By OSKAR GARCIA
LAHAINA, Maui — Illinois got a rocky start on its trip to Hawaii. Now, it has a shot at the Maui Invitational title.
“Our guys have earned that right with the way that they played, with their effort,” Illinois coach John Groce said. “Our execution, I think, continues to get better to make us a more complete team.”
Joseph Bertrand had a season-high 14 points as Illinois beat Division II Chaminade 84-61 on Tuesday night to advance to the final of the eight-team tournament.
Illinois will play Butler on Wednesday night for the tournament title. Butler took down the field’s only ranked team earlier Tuesday, beating No. 9 North Carolina 82-71.
Brandon Paul scored 13 points, D.J. Richardson had 11 and Tyler Griffey added 10 as the Illini denied the tournament’s host school a chance at shocking the college hoops world on consecutive nights. Illinois (5-0) shot 49 percent from the field and never trailed.
Groce said his team’s 38 bench points were especially huge for a team playing three games in three days.
“What an asset that is to have as our team continues to develop and get a little bit better every day,” he said.
De’Andre Haskins had 19 points and Bennie Murray had 10 for the Silverswords.
Chaminade (3-2) will play UNC in the third-place game. The tiny Catholic school became a trending topic on Twitter after a rout of Texas on Monday night.
Unlike a night earlier, Chaminade didn’t pose much of a battle for Illinois, which came into the game having beaten USC in the tournament’s first round. That could be because Illinois didn’t view Chaminade as an inferior opponent — Groce had said Monday that Chaminade would be a tough challenge.
“It was kind of a different game for us playing against kind of a smaller team,” Bertrand added.
Chaminade missed 13 of its first 20 shots. Kevin Hu scored eight points after an electric 16-point performance against Texas.
“We just came across a very good team. They know how to play defense, too,” Chaminade coach Eric Bovaird said. “We had a harder time than we ever had getting into the paint and creating.”
Already up eight points nearly 15 minutes into the game, Illinois went on a 10-0 run to take a 37-19 lead with 1:23 remaining in the first half.
The teams traded baskets the first few minutes of the second half, but Illinois pulled away. The Illini took a 20-point lead on a 3-pointer from Paul with 8:13 left, and a 25-point lead in the last minute on a layup from reserve freshman Mike LaTulip.
BUTLER 82, No. 9 NORTH CAROLINA 71
Maybe North Carolina should have just gone to the beach. Butler is the team to beat in Maui.
Rotnei Clarke and Kellen Dunham each scored 17 points Tuesday night to lead the unranked Bulldogs in the second round of the Maui Invitational.
Butler jumped out to a 17-p oint halftime lead and held back several second-half surges from the Tar Heels.
“It was an entertaining game to be a part of,” Butler coach Brad Stevens said. “When you are playing a program like Carolina, you know they are coming. Their run is coming next.”
The runs sure came, but UNC was too far behind to make them worth anything.
“We just dug too big a hole against a very, very good team,” North Carolina coach Roy Williams said.
The Tar Heels (4-1) missed their first three shots and never led.
One day after beating Marquette at the buzzer, Butler (3-1) held North Carolina to 18 points in the first half — by far the worst output in a half for the Tar Heels so far this season.
P.J. Hairston led UNC with 15 points. Marcus Paige and Reggie Bullock each scored 13.
Andrew Smith had 13 points for Butler, while Kyhle Marshall had 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Butler got out to a 10-2 lead in just over four minutes then built it to 14 points with a 9-0 run capped by a layup from Erik Fromm with 9:36 left in the first half. Minutes later, Fromm grinned and nodded after hitting a 3-pointer from the top of the key that put Butler up 16 with less than four minutes to go in the half.
Meanwhile, Paige and James McAdoo combined for just nine points in the opening 20 minutes as UNC made only a combined eight shots.
“In the first half, they really kicked us,” Williams said. “In the second half, we’re trying to make comebacks, but they were making shots.”
Butler took a 27-point lead roughly seven minutes into the second half. Duhman hit back-to-back 3s less than 19 seconds apart thanks to a steal and nifty assist from Clarke.
But the talented Tar Heels did not go quietly.
Hairston scored 10 straight — eight points in just over one minute and screaming after every bucket — to pull Carolina within 17 with 9:39 to go. Chase Stigall responded with back-to-back 3-pointers in the next two minutes.
Carolina pulled within six with less than two minutes left after scoring eight points in just over 40 seconds, including six from Paige.
But Butler hit five free throws in the last 1:01 to nail down the win.
Butler, on a roll in the Aloha State since losing 62-47 at Xavier one week ago, will play either Illinois or Division II Chaminade in the tournament’s title game on Wednesday. UNC will get the loser of that matchup in the third-place game.
Butler — an unranked squad which dropped from all ballots in the last AP Top 25 tally — pulled off a win over Marquette to open the tournament with an improbable, running 3-pointer from Clarke.
Stevens said its second win in Maui taught his team an early-season lesson about getting off to a fast start.
“You know that you have got to play attacking the rest of the game,” he said.
USC 59, TEXAS 53, OT
USC’s trip to Hawaii has been less then picturesque. But the Trojans are better off than Texas after beating the Longhorns in a game in which neither team shot well.
“Both of us were in desperate mode,” USC coach Kevin O’Neill said. “It was a rock fight.”
Dewayne Dedmon hit a layup and a free throw with less than 2 minutes left to put USC up for good.
Sheldon McClellan banked in a putback jumper with 25.9 seconds left to get Texas within two points, but J.T. Terrell made two free throws on the next possession to seal the win.
“At least we competed,” Texas coach Rick Barnes said, clearly still smarting from his team’s 13-point loss to Division II Chaminade on Monday night — an upset that generated enough buzz to make the 1,200-student Catholic school in Honolulu a worldwide trending topic on Twitter.
Eric Wise led USC (3-1) with 13 points. Julien Lewis had 17 for Texas (2-2).
In a game with 12 ties and nine lead changes, neither team led by more than three after halftime until overtime.
Both teams combined to shoot under 36 percent — under 30 percent in the second half. The Trojans and Longhorns shot an identical 18.2 percent from 3-point range — making two 3-pointers each.
USC will play Marquette on Wednesday in the tournament’s fifth-place game. Texas will play Mississippi State in the tournament’s seventh-place game.
The teams were tied at 26 at halftime after trading big swings the first 20 minutes. USC went up by seven in the first 5 minutes, then Texas came back to take a 5-point lead on a layup from Ioannis Papapetrou with 5:47 left in the half.
In the second half, Lewis made a jumper from just inside the free throw line with 1:36 left to give Texas a 2-point advantage, but J.T. Terrell tied it at 47 with 36 seconds left with a transition dunk off a half-court assist from Byron Wesley. Lewis missed a potential game-winner with 4 seconds left and USC couldn’t get another shot off, so the game went to overtime.
“I’m really proud of our guys bouncing back,” O’Neill said. “We got whacked last night.”
MARQUETTE 89, MISSISSIPPI STATE 62
Marquette coach Buzz Williams thinks his team is back on track after a heartbreaking loss to Butler to open the Maui Invitational.
Vander Blue scored 18 points and Davante Gardner had a double-double as Marquette easily beat Mississippi State on Tuesday.
“I thought our response after what we went through yesterday was outstanding,” Williams said. “It will be interesting to see how we handle it on the other side of it tomorrow morning.”
That’s when the Golden Eagles will play for fifth place in the eight-team tournament against the winner of a game between Texas and USC. Marquette, which is unranked but receiving votes in the AP Top 25, wants a strong finish to its Hawaii trip.
Against Mississippi State, Marquette (3-1) never trailed. And the Bulldogs never trailed by less than 10 points after the opening minutes.
Gardner finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds.
Mississippi State didn’t score in the first four minutes as the Golden Eagles built an 8-0 lead. Gavin Ware hit a jumper and Craig Sword had a steal and dunk to make it 8-4, but Marquette responded by scoring 10 straight points in less than two minutes. Marquette led 48-27 at the break.
Williams said he thought his team was efficient in the first half.
“In the first half I thought our energy was outstanding defensively,” Williams said.
Fred Thomas opened the second half with a quick 3-pointer, but Marquette extended its lead to 24 points over the next 10 minutes. The Bulldogs never came within 17 points after that.
Mississippi State (1-3) had 22 turnovers — including 15 in the first half that led to 29 points for Marquette.
Marquette shot 52.1 percent (37 of 71). Trent Lockett had 13 points, Jamil Wilson had 11.
Thomas had 17 points for the Bulldogs. Roquez Johnson scored 16 points but limped off the court with help with just over nine minutes left.
Mississippi State coach Rick Ray said injuries kept his team from being able to make substitutions — for mistakes in the first half and fatigue in the second.
“They haven’t given up, the team worked hard, played hard,” Ray said. “We are just so short of bodies right now when you are playing three games in three days against quality competition.”
The Bulldogs lost two freshmen for the season earlier this year, and Jalen Steele is out at least six weeks after breaking a wrist last week.
The tournament format — each team playing three games over a three-day span — put Monday’s four losers into a consolation bracket.
Marquette lost Monday to Butler on Rotnei Clarke’s buzzer beating 3-pointer to open the tournament. Later the same day, Mississippi State was torched by No. 9 North Carolina, which hit 15 3-pointers.
EA Sports Maui Invitational
Butler 82, North Carolina 71
Illinois 84, Chaminade 61
Marquette 89, Mississippi St. 62
Southern Cal 59, Texas 53, OT