Hot-shooting Lions win third straight

COSTA MESA — Vancouver Island Coach Tony Bryce had a two-word description for the arsenal of three-pointers imposed upon his team by host Vanguard in round-robin play at the four-team Bill Reynolds Classic on Friday.

"Lights ouwt," Bryce said with his thick Canadian accent, after Vanguard's 104-67 triumph at The Pit.

The Lions scored the first nine points of the game on three-pointers, made 10 for 13 from beyond the arc in the second half (76.9%) and finished 19 of 32 from distance for the game (59.4%).

The 19 three-pointers were a season high, as was the point total for Coach Rhett Soliday's Lions (9-4).

Christopher Kupets made his first four three-point attempts and had five three balls in the first 4:45 to help the hosts seize leads of 21-4, 31-9 and 42-17. Kupets finished five of nine from threedom for most of his 17 points.

Senior reserve Chris Pynch made four of six three-point tries on his way to a game-high 19 points, while senior Taylor Kelly netted all three of his long-range offerings en route to 14 points.

Sophomore reserve Brendan Holmes also was four of six from three-point range on his way to 12 points and senior Christopher Raybon was two for four from threedom on his way to 16 points.

Even junior forward Christino Zaragoza added a long ball, his first three-pointer of the season, as the Lions increased their season three-point proficiency from 36.6% to 39.2%.

"They were a tough guard on the perimeter," said Bryce, whose team fell to 5-7. "I didn't know they shot the ball that well. I knew a couple guys could sling it, but tonight it seemed like they were all shooting it well and that makes any team hard to guard. When you shoot [nearly] 60% from the three-point line — and some of those were deep and some of those were challenged — you've got a good chance of winning."

"The reality is, we do rely on the three ball a little and if we don't shoot well from the perimeter, we're going to struggle," said Soliday, for whom four of the top six available players average a shade below 6-foot. "We do have a lot of guys who can shoot, and when we get clean looks ..."

But Soliday was impressed with more than his team's shooting eye.

"I was pleased with the way we executed and I was especially pleased with our ability to put together back-to-back defensive efforts the way we did [including a 76-65 win over Gordon College of Massachusetts on Thursday]," Soliday said. "Two games in a row, we've really set the tone for the way we're going to play at the defensive end and dictate to the opponent."

It was the third win in a row and sixth in the last seven games for Vanguard, which continues to be beset by injuries.

The Lions return to Golden State Athletic Conference play on Tuesday at home against Westmont.

"I'm excited to be getting back into conference and we're hoping to get a couple of injured guys back," Soliday said. "If we get them back, we can have some depth and, hopefully, go after people."

The Lions got after the Mariners in every facet. Vanguard forced 16 turnovers, two more than it committed, and posted a 39-28 edge in rebounding. The Lions finished 35 of 63 from the field (55.6%) and netted 15 of 17 foul shots.

Four players had six rebounds to lead Vanguard, which received six assists from Raybon and Pynch.

Vancouver Island was 28 for 64 from the field (43.8%), but only five of 19 from three-point rage (26.3%) and six of 12 from the foul line.

Vanguard had 44 points in the paint to Vancouver Island's 20 and the Lions had 15 of the game's 17 fast-break points.

"Sometimes guys get in a zone and get hot and you've got to make [the Lions] do something different," Bryce said. "But by the time we made them do something different, we were down by 15 or 20 points and we had to battle back the whole game."

barry.faulkner@latimes.com

Twitter: @BarryFaulkner5

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Bill Reynolds Classic

Vanguard 104, Vancouver Island 67

VIU – McCarthy 17, Townsend-Gant 8, Thom 17, Davidson 10, Jones 3, Olsen 6, Verdel 2, McKee 2, Russell 2.

3-pt. goals – Townsend-Gant 2, Thom 2, Davidson 1.

Fouled out – None.

Technicals – None.

VU – Nettles 5, Thompson 6, Kupets 17, Raybon 16, Kelly 14, Pynch 19, Holmes 12, Kirschbaum 8, Hann 4, Zaragoza 3.

3-pt. goals – Kupets 5, Pynch 4, Holmes 4, Kelly 3, Raybon 2, Zaragoza 1.

Fouled out – None.

Halftime: 46-25, VU.

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