Free Throws, Turnovers Doom Vulcan Women

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“It doesn’t matter whether you miss them in the first minute or the last minute, first possession or last possession.”

University of Hawai`i at Hilo women’s basketball head coach David Kaneshiro cited that familiar phrase on Saturday night following his team’s 57-55 loss to Dominican University when talking about his team’s woeful night from the free throw line.

His Vulcans started the game shooting 1-of-9 from the charity stripe and finished the game hitting only nine of their 20 free throw attempts, a 45 percent clip. That, along with 20 turnovers, contributed to the Vulcans’ third loss in PacWest Conference play.

“A lot of those were two shot fouls where, if you miss the first one, you should be able to shake it off and come back,” said Kaneshiro.

The Vulcans went 5-for-13 from the foul line in the first half, a prime difference in the team’s 31-23 halftime deficit to the Penguins, despite shooting 9-for-21 from the field in the opening 20 minutes.


Another key to the first half deficit was a 11-0 Dominican run that spanned 5:02 of the first half. The run started when Penguins center Sarah Nelson got an inside basket to give her team a 14-10 lead with 10:55 left in the first half. The Vulcans would miss their next five shots and three free throws while turning the ball over four times in that span. Meanwhile, Dominican’s Noelle Roldan closed that run with seven consecutive points, including a three pointer, to give Dominican 1 21-10 lead with 5:53 remaining in the half.

UH Hilo (4-6, 1-3 PacWest) made a game of it again in the second half. Trailing 47-38 with 9:02 remaining in the game, the Vulcans went on a 7-0 run spanning the next 2:58 to get within two points. Later, Kirsten Shimizu drilled a three to give the Vulcans their first lead of the half, a 50-49 advantage with 4:31 remaining.

After the lead exchanged hands a few times, Penguins point guard Stephanie Carnes took her first three-point attempt and buried it from the left wing, giving Dominican a 54-52 lead with 2:45 remaining. She nailed another one with :21 remaining to open the lead up even more at 57-53.

Dominican (3-8, 2-1 PWC) gave the Vulcans an opportunity to win the game, however. Jazlyn Afusia got UHH within two at 57-55 with :17 remaining and Kaneshiro used a timeout. After the timeout, the Penguins failed to inbound the ball before a five-second violation was called, allowing the Vulcans to inbound the ball underneath their basket.


Kamie Imai drove to the basket with :10 remaining, but her runner was blocked by Nelson. Dominican’s Julia Brew kept the ball inbounds, but right to UHH’s Kirsten Shimizu, who found Afusia near the right wing. As time expired, Afusia attempted a three-pointer to win the game, but the try rimmed out, and the Penguins were able to hold on.

“I think Dominican did a really good job,” said Kaneshiro after the game. “They played really hard and scrambled the game, which is what they’ve done to a lot of teams this year.”

Nelson paced Dominican with 12 points and six rebounds while struggling through foul issues. Roldan added 11 points off of the bench on 4-of-9 shooting. The Penguins nailed eight three-pointers on 20 attempts, a 40 percent average.

Kirsty Imai scored 12 points and, down the stretch, was the one Vulcan who seemed to take control of the UHH offense, not only looking for her own shot, but allowing others to get involved, as indicated by her five assists.


“Kirsty deserves a lot of credit,” Kaneshiro explained. “She’s been shooting the ball well. Since our Grand Canyon / Dixie (State) trip, she’s shot it as well as she has shot it, I think, in her career. We need her to keep doing that, obviously.”

The Vulcans return to the court on Monday when they host Holy Names University in a pivotal PacWest game. Tip is scheduled for 5:00 p.m. at the UH Hilo Gymnasium.

Dominican 31 26 – 57

Hawai`i Hilo 23 32 – 55

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