency, especially on the perimeter where they were among the PacWest’s best. Bovaird’s high-flying offense is firmly in place now, and the rewards are coming, as the team averaged a league-best 9.2 three-pointers per game during the PacWest season. The Swords also are second in the league in turnover margin.