Story Links

Nov 25, 2002

Box Score?|?Photo Gallery

AP Basketball Writer

LAHAINA, HawaiiPete Gillen wasn’t taking any chances of history repeating itself two decades later.

The Virginia coach sent his best player back into the game early in the second half with four fouls, and it turned out to be the difference between a scare and an upset.

Travis Watson took over inside in the second half, and Virginia beat Chaminade 86-72 Monday in the opening round of the Maui Invitational.

Meeting just one month before the 20th anniversary of Chaminade’s win over then-No. 1 Virginia – considered the biggest upset in college basketball history – the sides kept this game close for about 25 minutes. Then the 6-foot-8 Watson made his presence felt, and he finished with 16 points and 14 rebounds.

Despite playing with four fouls, Watson scored the first six points in a 19-3 run that gave Virginia a 66-50 lead with 8:48 to play. Watson also blocked a 3-point attempt, grabbed several rebounds and cleared out the lane as the Cavaliers (2-0) took control.

“I’m not real smart but I didn’t think we could win without him,” Gillen said. “It was a gamble but I said, `Let’s play with our best player in there.’ We had to play to win, not play not to lose.”

The Silverswords (0-2) got no closer than 12 points the rest of the way.

Sophomore Elton Brown had a career-high 22 points, and Devin Smith added 16 for Virginia, which advanced to Tuesday’s semifinals against Arizona State or No. 15 Kentucky.

Roy Stigall scored 18 points for Chaminade, the Division II host of the tournament.

Chaminade, then a member of the NAIA, beat Virginia and three-time national player of the year Ralph Sampson 77-72 on Dec. 23, 1982. Sampson was on hand for a brief ceremony Monday at the Lahaina Civic Center along with eight members of that Chaminade team and coach Merv Lopes.

“This was a lose-lose situation for us,” Gillen said. “We were set up for an execution on national TV. This was a character win for us.”

About 200 Chaminade fans, complete with blue Thunder Stix, made the trip over from Oahu hoping to see another upset, but their cheering was muted when Watson stepped up.

Watson picked up his fourth foul 1:28 into the second half and went to the bench. Gillen couldn’t keep the senior there for long as the Silverswords hung tough.

As soon as Watson returned, he used his size and experience to dominate the game during the run. His inside presence allowed Virginia to start making outside shots. After going 0-for-8 from 3-point range in the first half, the Cavaliers hit consecutive 3s late in the run. Virginia finished 4-for-17 on 3s.

“As soon as Travis came back in he told me, `If I foul out, I foul out,”‘ Brown said. “He knew we needed him and he played like a soldier.”

The double-double was Watson’s second of the season and 40th of his career, the most of any active player in the ACC.

The loss dropped Chaminade to 3-50 in the tournament and was its 28th straight defeat. The Silverswords’ last win was in double overtime against Stanford in the seventh-place game in 1992.

“Our guys battled on the boards but they were big and athletic,” Chaminade coach Aaron Greis said. “We played Virginia like we would anybody else. We knew Watson was an All-American and we got him in foul trouble by design by attacking him.”

Stigall said the Silverswords went in thinking win, not moral victory.

“Going in we had no doubts we could win and we had that mentality the whole game,” he said. “We were there in the second half but after a while guys like Watson and Brown start to wear and tear on you.”

Print Friendly Version