LAHAINA, Hawaii — Chaminade’s players raced from the bench for hugs and chest bumps. The theme song from “Hawaii 5-0” blared through the Lahaina Civic Center as the Silverswords gathered on the Maui Invitational logo at midcourt and mugged it up for the TV cameras.
There was plenty of reason to celebrate. Another giant had fallen under the ‘Swords.
Dominating from start to finish, Division II Chaminade added California to its list of upsets at the Maui Invitational, drubbing the Bears 96-72 in the seventh-place game on Wednesday.
“I’ve been coming here for three years and this is the most special moment I’ve had,” said Walker, who was 7 for 10 from the 3-point arc. “It’s pretty awesome.”
The Silverswords (3-2) are most famous for their win over Ralph Sampson and top-ranked Virginia in 1982 and have pulled off the occasional upset in Maui.
Chaminade is 8-92 all-time since the first Maui Invitational in 1984, but most of the victories have been big ones for the tiny Catholic school from Honolulu: Texas (2012), Oklahoma (2010), Villanova (2003), Stanford (1992).
And now Cal.
Blown out in their first two Maui games, the Silverswords jumped on the listless Bears early and built a 10-point halftime lead. Cal made a push to start the second half, but Chaminade shoved back to stretch the lead to 20 and beyond.
The Silverswords shot 56 percent, made 14 of 25 from 3-point range and outscored Cal by 17 off the bench. Dantley Walker scored 23 points, Erik Scheive added 14 and everyone on Chaminade’s bench celebrated after the unexpectedly-easy upset.
“I had the same feeling that I had against Texas,” Chaminade coach Eric Bovaird said. “The last three, four minutes of the game seemed to go forever. You keep looking to the clock, looking to the clock. You think are they starting the clock on time because it doesn’t appear like it’s moving fast enough.”
Cal can’t get out of Maui fast enough.
Faced with what their coach called a must-win game, the Bears (2-4) came out flat and never recovered to leave Maui with three ugly losses.
Cal was slow on defense and off the mark on offense, hitting 5 of 18 from 3-point range. Justice Sueing led the Bears with 23 points.
“In all the years that I’ve been coaching, I’ve never been so embarrassed in my life from the lack of effort from our guys,” Cal first-year coach Wyking Jones said. “For me, it’s about going back to the drawing board, myself and my staff, and figuring out what changes we need to make because there definitely needs to be some changes.”
Cal opened the Maui Invitational by crumbling against No. 6 Wichita State’s full-court press, blowing an 18-point, second-half lead in a 92-82 loss. The Bears were never in their second game, falling behind early in a 14-point loss to VCU.
They didn’t play with much urgency against the scrappy Silverswords, quickly falling behind 6-0 and by 40-30 at halftime.
Chaminade has knocked off bigger opponents in the past by knocking down shots and the Silverswords were doing that in the first half, hitting 7 of 13 from the 3-point arc. Walker did most of the damage hitting 4 of 6 from 3-point range while scoring 14 points.
Cal seemed to have righted itself in the second half, working the ball inside to use its size advantage to pull within three in the opening 3 minutes. The Silverswords pushed back, going on a 13-0 run, stretching the lead to 55-39 with a string of 3-pointers to race away from the Bears.
Cal has a lot of work to do in its first season under Jones after three ugly losses in Maui, the worst one by 24 points to a Division II team.
Chaminade again proved itself to be a giant killer with a dominating performance that will help this Silverswords this season and beyond.
Cal was counting on a big contribution from Kentucky transfer Marcus Lee this season. He had little impact on two of the three games in Maui while battling foul trouble. Lee had two points in 11 minutes against Wichita State and four points in 14 minutes against Chaminade due to fouls. His only good game: 11 points and 12 rebounds against VCU, when he didn’t have foul trouble.
Cal hosts Cal State Northridge on Tuesday.
Chaminade hosts Cal State Dominguez Hills on Saturday.