Text by Zach Cavanagh; Photos by Alan Gibby/Zone57
The Pavilion at JSerra Catholic High School provided an energetic backdrop for high-flying Division 1 men’s college basketball action in the second annual SoCal Challenge on Nov. 21 and 23.
After three of the four opening-day contests were decided by one point, the second and final day saw UNLV put up a near-dominant performance over Minnesota to capture the Surf Division championship, and High Point triumphed over Tennessee State for the Sand Division title.
UNLV opened with a 56-49 win over Southern Illinois, after trailing 30-26 at halftime. Three Runnin’ Rebels players hit double figures with Keshon Gilbert (18 points), Elijah Harkless (16 points) and Luis Rodriguez (14 points) hitting the mark.
Minnesota outlasted Cal Baptist in an overtime thriller, 62-61, to advance to the Surf Division title game. Dawson Garcia hit the winner with 6.8 seconds remaining. Pharrel Payne led with 15 points and 13 rebounds, and Jamison Battle scored 11 points. Garcia finished with 10 points.
It wasn’t nearly as close in the Surf Division championship, as UNLV went on a 19-4 run to end the first half for a 14-point halftime lead over Minnesota, 38-24. The Runnin’ Rebels led by as many as 22 points over the Golden Gophers to eventually finish off the win, 71-62. Four UNLV players hit double figures, as Gilbert led with 17 points, Harkless scored 16, Rodriguez gathered 15 points and Jackie Johnson III scored 13 points.
Southern Illinois beat Cal Baptist, 64-61, in the Surf Division consolation game.
In the Sand Division, High Point held off Central Michigan, 68-67, and Tennessee State went up with 50 seconds left to take down Cal State Northridge, 74-73, in the first daytime session.
For the division title, High Point and Tennessee State played a tight back-and-forth affair, and High Point got the go-ahead basket from Bryant Randleman with just over a minute to go. Randleman led the Panthers with 18 points. High Point then locked down for the win, 77-72.
Central Michigan beat Cal State Northridge, 82-66, in the Sand Division consolation game.
Zach Cavanagh is the sports editor for Picket Fence Media.
Zach is a California Journalism Award winner and has covered sports in
Orange County since 2013. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @ZachCav and follow our sports coverage
on Twitter @SouthOCSports. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Zach Cavanagh is the sports editor for Picket Fence Media. Zach is a California Journalism Award winner and has covered sports in Orange County since 2013. Follow our sports coverage on Twitter @SouthOCSports and Instagram @South_OC_Sports, and follow Zach on Twitter and Instagram @ZachCav. Email at email@example.com.
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