SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Jet Chang zipped down the floor on a fast break and rather than take the ball all the way to the basket, he pulled up for a jumper near the baseline.
He was a little off balance on the shot but still managed to knock it down as BYU-Hawaii stretched its lead back to double digits (77-68) against Bloomfield in the second half of an NCAA Division II national quarterfinal Wednesday night at the MassMutual Center.
It was that kind of night for Chang and the Seasiders, who won this battle of seven seeds 96-89, and continued their quest for a championship.
Chang has been crucial to the success of the Seasiders (21-8) all season, averaging 17.3 points per game, and his 22-point effort against the Deacons (24-9) was business as usual. The junior guard also dished out five assists.
“I was able to hit some shots but I also did a good job of getting the ball to my teammates,” Chang said. “My goal was to do what I could to help our team win this game. It feels great to be moving on.”
Chang not only left quite an impression on the fans in attendance, but he also impressed Bloomfield head coach Gerald Holmes, whose team had no answer for the BYU-Hawaii star and saw its remarkable run through the tourney come to an end.
“He is a heck of a player and we had a lot of trouble trying to defend him,” Holmes said. “He did what he wanted tonight, and you have to give him credit for the way he played.”
Bloomfield trailed 44-37 at halftime and was actually within 52-48 with 14:52 remaining after a 3-pointer by Art Ellis.
But Chang and his talented cast of teammates never let the Deacons get any closer, forcing turnovers and moving the ball around to get the best shot off as the Seasiders earned a trip to the national semifinals and a date with the top-ranked team in the nation in West Liberty State.
Six players scored in double figures for BYU-Hawaii. Jake Dastrup pumped in 16 points, Marques Whippy and Gary Satterwhite scored 12 points apiece while Rory Patterson and Ale Okesene finished with 10 points apiece. The Seasiders shot a blistering 60.9 percent, including a 70 percent shooting performance in the final 20 minutes of action.
“They made us play ugly at times, which was one of my concerns, but I was proud of the way our guys played,” BYU-Hawaii head coach Ken Wagner said. “We had a lot of guys step up, but I give a lot of credit to Jet and Marques for being such great leaders out there. They have played at a high level all year.”
The Seasiders did have to overcome a tremendous effort by senior guard Gage Daye. Daye played his heart out, pouring in 34 points on a night when the Deacons shot 45.8 percent from the field.
His amazing effort, however, just wasn’t enough to keep the season alive for Bloomfield.
“We tried to slow him down as much as possible,” Wagner said. “He is a great shooter and makes good decisions. He was very tough to defend.”
BYU-Hawaii not only had to battle a strong Bloomfield team, but it also had to fight through a time zone change and colder weather. Snow fell here in Springfield on Wednesday and the players weren’t too thrilled about it.
“My toes were freezing when we were walking over to the gym,” Whippy said. “We are happy about playing here but we aren’t too happy with the weather. It was nice to play inside.”
As has been the case since late in the season, the Seasiders also worked well as a team once again, which has been the key to their tournament run. The Seasiders tallied 18 assists in the win.
“We don’t have the most talented team, but we have good teamwork and we play with a lot of heart,” Whippy said. “It was the key to our success tonight and we are excited about having another opportunity to play.”