Penguins host touted teams from Washington in Dominican Classic men's basketball holiday event

Seattle Pacific University, the top ranked team in the NCAA Division II West Region men’s basketball poll in November, was the featured guest for the four-team Dominican Classic December 17-18, at the Conlan Center. The Falcons lived up to their billing.

With Preseason All-American point guard Chris Banchero scoring 42 points against the host Penguins in the final game of the holiday event, Seattle Pacific overcame a six-point Dominican lead in the final six minutes en route to an 81-68 victory. Bancheco connected on 11 of 17 field goals and made 19 of 21 foul shots as the Falcons (6-2) kept the Penguins (0-7) winless on the season. Senior Adam Chavis had a season-high 22 points for Dominican.

Another Washington state team, St. Martin's University of Lacey, also won both of its contests in the Dominican Classic. The Saints ran their record to 6-2 by beating Notre Dame de Namur 82-66 prior to the Seattle Pacific-Dominican game.

A crowd of more than 200 attended the final two games of the tournament.  Dominican opened its doors to the community and extended an invitation for all students, from high school to kindergarten, to attend the tournament games free of charge. They also attended for free  the Penguins’  women’s basketball  afternoon game on Dec. 18, a 72-44 loss to undefeated Cal State Monterey Bay despite a nine-point effort by Dominican freshman guard Kayla Valentine.

In the Dominican Classic, Seattle Pacific, ranked No. 7 nationally among NCAA Division II team in a preseason poll by The Sporting News, opened the four-team tournament on Dec. 17 by defeating Notre Dame de Namur 82-76. In addition to Banchero, who began this season by scoring 30 points or more points in three consecutive games, two in road wins against NCAA Division I opponents  Eastern Washington and Nevada-Reno, the Falcons' roster included 6-foot-11 Andy Poling, a transfer from Gonzaga, and 6-10 Modou Niang, a transfer from Utah State who was born in Tokyo and grew up in the Senegal. 

Dominican’s first game in its holiday tournament was an 88-62 loss to St. Martin's. The Saints are coming off back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 1992. They opened this season with an exhibition game loss at the University of Washington then won six of their first eight games.

The games against St. Martin’s and Seattle Pacific have particular interest for Dominican’s players from the state of Washington. Killian Larson, a 6-10 sophomore, hails from Puyallup, WA. and fellow 6-10 sophomore teammate Tyler Sokol  is from Longview, WA. Sharpshooting freshman recruit Daniel Cheledinas (Seattle’s King High School) and redshirt sophomore guard Jeff Rerucha (Bellevue High School) also are from Washington state. Sophomore Austin Bryan, who led the PacWest in scoring as a freshman before suffering a season-ending knee injury, is from Wenatchee, WA. Bryan has decided to take a medical redshirt this season.

Following the Dominican Classic, the Penguins play NCAA Division I foes Hampton University, Colorado State and University of San Francisco in the USF tournament Dec. 28, 30 and Jan. 1 before beginning PacWest play on Jan. 8 at the University of Hawaii-Hilo.