Vulcans Drop Lead, Recover in OT to Defeat Tiffin

November 27, 2013, 9:04 AM HST
* Updated November 27, 9:08 AM
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The University of Hawai`i at Hilo men’s basketball team watched an 11-point lead slip away in the final seconds of regulation, but recovered in overtime to defeat Tiffin University 93-87.

The game closed out the second day of the Naniloa Volcanoes Resort Thanksgiving Tournament, held at the UH-Hilo Gymnasium.

UH-Hilo (3-2) led 47-36 at the halftime break before a 12-3 run by the visiting Dragons cut the Vulcans’ lead down to two in the first four minutes in the second half. The Vulcans missed their first three shots and turned the ball over twice in that span against an energized Tiffin defense.

“They put a zone on us and we were ineffective, to say the least, against that zone,” said UH-Hilo coach GE Coleman after the game. “We showed that character. We got pushed in the face pretty hard there.”

UH-Hilo responded by going on a 10-2 run of its own over the game’s next two minutes to take a 60-50 lead. Reserve guards Joey Rodriguez and Yevgenjy Dyachenko both drained three pointers to spark the run before senior Brandon Thomas capped it off with a two-handed dunk.


After a pair of missed free throws from UH-Hilo’s Dominique Campbell late in the game, Tiffin had a pair of shot opportunities late in regulation. Korab Imami, a transfer from Oakland University, had a shot near the rim blocked by Campbell, but got his own rebound and put a shot back in from 10 feet away to tie the game at 78.with two seconds remaining.


Imami fouled out of the game in overtime. The sophomore forward finished with four points and seven rebounds.

In overtime, Tiffin got play started with a three pointer from Khaleal McCormick. The Dragons gave the ball away, however, on their next two possessions, and UH-Hilo capitalized with baskets from Derek Owens and Campbell to take an 82-81 lead with 3:20 left in the extra session.

Tiffin (3-1) got a pair of baskets from Joe Graessle, a Sporting News Preseason All-American Honorable Mention selection, to tie the game twice in the middle of overtime. Graessle finished with a game-high 30 points with 4 made treys.


Graessle’s effort was not enough. After his last basket, the Vulcans finished overtime on an 8-2 run to walk away with the victory.

“We’re learning how to win and how to close games.” Coleman said.

Tiffin started the game with Graessle’s hot shooting. The senior scored the first five points of the game and scored his team’s first 10 points before going on occasional spurts throughout the game.

Once Graessle started to come back down to earth, the Vulcans gathered themselves, controlling most of the first half with great spacing in transition and hot outside shooting. UH-Hilo shot 11-for-21 from beyond the arc for the night while shooting 45.6 percent (31-for-68) from the floor.

Lucas Swanson led the Vulcans with 17 points on 5-for-10 field goal shooting. He also hit a pair of treys and grabbed five rebounds. Darnell Williams followed with 13 points, Rodriguez and Brandon Thomas contributed 12 points, and Kevin Dancer dropped 10.

Tiffin shot 52.2 percent (35-for-67) from the field, but gave the ball away 20 times and lost the rebounding battle 41-36 against a smaller Vulcans’ team. Ashton Khan scored 21 points to compliment Graessle’s scoring effort. McCormick followed with 13 points off of the bench.

Tiffin 36 42 9 – 87

Hawai`i Hilo 47 31 15 – 93

Northern New Mexico 94, #18 Fort Lewis 92 (OT)

In the first game of the day, Northern New Mexico survived a 37 point effort from Nick Tomsick to upset Fort Lewis, who moved up earlier in the day to 18th in the National Associaton of Basketball Coaches Division II poll.

JoeBell Austin hit two free throws to send the game into overtime with 18 seconds remaining. The junior guard finished with 19 points and three assists.

Late in the extra period, the Eagles went to the free throw line to extend their lead with six seconds remaining, but sent the wrong shooter to the charity stripe. Fort Lewis coach Bob Hofman argued that the shooter that went to the line was the wrong shooter and went there purposely, hoping to get a technical foul and the basketball out of the play. The officials waved off the first made free throw in order to get the right shooter, Eric Garcia, to the line.

Garcia made his first free throw but missed his second. On the other end, Fort Lewis guard Mike Matthews raced down and made an uncontested layup with less than two seconds remaining and his team down three points. After a foul and a made free throw, the Skyhawks couldn’t get a final shot away with three-tenths of a second on the clock, sealing its first loss of the season.

Matthew Brito led Northern New Mexico with 25 points before fouling out of the game. AJ Peralta added 18 points and 13 rebounds, Rodney Coles scored 15 points while hitting three treys, Christian Barraza scored 14 points, and Eric Garcia added 11 to go along with 10 points.

Northern New Mexico 43 36 15 – 94

Fort Lewis 37 42 13 – 92

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