UH Hilo Offense Slowed in Home Opener
In a game of adjustments, the Maryville University Saints made the right ones Monday night to stay unbeaten on their season.
Behind hot shooting early in the game from beyond the arc and a relentless zone defense, the Saints defeated the University of Hawai`i at Hilo 78-70 in the second game of the Naniloa Volcanoes Resort Thanksgiving Classic.
Maryville’s zone defense was a problem for UH Hilo all game, especially when they extended their zone out to a 1-1-3 set, causing all sorts of headaches for the Vulcans’ guards.
“They ran it real well,” said UHH head coach Jeff Law. “We tend to dribble to much. There were a couple of times in the first half we had to take 25-footers with the time running out on the shot clock. We didn’t get it.”
The zone defense, which switched between the 1-1-3 and a matchup zone, shut down UH Hilo’s offense after a decent start. The Vulcans opened up with a 4-0 lead after Mychael Hearn was fouled on a made three-point basket. He made the free throw to give UHH the lead just 47 seconds into the game.
Moments later, the Saints lit the house on fire with a barrage of treys. They hit six of them in a row over a four minute stretch to push out a 23-15 lead with 14:09 remaining in the first half. Armon Provo and Asa Toney put in two each to lead the charge.
Those shots would not go down all game, however, as Maryville finished the game shooting 9-for-23 from beyond the arc. Once again, they made timely offensive adjustments and burned UHH with a number of solid screens and back door cuts.
“We were very, very slow and did not react well to it at all,” Law said. “There must have been about six back doors that we gave up and a bunch of flare picks. They shot the ball well. They were quicker and they exploited some of our slowness.”
Despite those glaring issues, the Vulcans remained in the game throughout thanks to a solid performance off of the bench from Kiel Meyers. The senior made his regular season debut after being suspended for the team’s first two regular season games in Oregon. Meyers led all UHH scorers with 17 points, including 6-of-7 shooting from the free throw line.
“He showed a lot of hunger and desire to be out on the floor and to attack,” said Law.
After giving up a 6-0 run to start the second half, the Vulcans stayed in the contest. Down by eight, CJ Brown and Lucas Swanson knocked down five points in a row to cut the deficit to three at 46-43. After a Maryville jumper, Swanson hit his second consecutive trey to get UHH within two at 48-46 with 14:54 remaining in the game.
Maryville (3-0) led by as much as ten points in the second half before the Vulcans went on another long run, outscoring the Saints 16-5 over the next 5:38 to take their first lead of the second half at 64-63 with 5:49 remaining. Meyers scored eight points in a row to get UHH within one, and Brandon Thomas hit a bucket in the lane to give UH Hilo the lead.
On the next posession, however, Maryville hit their only three in the second half as center Melvin Turner drained the outside shot to help the Saints retake a 66-64 lead.
With under a minute left, UH Hilo still had a chance to tie the game with a two pointer, but CJ Brown’s turnover led to a made basket from Gerald Shaw to extend the Maryville lead to 74-70 with :41 remaining. On the next posession, Meyers missed a straight-away three point shot, and the visitors made their free throws to put the game away.
Shaw led all scorers with 18 points, draining 6-of-12 shots and grabbing six rebounds. Asa Toney followed with 17 points and four assists, and Armon Provo added 14 points and 5-of-9 shooting from the field.
UH Hilo (1-2) got 14 points from Brown along with five assists. Hearn and Paul Batausa added nine points each.
Both teams continue play at the Naniloa Volcanoes Resort Thanksgiving Classic Tuesday at the UH Hilo Gymnasium. Maryville faces Montana State University – Billings at 5:00 p.m., followed by the Vulcans facing Western New Mexico at 7:30 p.m. The late game can be heard on ESPN Radio and ESPNHawaii.com.
Maryville 40 38 – 78
Hawai`i Hilo 38 32 – 70
Montana State University – Billings 67, Western New Mexico 61
Despite a cold shooting first half, the Yellowjackets recovered by forcing 25 turnovers to improve to 2-1 on the season. MSU – Billings shot 10-for-35 from the field in the first half, but improved by shooting 13-of-24 in the final 20 minutes while their opponents shot 9-of-25 in the final half.
Jarrell Crayton led Billings with 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting, while David Arnold added 10 points. Western New Mexico was led by 13 point efforts from Juan Suarez and Brelan Berry. Andy Sohlich added 12 points on four three-pointers.
Montana State University – Billings 28 39 – 67
Western New Mexico 34 27 – 61