The Chaminade Silverswords have earned the reputation of playing the biblical role of David at home in Hawaii, with upset wins over Goliaths such as SMU and Louisville to their credit this year. But to the other small colleges they play, the roles are reversed.
Against Point Loma Nazarene College Thursday night before a lively and vocal Golden Gymnasium crowd of 2,000, however, Chaminade prevailed, 71-64.
Not that the Crusaders were any pushovers, though. They jumped out to an early 11-3 lead and extended it to 21-11 before the Silverswords realized they had better start playing too.
Chaminade scrambled back behind the play of center Tony Randolph, who scored 10 of his 16 points in the first half to take a 32-30 lead into the locker room.
And even when the Silverswords opened a 51-42 lead with 11:08 left on some remarkable outside shooting by guard Keith Whitney, who scored 16 of his 20 points down that particular stretch, the Crusaders still didn't give up.
Greg Kimbrell helped lead the comeback, scoring 6 of the Crusaders next 8 points to pull them within three with 9:10 remaining. He made another key basket with 3:56 left to pull them within a single point, 58-59, and gave Point Loma its only lead of the second half moments later on a short jumper to make the score 60-59 with 3:23 left.
However, Chaminade converted on 6 of 8 free throws down the stretch to hold on for the win. "I think we just got the breaks down towards the end, all the calls seemed to go our way," Chaminade coach Merv Lopes said. "That was the key, giving our guys a chance to get on the free throw line.
"We've been struggling lately, this is a big win for us. I'll take them any way we can get them, this one was not easy."
It was their first in three tries on their only venture off the island this season. Chaminade had suffered losses to Biola and Cal State Los Angeles before getting the victory against Point Loma.
Whitney attributed the two road losses to overconfidence spawned in the wake of the wins over SMU and Louisville, both top 20 teams.