Three months ago the California Pacific Conference men's basketball coaches submitted their predictions for the upcoming conference season. Those predictions are very close to where the teams rank as all the programs dive into Cal Pac action this week. Benedictine-Mesa, tabbed to finish first, sits on top of the standings at 2-0, while Cal Maritime, selected to finish second, is tied with Antelope Valley at 1-0. The Keelhaulers will visit the Redhawks in Mesa, Ariz., this Thursday for a key game early in the campaign. Pacific Union, which received votes in the recent NAIA national poll, and Embry-Riddle are both 1-1 in Cal Pac play. UC Merced, La Sierra, and Simpson are all looking for their first conference victory.
Tuesday, December 20
SAN DIEGO CHRISTIAN 82, LA SIERRA 62: The Hawks clipped the Golden Eagles in a non-conference matchup in Riverside, Calif. Kyle Hamilton led three LSU players in double figures with 12 points as Eduardo Gomez del Casal and Lance Jones each added 10 points. Gomez del Casal pulled down a 17 rebounds to record his fourth double-double of the season. The Golden Eagles remain winless in 13 games this season.
ANTELOPE VALLEY 73, LIFE PACIFIC 58: The Pioneers rolled past the Warriors on the second day of the UAV December Classic in Lancaster, Calif. UAV, now 5-6 overall, avenged a loss to LPC a month ago, but it started out well for the Warriors. LPC opened up an eight-point lead at the half, holding UAV to just 30 percent shooting from the floor and only nine percent from the 3-point line. But the Pioneers heated up in the second half and continued to play solid defense and tied the game at 61-61 with five minutes remaining. UAV did not look back as the Pioneers closed the game on a 12-7 run, shooting 59 percent from the field, including 67 percent from behind the arc, and got to the free throw line 24 times in the second half. Miles Nolen-Webb led UAV with 19 points and 4 assists, and Steve Bush added 14 points on 3-of-6 shooting from deep.
Thursday, December 29
ANTELOPE VALLEY 90, MOUNT MARTY 71: The Pioneers ran over the Lancers on the first day of the UAV New Year's Classic in Lancaster, Calif. Franky Teran's long-range shooting combined with Jacob Bowman's mid-range jumpers to allow UAV to jump out to early lead en route to a comfortable 43-27 lead at the break. The Pioneers got a bit complacent defensively in the second half, and the Lancers made a run to cut the lead to 11 points. MMC shot over 51 percent in the second half, but fortunately for the Pioneers, they had an insurmountable amount of offense and extend the lead to as many as 21 points. Teran led all scorers with 21 points on an efficient 8-of-12 shooting, including 5-for-8 from the 3-point line. Steve Bush added 16 points on 7of-11 from the field and 2of-4 from deep.
THE MASTER'S 78, UC MERCED 72: After holding the lead for the majority of the game, the Bobcats let a lead slip away late and were never able to regain it against the host Mustangs in The Master's New Year's Classic in Santa Clarita, Calif. Aaron Laflin finished with his second consecutive double-double, ending the game with 11 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. Ryan Haywood had a team-high 16 points, while Matt Laflin and Cole Taira also reached the double-digit plateau with 11 and 10, respectively. Leading by four points with just over six minutes left, TMU mounted a run with a pair of threes and a layup, and the Bobcats found themselves facing what would ultimately be an insurmountable deficit. Derek E'denchukwu was able to cut the lead back to just two points with a little over four minutes remaining, but that would be as close as UCM would get for the rest of the game.
WHITTIER 88, LA SIERRA 72: Despite four Golden Eagle players finishing in double figures, the host Poets downed LSU in the first round of the Purple and Gold Poet Classic in Whittier, Calif. Kyle Hamilton poured in 22 points to top LSU, and Isaac Deese contributed 15 points, a team-high five assists, and six rebounds. Curtis Brisbane chipped in 12 points, as did Eduardo Gomez del Casal, who picked up his fifth double-double of the season--and third in a row--by totaling 14 boards.
CAL MARITIME 72, OCCIDENTAL 52: The Keelhaulers pulled away from the Tigers in the second half to earn a win on the first day of the Tom Byron Classic in Santa Barbara, Calif. CSUM, now 8-7 on the year, received a 25-point effort from Daniel Radford, who drained 4-of-6 3-pointers and pulled down seven rebounds. Justin Eisen added 11 points, most coming off his three treys.
Friday, December 30
NOTRE DAME DE NAMUR 88, (RV) PACIFIC UNION 83: The Pioneers reduced a 19-point halftime deficit to just four in the final minutes of the game before falling to the NCAA Division II Argonauts in Belmont, Calif. By the mid-way point of the first half, PUC trailed by double digits, but the Pioneers were able to bring the Argonauts' lead down to four points before giving up a run that extended NDNU's lead to 19 at the break. The Pioneers turned it around in the second half, spearheaded by Anthony Adams-Rule's 24 points and seven rebounds in 20 minutes. The Argonauts maintained the double digit lead well into the second half, but PUC began to slowly chip away and, with 4:13 remaining, took the lead down to single digits. A layup cut the lead to four, but NDNU iced the win with a free throw on its next possession. Adams-Rule led all scorers with 32 points on an efficient 16-for-21 shooting, and Rae Hubbard added 11 points for PUC, now 5-3 overall.
WESTERN NEW MEXICO 67, BENEDICTINE-MESA 59: The Mustangs edged the Redhawks in Silver City, NM. BenU tied the game late in the second half but could not take the lead, allowing WNMU to hold off the Redhawks and drop their overall record to 7-8. After trailing for most of the second part of the second half, the Redhawks pulled even at the 3:46 mark on two free throws from Gus Leon to make it 56-all. The Mustangs responded with a 7-0 run, but BenU shaved it back to four on another Leon bucket and had a chance to cut it to two with under a minute to go. But WNMU corralled the Redhawks' miss and hit their free throws to hand BenU the loss. Robert Kincade led the Redhawks with 17 points and added eight rebounds, while Leon chipped in with 15 and Jorge Cano added 10.
EMBRY-RIDDLE 77, CAL MIRAMAR 59: The Eagles topped the Falcons in San Diego, Calif., to improve to 4-9 on the season.
THOMPSON RIVER 79, ANTELOPE VALLEY 78: The Wolf Pack nipped the Pioneers in the second round of the UAV New Year's Classic in Lancaster, Calif. UAV jumped out to an early lead, but TRU got back into the game by controlling the inside, and eventually took the lead with eight minutes remaining in the first half and built a six-point advantage going into the intermission. The Wolf Pack picked up where they left off, moving out to a 14-point lead just three minutes into the second half, but the Pioneers got on a roll and produced a 23-8 run that tied the game 66-66 with four minutes left in the contest. TRU hit a big three with 41 seconds left to go up five, and UAV was unable to close that gap. The Pioneers, now 6-7 overall, received two 21-point scoring performances. Franky Teran drained 7-of-12 shots from the floor, including 5-of-8 from beyond the arc, and Miles Nolen-Webb matched that total while also dishing out nine assists and grabbing six rebounds.
No. 25 ARIZONA CHRISTIAN 80, UC MERCED 52: The Bobcats fell to the Firestorm on the second day of The Master's New Year's Classic in Santa Clarita, Calif. At the half UCM trailed by 18, shooting 40 percent from the field, but the Firestorm's dominance on the boards and in the paint proved to be too much for the Bobcats as they were outscored 28-6 in the paint and were outrebounded 40-26. Cole Taira was the lone Bobcat in double figures with 13 points on 3-of-4 from long range. With the loss, the Bobcats close out 2016 with a 1-11 record.
REDLANDS 86, LA SIERRA 69: For the second consecutive game, the Golden Eagle had four players finish in double figures but came up short on the scoreboard, this time to the Bulldogs in the second round of the Purple and Gold Poet Classic in Whittier, Calif. Kyle Hamilton totaled 15 points to top LSU, which falls to 0-15 on the season. and Isaac Deese, Fred Brown, and Eduardo Gomez del Casal each added 11 points. Gomez del Casal extended his streak of double-doubles with 12 rebounds, giving him six double-doubles on the season and four in a row.
No. 9 WESTMONT 98, CAL MARITIME 46: The Keelhaulers were no match for the host Warriors, who breezed to a lopsided win in the second round of the Tom Byron Classic in Santa Barbara, Calif. Daniel Radford and Justin Eisen each finished with nine points for CSUM, which evens its season mark at 8-8.
Saturday, December 31
LIFE PACIFIC 72, EMBRY-RIDDLE 54: The Warriors closed out 2016 with the win over the Eagles in San Dimas, Calif. ERAU heads into Cal Pac play with a 4-11 overall record. Nick Johnson was the only Eagle to reach double digits, totaling 11 points.