The Houston Baptist University Huskies men’s basketball returned to Houston on Wednesday following a successful start to their 2012-13 season with wins in two of the three games at the Outrigger Resorts Rainbow Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii.
The Huskies won their first two contests — a 72-68 season-opening victory over Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Friday night followed by a 70-55 win against Maryland-Eastern Shore on Sunday afternoon — to set up a championship matchup with the host University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors on Monday night.
That game was featured on ESPN as part of the network’s Tipoff Marathon, a block of sixteen consecutive live games.
And though HBU dropped the decision in the finale, 73-60, they garnered some national attention for their program and spotlighted a handful of individual performances by their players.
Senior center Art Bernardi scored 22 points in the finale to lead all scorers and earn a spot on the all-tournament team. Bernardi averaged 17.7 and seven rebounds in the three games.
He was joined on the all-tournament team by Marcus Davis, who averaged 12.3 points and went 7-for-7 from the free throw line.
Despite the disappointment of the loss in the finale, head coach Ron Cottrell saw the positives from his team’s performance in the tournament.
“This isn’t a total loss here,” said the head coach when asked what he said to his team following the loss to Hawaii. “We went 2-1 in a very good tournament.”
“We played two teams on a neutral court and played very, very well,” Cottrell added, “and we played the host team on their home court in front of a very good crowd on national TV and just didn’t play as well as we needed to to win the ball game.”
Cottrell also focused on the fact that his team still has room for improvement as the season progresses.
“All of our guys in the [locker] room back there know we can play better,” he said. “We’ve just got to take this as a learning experience and move forward from here.”
The team returned to Houston on an overnight flight from Honolulu and were headed to classes on Wednesday morning before beginning their preparations for a pair of upcoming home games, the first regular-seaon home games of the year.
Dallas Christian comes to Sharp Gym on Saturday for the home opener. The Huskies are 4-0 all-time against the Crusaders, who are members of the National Christian Collegiate Athletic Association (NCCAA).
The Pepperdine Waves then come to town on Tuesday, November 20, for a 7:05 p.m. tipoff in the two schools’ first-ever meeting. Pepperdine is off to an 0-2 start and will play Washington State before their trip to Houston.