Though the 12-2 San Francisco Dons have been the toast of the town — and of mid-major basketball — there is in fact other notable college hoops going on in the City that isn’t on the Hilltop.
On Wednesday, the Academy of Art University men’s basketball team scored the biggest victory in program history, knocking off Division II powerhouse Chaminade, 71-69.
The win over the No. 12-ranked Silverswords isn’t the first upset by the Urban Knights, but it is arguably the most significant, given the Silverswords’ pedigree as hosts — and progenitors — of the Maui Invitational.
Chaminade scored a win over Cal in Maui last season, and pushed both San Diego State and Arizona in preseason exhibitions this year. In the Hoops in Hawai’i D2 Power Invitational, the Silverswords knocked off No. 7 UC San Diego, 70-64.
At 10-1 coming in to San Francisco on Wednesday, Chaminade was riding high off of nine straight wins. Then came the humble 2-8 Urban Knights, who had not beaten a Division II ranked team since the 2014-15 season, when they started the year by downing No. 22 Seattle Pacific 70-67 on Nov. 14, 2014.
ART U held the Silverswords to 7-of-30 shooting in the first half, but Chaminade came back to take a 36-34 lead with 17:49 left in the game on a lay-up by Tyler Cartaino. The Urban Knights then went on a 26-9 run, where they went 9-of-13 from the field, including the last of five Cobe Williams 3-pointers with 5:42 to go to put ART U up by 15.
The Silverswords charged back in the final minutes, going 5-for-5 from the field and 11-for-11 at the free throw line, but a would-be game-winning 3-pointer with two seconds left by Andre Arissol — who shot 43.8 percent from 3-point range in two seasons at Otero Junior College — hit the back of the rim as time expired.
The Urban Knights out-rebounded the Silverswords 42-30 on the night, including nine offensive boards. Junior forward Andrija Blatancic paced ART U with 24 points on 9-of-13 shooting, adding a pair of blocks and 11 rebounds in 37 minutes for his second straight double-double.
Senior center Cameron Niven, whose lay-up off a fast break gave the Urban Knights a 10-point lead in the second half, finished with 13 points, two rebounds and a pair of assists, collecting a team-leading three blocks.
ART U, now 3-8, has evened its PacWest record at 3-3. The Urban Knights will look to win a third straight game when they face Hawaii-Hilo at home this Friday, Jan. 4 at 7:30 p.m.
SF State MBB on a roll: Not to be outdone in the City college basketball landscape, San Francisco State has been making some noise, as well. The Gators have won three of their last four games. SF State blew out Pacific Union 89-57 in a non-conference tilt on Dec. 30, and will re-enter CCAA conference play tonight at Cal State Dominguez Hills.
At 8-4, the Gators — who blew out ART U 78-41 in the season opener on Nov. 9 — are off to their best start since 2016-17, when they won 11 straight to start the season. Before that, the last time SF State won eight of its first 12 games was 2009-10.