Colleges: Postseason looms for Lions, Anteaters

The Vanguard University women's basketball team won't even wait until March to begin its postseason, while madness, one might suggest, could await anyone attempting to summarize the standings, and conference tournament seeding, for the UC Irvine men's and women's squads in the Big West.

Coach Russ Davis' Lions enter their Golden State Athletic Conference Tournament quarterfinal on Wednesday, at home against Point Loma Nazarene, as the No. 3 seed. Even a first-round loss, however, would likely not be enough to deny Vanguard an 11th straight appearance in the NAIA Tournament.

The Lions (22-5) are ranked No. 11 in the NAIA after tying defending NAIA national champion Azusa Pacific (22-6) for second place in the GSAC (both at 15-3), behind regular-season champion and No. 5-ranked Westmont (26-3, 16-2 in conference).

If victorious Wednesday, Vanguard, the No. 3 seed in the GSAC Tournament, would meet either APU or Fresno Pacific in Friday's semifinals. The best remaining seed would host the semifinal.

The GSAC title game is scheduled for Monday. All tournament games begin at 7:30 p.m.

Things are significantly less defined for the UCI men and women.

The men's squad (11-17, 6-8) enters the final week of the regular season in a three-way tie for fourth in the Big West, along with Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Pacific.

Coach Russell Turner's Anteaters play at regular-season champion Long Beach State on Wednesday at 7 p.m., then finish at seventh-place UC Riverside on Saturday at 5 p.m. UCI can do no better than fourth and no worse than seventh, with many scenarios affecting its possible conference tournament seeding.

That seeding will determine which school the 'Eaters will play in the Big West Tournament quarterfinals on March 8 at the Honda Center.

Cal Poly is at home against UC Davis (Thursday) and Pacific (Saturday), while Pacific is at UC Santa Barbara on Thursday.

Should a tie-breaker be needed, UCI lost twice against Cal Poly and split its two games against UOP.

The UCI women (12-16, 8-7) enter the final week in fifth place. Coach Molly Goodenbour's team can finish as high as third and as low as seventh. A top-four finish would mean playing a conference tournament quarterfinal at home on March 6, before the semifinal round, on March 8, moves to the Honda Center.

UCI has just one conference contest left in the regular season, a road date against UC Riverside on Thursday at 7 p.m.

UC Davis (8-6 in conference), Pacific (7-6), UCSB (7-7) and Long Beach State (6-8) are also in the jumble that exists beneath conference-leading Cal Poly (11-3) and Cal State Northridge (10-5).

The Vanguard men (15-14) finished seventh in the GSAC at 7-11 to earn the No. 7 seed in the conference tournament that begins Thursday at 7:30 p.m. Coach Rhett Soliday's Lions visit San Diego to meet Point Loma Nazarene (19-8).

Thursday's winner will face either Biola or The Master's, the Nos. 3 and 6 seeds, respectively, in Saturday's semifinals. The men's title game is schedule Tuesday on the floor of the highest-remaining seed.

The baseball season has started impressively for Orange Coast and Vanguard. OCC opened 13-0-1, before suffering its first loss, a 4-1 verdict against Canyons on Saturday at home.

Coach John Altobelli's Pirates open Orange Empire Conference play on Thursday at home against Cypress at 2 p.m.

With 32 hits in 59 at-bats, freshman center fielder Boog Powell is hitting .542, which ranks No. 2 in the state. He also has a team-leading 22 runs and seven stolen bases and he has eight runs batted in.

OCC sophomore outfielder Chris Carlson, who began his collegiate career at UCI, leads the state with 19 RBIs. Carlson is batting .396 and leads the Pirates with a .623 slugging percentage.

OCC is batting .288 as a team, but its 96 runs rank third in the state, behind OEC rivals Santa Ana (102) and Cypress (101).

OCC boasts a 1.60 team earned-run average, led by freshman starter Brandon Brennan, who is 4-0 with an ERA of 0.32. Sophomore Keegan Yuhl is also 4-0 with a 1.14 ERA. The four wins are tied for tops in the state with several others.

Vanguard (8-2) has won four straight and seven of its last eight under Coach Ralph Grajeda. The Lions open their Golden State Athletic Conference season against defending NAIA national champion Concordia on Thursday at 2 p.m. at Vanguard.

VU is led by starting pitchers Scott Simmons (3-0 with an 0.50 ERA in 18 innings), a junior, and senior J.R. Bromberg (1-1 with a 1.89 ERA in 18 innings). Opponents are hitting .136 and .158 off those two, respectively.

Offensively, the Lions are lead by senior Brandon Young (.414 with nine runs), Hank Yates (.381 with six RBIs and four steals) and Michael Costello (.400 with eight RBIs).

Vanguard announced last week that it would discontinue its men's and women's swimming and water polo programs beginning next fall.

Athletic Director Bob Wilson cited logistics for the decision. Vanguard, which does not have a pool, began competing in aquatics during the 2009-10 school year.

Twitter: @BarryFaulkner5

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