Brown’s Trey Lifts Vulcans to Tight Win Against BYUH
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by Josh Pacheco
In a season full of frustration and disappointment, the University of Hawaii at Hilo men’s basketball team found hope Saturday night against a familiar rival.
Thanks, in part, to a game winning trey by CJ Brown with :24.7 to play, the Vulcans knocked off Brigham Young University-Hawai`i 77-76 in front of 586 fans at the UH Hilo Gymnasium, the largest crowd of the season.
“The guys really answered the bell,” said head coach Jeff Law. “For those guys to fight through what we’ve been fighting through, that says a lot for our character and I’m very happy, very proud for them.”
UH Hilo trailed by 10 points with over six minutes to play before making its move. A 6-0 run cut the BYUH lead to 70-66 with 4:13 remaining. After a pair of Okesene Ale free throws, Brown cut the Seasiders’ lead in half with a trey, making the score 72-69 with 3:13 remaining.
The senior guard tied the game at 74 with 1:09 left by hitting a jump shot. After two more free throws from BYUH’s Pablo Coro, the stage was set for the Brown’s heroics.
“CJ’s been working on his shot and they (BYUH) gave him room,” said Law of the winning play. “He answered the call…CJ hitting that was huge.”
UH Hilo (5-13, 3-7 PacWest) opened the game with the same starting lineup that helped them beat Holy Names on the road Monday night. Brown and guard Derek Owens were joined by reserves Oxone-Ross Mavungu, Brandon Thomas, and Lucas Swanson for the second consecutive game. Early foul trouble to Thomas forced Law out of that lineup within the game’s first four minutes.
BYU-Hawai`i (9-8, 6-3 PacWest) led throughout the game’s first five minutes before UHH’s seniors got going. After Mavungu hit one of two free throws, Brown hit a trey to cut the visitors’ lead to one at 9-8 with 14:20 remaining in the game. Michael Melonas and Kiel Myers followed with a pair of field goals to cap an 8-0 run that gave the Vulcans an early 12-9 lead.
UH Hilo’s lead would climb as high as nine points before the Seasiders let Taylor Maughan loose from beyond the arc. The 6-foot-2 freshman guard lit up the nets by hitting four treys in the first half, including three in a row. His last one cut the Vulcans’ lead to one with 5:25 remaining at 32-31. BYU-Hawai`i would take the lead back on a BJ Ford jumper and take a 39-38 lead into the locker room.
Both teams traded threes to start the second half, and each squad held a lead within the period’s first three minutes. The Seasiders controlled the game throughout much of the second half, using its size to gain a rebounding advantage and accumulate points in the paint.
To get back in the game, UH Hilo had to shoot well from long range. The Vulcans did just that, shooting 11-for-19 from distance, a 57 percent clip, anchored by Brown’s three treys and Myers’ 4-for-4 effort.
Michael Melonas came off of the bench to score 12 points and six rebounds to lead UH Hilo’s frontcourt. Swanson scored nine points on 3-of-10 shooting.
Maughan, despite not seeing the court in the second half, led BYU-Hawai`i with 14 points, followed by Bracken Funk’s 12 points and nine rebounds. The Seasiders shot 47 percent from the field, but made just 18 of their 29 free throw attempts.
While UHH still is on the outside of the PacWest tournament picture, the win gets them closer to the sixth-seeded Notre Dame de Namur University. NDNU’s loss in overtime to Dominican, coupled with the Vulcans’ victory, puts UH Hilo within a game and a half of the 4-5 Argonauts for the final spot in the tournament.
UH Hilo returns to the road next Saturday to visit Hawai`i Pacific University at the Neal Blaisdell Center. Tip-off is scheduled for 5:00 p.m.
BYU-Hawai`i 39 37 – 76
Hawai`i Hilo 38 39 – 77