Vulcans Lose Big Lead But Recover in OT
If you believed that a 25-point second half lead was considered comfortable in basketball, the University of Hawai`i at Hilo men’s hoops team proved you wrong.
Leading 55-30 with 15:29 in the second half, the Vulcans seemed to have their contest with Holy Names University in hand. Unfortunately, they played like it, too, and the Hawks furiously rallied back to tie the game with :35 remaining in the game. Ultimately, the game would reach overtime, and the Vulcans would settle down to defeat the Hawks by the score of 91-86 at the UHH Gymnasium.
On the “SportsLine Postgame Show” on ESPN Radio and ESPNHawaii.com, head coach Jeff Law described the survival victory as “smoother to swallow, but it’s still gagging me.” At one point during a timeout, Law asked his players to “play with pride, or I’ll take your jersey.”
“We showed a lot of immaturity,” said a relieved Law. “Against Chaminade, they took 45 threes. We knew they were going to take a lot of threes, and they took 37 tonight. We knew they had no real inside presence to speak of, and we still let them get some shots off, and I was really upset about that.”
Holy Names (3-9, 0-5 PacWest) shot 16-of-37 from beyond the arc for the game, making 10 of their 20 attempts in the second half and knocking three more down in the extra five minutes. Many of those opportunities came off of offensive rebounds or turnovers.
The Vulcans opened up hot to start the game. Trailing 3-2 just over a minute into the game, UH Hilo opened up a 14-0 run over the next 5:40 to take a 16-3 lead in the seven minutes of the half. Kiel Myers led the charge with nine points in that span, including a three-point shot, to lead the charge. Both teams would trade baskets with UH Hilo adding a few extra scores in to take a 43-26 halftime lead.
The lead slowly grew to 25 before the Hawks flew back into the contest with a stunning barrage of treys. After the UHH lead his 25, Nick Simi nailed a pair of threes to help cut the lead down to 59-38 with 13:42 remaining in the game. HNU’s leading three-point shooter, Tyler Fry, followed up with one of his own to cut the lead down to 18 points on the next posession. After Michael Melonas got a dunk, Blake Watkins nailed another three to force Law to use a timeout at 61-44 with 12:25 remaining.
UH Hilo (3-10, 1-4 PWC) would hit some shots to try to push the lead back up, but the Hawks would continue to answer, leading to a game-changing run with 9:13 remaining. Holy Names stormed back with a 13-0 run spanning nearly five minutes to get within four of the lead at 67-63 with 4:45 remaining.
The Vulcans got the lead back up to nine again, but bad defense, turnovers, and poor rebounding played a key in the final minutes. Watkins hit a three to cut the deficit to six at 72-66. Three possessions later, Fry struck again from beyond the arc to chop the lead down to 73-71 with 1:02 left. Holy Names chose to foul intentionally after that to force UHH to hit free throws, bringing mixed results for the home team. Mychael Hearn hit a pair of them with 1:03 left, which was matched by a Julian Clark inside shot. Hearn would then make one of two free throws on the next trip, allowing Fry to head down the floor and hit a game-tying trey to tie the game at 76. UHH would not be able to get a shot up before the shot clock expired, and Fry missed a three-quarter court three to send the game to overtime.
That’s when the Vulcans settled down and played team basketball. They took the lead for good with 3:11 to play in the extra period when Paul Batausa drained a three from the right wing to give the Vulcans an 81-78 lead. The advantage grew to as much as eight before settling at 91-86 as the buzzer sounded.
Myers scored 24 points and five rebounds to lead four players in double figures for the Vulcans. CJ Brown added 21 points, eight assists, five rebounds, and five steals in 39 minutes. Hearn added 14 points and seven rebounds with four assists, and Brandon Thomas contributed 10 points and six rebounds off of the bench.
Holy Names was led by Fry’s 24 points and 11 rebounds. He hit five treys on the evening and shot 9-of-17 from the field. Richard Craig added 20 points and five made threes. Joshua Crum and Blake Watkins added 12 points off of the bench.
The Vulcans hit a crucial four-game road trip beginning next Monday with a visit to conference newcomer Fresno Pacific University. Tip in Fresno is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time.
Holy Names 26 50 10 – 86
Hawai`i Hilo 43 33 15 – 91