PASADENA, Calif. (May 1, 2016) – The fourth annual SoCal Senior Showcase came down to the wire as Division II held off Division III, 126-123, in a battle between graduating players from Southern California colleges and universities on Sunday afternoon. Playing in their school uniforms for the last time, the seniors put on an entertaining event that ended in the most competitive showcase to date.
The game featured five ties and eight lead changes, and although the DII team pulled ahead by double digits toward the end of the third quarter, the DIII squad made one final charge to close out the contest. Caltech's Rob Anderson and Kc Emezie played with the DII team, giving them a chance to be coached by Beavers assistant Dave Briski one more time. Caltech's Jordan Mast coached the DIII team.
Cal State Easy Bay's (CSEB) Alex Carmon started the scoring action with a driving layup to put DII on the board first. Cal Lutheran's Dan Wade converted a free throw for DIII, but DII extended its lead 7-1 on a patented Kc Emezie drive and a 3-pointer by CSEB's big man, Ryan Okwudibonye. DIII roared right back thanks to an Andrew Torres (Whittier) layup and a trifecta by Wade off an Eric Jennings (Whittier) assist. But Robert Anderson nailed a 3 as soon as he entered to put DII up 10-6. Consecutive layups by Okwudibonye and Carmon gave DII its largest lead of the quarter, 14-6, but an exciting spurt by DIII was initiated by a Ben Maynard (Whittier) 3-pointer and paint scores by Brian Stiver (La Verne) and Mike Atwater (Chapman). A nifty Magic-like bounce pass from Jennings tied the score at 21 with 4:33 left in the first quarter. Cal St. Los Angeles guard Duce Zaid banged a 3, but Stiver returned the favor with an uncharacteristic shot from deep. Then DIII finished the quarter with a layup by La Verne's Nick Lewis, a dancing 3 from Torres, and an acrobatic lay in by Wade. DIII led 35-31 after one period.
The second stanza continued with up-and-down action as the teams traded buckets. DIII extended its lead to 5 but DII stormed back to take a 3-point lead on back-to-back treys by Munzon and Anderson. However, Jennings, Lewis, and Stiver combined to push DIII back in front, 52-45, with 4:54 left. Carmon converted a dazzling baseline reverse up-and-under and Jennings responded with a layup to keep the cushion at 7, but then DII took over. Zaid scored 9 of the final DII points, including a 3-pointer with 16 ticks, as his team outscored DIII with a 15-4 spurt to make it 62-56.
Maynard hit a 3 to open the third quarter, Jennings nailed a pullup off a Stiver pick, and Torres executed a nifty pocket pass that Atwater later converted and DIII regained the lead, 63-62. A Maynard floater and a Nash-like Torres wraparound dribble left Stiver with another layup before Munzon evened the score with a deep 3. Jennings made another 3 to maintain a DIII edge, but when Emezie scored in transition, DII took the lead for good.
DII went to the well with Okwudibonye post touches and paint points. Meanwhile, the DII guards continued to make plays and Munzon rocked the rim with a high-flying slam. DII racked up its lead to as many as 15, 105-90, with 10:09 left in the fourth.
The DIII all-stars weren't finished, however, and put together a 23-10 run over six minutes and a 9-0 run during a 3 minute span to pull within 2, 115-113. DII seemed to put the game out of reach when Carmon stole the ball and sent it to Munzon for a rim-rocking one-handed jam but Lewis hit two treys to keep DIII in striking distance. Anderson hit a free throw to give DII a two-possession lead and Munzon finished the game with a ferocious two-handed dunk before Wade hit a 3 at the buzzer to complete the great game.
Okwudibonye had a game-high 32 points and 22 rebounds. Zaid (27 points, 13 rebounds, and 5 assists) Carmon (27, 8, and 10), and Munzon (23, 10, and 5) all flirted with triple-doubles. Anderson and Emezie scored 9 and 8, respectively, and finished their Caltech careers with a win on their home court.
All seven DIII all-stars put up double figures in points as Wade led the way with 23. Jennings was 7 of 10 from the field and closed in on a triple-double with 18 points, 12 boards, 8 assists, and 3 steals. Atwater posted 22 points and 11 rebounds while Torres (17), Maynard (15), Lewis (15), and Stiver (13) all contributed to the DIII scoring total.
A very well-played game resulted in just 13 turnovers for each team – NBA time was in effect with 12-minute quarters and a 24-second shot clock. DIII shot 47.6 percent from the field and was 10 of 20 from 3 in the second half. DII held a 71-53 advantage on the boards and DIII shot 81.8 percent from the free throw line.