UHH Men’s Hoops Finishes Strong in Win over HPU
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by Josh Pacheco
With their backs against the wall, the University of Hawai`i at Hilo men’s basketball team needed a strong performance to keep hopes of continuing their season alive.
Behind 17 bench points from Michael Melonas and a near double-double from CJ Brown, the Vulcans knocked down Hawai`i Pacific University 78-62 Monday afternoon in front of a small crowd on the UHH campus.
Both teams traded shots throughout much of the first half before the Vulcans took control late in the first half. Spurred by four Sea Warrior turnovers, UHH went on a 7-0 run for a three minute, 17 second span in the back end of the opening half to take a 25-18 lead with less than five and a half minutes left.
HPU (9-13, 6-9 PacWest) took the lead back with 31 seconds remaining when reserve Michael Piece drained one of his four three pointers to give the Sea Warriors a 34-32 advantage.
On the last possession of the half, however, UHH moves the ball around the perimeter and found Kiel Myers for a left wing three as the buzzer sounded to put the Vulcans up by one at halftime. Myers was inserted into the starting lineup and contributed seven points and nine rebounds in 29 minutes.
“I thought Kiel Myers’ play in the first half, he didn’t have a point until he hit that three at the buzzer at half, and he was focused and he played really well,” said UH Hilo head coach Jeff Law.
Myers’ three started a run that carried into the second half. UHH went on a 7-0 run to start the final period to open up a 42-34 lead. The Sea Warriors did not have a field goal in the half’s first 6:25 before another Pierce trey, but by that time, HPU found themselves behind by the score of 49-38.
The game clinching run came with 7:36 left to play, when Hawai`i Hilo opened up a 13-0 run over the next 3:48 to take a 72-50 lead with under four minutes to play. Five different players contributed at least one point in the game sealing run.
Melonas was a perfect 7-for-7 from the field, with his only blemishes coming from the free throw line (3-for-4) and in the turnover column (four). Brown, the team’s leading scorer, added 14 points, eight assists, and five rebounds. Derek Owens added 11 points and seven rebounds while Lucas Swanson scored 10 points and hit a pair of shots from beyond the arc.
“It was one of the better ball moving, spacing nights for us.” said UH Hilo head coach Jeff Law. “I hope we can learn from that.”
Pierce paced HPU with 14 points off the bench, while Jelany White and Max Livingston each added 11 points. The Sea Warriors shot 10-for-24 from beyond the arc, but turned the ball over 26 times on the occasionally slippery UHH gymnasium floor.
UH Hilo (6-17, 4-11 PWC) still has an outside shot at making the PacWest Tournament next month. The Vulcans sit two games back of sixth place, currently held by HPU, but also have to get past Notre Dame de Namur and Academy of Art to reach the postseason. The Vulcans host Azusa Pacific on Saturday with tip at 7:30 p.m. The game can be heard on ESPN Radio and ESPNHawaii.com.
Hawai`i Pacific 34 28 – 62
Hawai`i Hilo 35 43 – 78