Sports

St. Edward’s Wins Fourth Straight With Late Basket

December 20, 2012, 8:21 AM HST
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The effort was better. The result, however, remained the same.

The University of Hawai`i at Hilo men’s basketball team suffered their eighth straight loss of the season, 77-75 at the hands of the St. Edward’s University Hilltoppers, when James Stukes grabbed an offensive rebound and dropped it back through the hoop with :29 remaining.

UH Hilo (1-8) had two chances to tie or take the lead after the Stukes basket. On the very next possession, the Vulcans decided not to use a timeout and, instead, run the ball up the floor and look for a shot. Kiel Meyers took a contested three pointer at the left wing with :07 remaining that didn’t drop, leading to a foul that sent Jeff Campbell to the free throw line to shoot a 1-and-1.

Campbell missed the front end of the 1-and-1, leaving UHH’s CJ Brown with the rebound and just over five seconds to go the length of the floor to get a shot off. Brown let go a running floater from 16 feet away that bounced softly off of the front of the rim and rolled out to the right of the basket, sealing another defeat for the Vulcans.

While Jeff Law, UHH head coach, pointed out several “boneheaded” mistakes that his team made that, in his estimation, could have cost his team the game, he still took notice of the effort that wasn’t at the gym in Friday’s blowout loss.

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“I am semi-content with our effort,” said Law on ESPN Radio’s “Sports Line Postgame Show.”

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“I’m happy with the effort that the guys gave, but we settled. We didn’t shoot well from three and we keep on shooting, and that hurt us, because I thought we settled for threes a little too much, instead of going inside.”

UHH shot 4-for-20 from beyond the arc, a 20 percent clip. Mychael Hearn, who finished with 16 points and 8 rebounds, hit a pair of treys. The first led to a four-point play after a foul, and the second came with 10:41 to play that gave UHH at 62-61 lead, their first lead since the 8:29 mark of the first half.

Another frustration point for Law was crucial lapses in collecting rebounds. At the end of the first half, St. Edward’s Harley Nussman grabbed an easy offensive rebound off of a missed free throw and put it back in as time expired, giving the Hilltoppers an eight-point advantage going into the locker room.

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In the final three minutes of the game, offensive rebounds hurt the Vulcans again. St. Edward’s collected four offensive rebounds in the final three minutes, leading to four extra shots, a pair of free throw attempts, and three extra points, enough to make the difference in the game.

The loss spoiled an outstanding effort from forward Michael Melonas, who scored 23 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in a losing effort. The 6-foot-6 forward scored nine points in the first nine minutes before getting his second foul, which forced him to miss the rest of the half. He played the entire second half and showed a powerful presence, physically and vocally, throughout the game.

“Melonas played a great game,” Law said. “We had seven fouls on him, we were going to the line, we didn’t utilize that to our benefit…and, the thing is, he’ll tease you, because the next game, he won’t be anywhere around like that. Hopefully, this is something that when he goes home tonight or tomorrow when they go home, that he can feel good about.”

Pouring rain outside of the UH Hilo Gymnasium led to treacherous conditions inside the gym, with moisture entering the gym causing slippery conditions. Over three minutes into the game, both head coaches and officials put the game on hold while floor crews mopped down the floor with a solvent designed to toughen the floor up. After a delay that lasted nearly 15 minutes, the game got back underway and the floor withheld the continuing downpour outside. All gym doors were closed during the game to minimize moisture entering the building.

Joining Melonas and Hearn in double-digit scoring was Myers, who finished with 13 points and eight rebounds on 5-of-12 shooting. UHH shot 46 percent from the field and 13-of-17 from the free throw line.

Zillijan Jones, in only his third game of the season, came off of the bench to score 20 for the Hilltoppers, including five treys and four assists. Stukes added 14 points, Shimeek Johnson contributed 13 points and 8 boards, and Campbell scored 11 second half points, aided by three treys.

Both Division II teams join the rest of their fellow squads in observing the NCAA’s winter moratorium, a rule enacted last year that creates a week-long dead period that halts practice and player contact with coaches. UH Hilo returns to the court on Saturday, December 29 against Champion Baptist.

St. Edward’s 42 35 – 77

UH Hilo 34 41 – 75

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