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Vulcan Men Successful in Home Debut Over Western State

November 21, 2013, 8:43 AM HST
* Updated November 21, 11:09 AM
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First impressions are often the most important.

Led by a rookie head coach and seven new players suited up and seeing action, the University of Hawai`i at Hilo men’s basketball team debuted in front of a large student section and a curious crowd with an 88-62 victory over Western State Colorado.

“I think we played hard, for the most part. Obviously, there’s some mistakes,” said first-year coach GE Coleman after the game. “We had 11 turnovers. We still gave up 13 offensive rebounds but we put a good product on the floor where we played with a lot of energy. We got up and down the floor, and hopefully the community and the students enjoyed it.”

Coleman, an assistant at a pair of Division II schools in Washington before landing his first head coaching job in Hilo, expects his team to play from baseline to baseline on both offense and defense. After made baskets, his squad will usually pick up the opponents full court. Offensively, his teams hurry up the floor and create quick scoring opportunities.

A good example of the style Coleman wants to showcase came early in the first half off of a missed shot from Lucas Adams. Junior transfer Jeff Perkins got the rebound and quickly found Joey Rodriguez, who raced up the floor and lobbed a pass to returning senior Brandon Thomas, who dunked it down with two hands to give the Vulcans a 11-2 lead with 16:02 remaining in the first half. The basket was part of an early 10-0 UH-Hilo run.

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Western State Colorado (0-2) trailed by as much as 10 midway through the first half and put a scare in the home team by going on a 5-0 run to cut the Vulcans lead down to four at 19-15 with 9:28 remaining in the half. UH-Hilo responded with another 10-0 scoring spurt covering 1:56 of game time with four different players contributing.

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Another transfer, junior Jamario Clayton of Durham, NC, helped push the lead to 22 points late in the opening half with a pair of three pointers. The transfer from Ocean County College led the Vulcans with 16 points and 3-for-4 shooting from beyond the arc. The 5’10” guard also grabbed six rebounds.

The Mountaineers got a pair of easy baskets in the paint to start the second half, prompting Coleman to use a timeout in the first 54 seconds of the frame. The Vulcans eventually responded, quickly extending its lead as far as 30 points before settling for a 26 point demolition of its visitors from the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.

Just because the lead continued to grow didn’t mean that the game was out of control. Coleman exhausted all of his timeouts in the second half to make a statement to his team. “It’s all about competing. There was times that we didn’t compete and we didn’t defend and rebound the way we’re supposed to. It doesn’t matter the score. We’re trying to build this program, and the identity and character of our program needs to be that we’re going to compete all the time. It doesn’t matter the score or anything else.”

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Guard Darnell Williams added 14 points and four assists for the Vulcans while Perkins, a 6’7″ transfer from the College of Eastern Utah, dropped 12 points with a pair of treys and five rebounds. UH-Hilo shot 47.7 percent (31-for-65) from the field and 74.1 percent (20-for-27) from the charity stripe. The Vulcans outrebounded the Mountaineers 46-36 while dishing out 16 assists.

Mason Biddle and Jordan Adams each scored 13 points for Western State Colorado, who lost Sunday to Hawai`i Pacific University in its season opener.

The Vulcans, who improved to 2-1 on the season, return to the court Monday for the Naniloa Volcanoes Resort Thanksgiving Tournament. UH-Hilo faces Fort Lewis College of Colorado at 7:30 p.m., following the early matchup between Tiffin and Northern New Mexico.

Western State Colorado 24 38 – 62

Hawai`i Hilo 43 45 – 88

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