IRVINE, Calif. – Senior point guard Robbie Mitchell put together one of his best overall games to lead No. 23 BYU-Hawaii men's basketball to an 84-79 victory over No. 19 Cal Baptist for the PacWest Championship title on Saturday at Concordia University Arena.
Mitchell scored a season-high 18 points to go with four steals and four rebounds. Senior guard Pablo Coro battled off physical, defensive pressure to score 14 points on 4-of-5 shooting. Scott Friel and Danny Berger both added 11 points apiece and had a combined nine rebounds.
Friel was named the tournament MVP, while Berger and sophomore center Ian Harward were named to the all-tournament team. Gelaun Wheelwright scored 25 points for the Lancers and Taj Spencer added 16 on their way to being selected to the all-tournament team as well.
BYU-Hawaii (24-5, 15-5 PacWest) finished the game shooting 48.3 percent from the field and 50 percent from behind the arc, while holding Cal Baptist (24-6, 16-4 PacWest) to 34.8 percent from 3-point range. The difference in the game came from the free-throw line, where the Seasiders hit 17-of-18 to seal the victory down the stretch.
Cal Baptist brought a one-point lead into the second half, but a jumper from Berger gave the Seasiders the lead for good. Berger added seven more points during the massive 17-0 run to make it a 53-39 game with 13:36 remaining in regulation. BYU-Hawaii withstood everything the Lancers could throw at them the rest of the way to hold onto the lead.
Cal Baptist took advantage early, breaking a 10-10 tie with an 8-0 run off two 3-pointers and a dunk, but BYU-Hawaii refused to go away. Mitchell drained a short jumper followed by a layup from Friel to cut the lead in half with 12:16 left in the first half.
Luke Aston, Jordan Stone, Tyler Tuliau and Berger each scored buckets to set up a layup for Mitchell that tied the game up at 29-29 with 2:34 on the first-half clock. A 3-pointer by Cory Lange gave the Seasiders their first lead of the game at 32-31, but the Lancers scored four of the final six points to take the 35-34 lead into the break.
Mitchell led the team with nine points and added two rebounds in the first half, while Tuliau contributed six points, two rebounds and two assists.
After BYU-Hawaii's 17-0 run, the Lancers were able to cut the Seasider lead down to five with 6:58, but another 3-pointer from Lange gave BYU-Hawaii an eight-point lead.
The game wasn't over as Cal Baptist kept battling, but the Seasiders were able to keep them at bay from the charity stripe to make it a 70-63 game with 2:41 left in the game.
Wheelwright hit two, incredible 3-pointers make it a one possession game at 82-79 with 11 seconds left, but Mitchell was perfect on two free throws to push the lead back to five. Wheelwright's heave on the other side of the court fell short and Mitchell grabbed the rebound to punch the Seasiders ticket to the NCAA Regionals.
BYU-Hawaii will wait to find out its opponent Sunday at 4:30 p.m. HST during the NCAA Selection Show. The show will be streamed online on the NCAA website.