Sports

UHH Ends Eight-Game Skid With 62 Point Rout

December 30, 2012, 11:30 AM HST
* Updated December 31, 7:54 PM
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Following an eight-game losing streak and a week-long winter break, a meeting with the Champion Baptist Tigers was exactly what the University of Hawai`i at Hilo men’s basketball team to close the 2012 calendar year.

Five players scored in double figures and every player that was eligible played and scored in a 116-54 drubbing of the Tigers in front of 400 fans at the UH Hilo Gymnasium.

UH Hilo (2-8) did trail once in the game, 2-0, in the game’s first minute. The Vulcans would follow that with a 10-0 run over the next 2:19 of the half to take a 10-2 lead. Following a Mo Capaci layup, UHH would embark on another quick run, an 11-1 advantage that gave them a 21-5 lead with 14:31 remaining in the first half.

UH Hilo took a 60-25 lead into the halftime break thanks to four treys and a 63.2 percent field goal shooting effort. That lead didn’t keep the Vulcans from putting on the defensive pressure. Outside of a small lack of focus midway through the second half, the Vulcans constantly hounded Champion Baptist ballhandlers in the backcourt, picking up 11 steals and forcing 25 turnovers in the game. That lead to multiple fast break opportunities, fancy passes, and dunks by Mychael Hearn and Michael Melonas.

“There was a lot of good things we did,” said head coach Jeff Law. “Most of it, obviously, was on the offensive side of the floor…I thought we did a really good job against different faces.”

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Hearn led the Vulcans with 29 points on 13-of-20 shooting. Forward Michael Melonas followed up one of his best career games last week with another solid effort, scoring 26 points on 12-of-21 shooting, grabbing 13 rebounds, and dishing out four assists.

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“Bluntly honest, there’s no excuse for him (Melonas) not to put in an effort like he did tonight,” Law said on ESPN Radio after the game. “The effort the other night against St. Edwards was nice and good, and he should be playing like that more on a night-in, night-out basis, which is really good.”

Kiel Myers added 18 points and 12 rebounds, Derek Owens scored 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting, and CJ Brown drained all three of his three-point attempts to score 13 points. He also contributed 6 rebounds and 5 assists.

“We shared the ball more tonight than we have, it seems like anyway,” said Law. “We had 21 assists. We haven’t had 21 assists in a long time.”

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Champion Baptist’s (3-14) leading scorer was held in check all game by the duo of Melonas and Myers. Brandon Likins, who entered the game averaging 32 points and 12 rebounds per contest, was held to 17 points on 7-of-25 shooting. He shot 1-for-10 from beyond the arc and grabbed seven rebounds.

The Vulcans were able to prevail with only eight players dressed to compete. Reserve Oxone-Ross Mavungu did not dress because of tendinitis and forward Brandon Thomas was not at the gym due to an illness that sent his daughter to the hospital. He was flying back from Washington as the game was being played.

Also absent was reserve forward Robert Looper. Law announced before the game that Looper would not be returning to the team, citing family matters back home in Los Angeles. Daniel Perry, a senior from Honolulu, will be eligible at the beginning of the next semester, which will bring the roster back up to 11 once everyone is at full strength.

UH Hilo returns to action at home on Thursday, January 3 against Notre Dame de Namur in a PacWest conference game. The women’s game starts at 5:00 p.m. with the men to follow at 7:30 p.m. ESPN Radio and ESPNHawaii.com will broadcast the men’s game.

Champion Baptist 25 29 – 54

Hawai`i Hilo 60 56 – 116

Slippery Floor Persists

A continuing frustration for coaches, players, and floor generals has been the slippery floor inside the UH Hilo gymnasium. When it rains outside, the floor gets slippery and creates ice skating-like conditions.

During the game, floor crews mop up the floor with help of an alcohol-based solvent to try to keep the floor from being a hazard to players. Doors are also closed to minimize the moisture that comes in from outside rain. The issue has persisted throughout every home game this season, and Jeff Law admitted that the floor conditions are a big problem. He did say, however, that his players tend to make it a bigger problem.

“It’s in our guys’ heads more than it has ever, ever been. If they see a door open there and a door open there, they start to get a little tweaky. The floor has to be addressed and it is tough. It’s tough to play, it’s tough to concentrate, but, you know, both teams have to play on it.”

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