Sports

UHH Men’s Hoops Run Out of Gas Against #14 CBU

January 31, 2014, 7:21 AM HST
* Updated January 31, 7:24 AM
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GE Coleman’s University of Hawai`i at Hilo men’s basketball team has always been able to provide a challenge to tougher opponents. The problem, however, has been keeping enough energy in the tank to complete the job.

The Vulcans took a three point halftime lead against fourteenth-ranked Cal Baptist into the locker room, but lost it minutes into the second half and never recovered, falling 90-77.

The loss extended the Vulcans’ losing streak to 13 games. UH-Hilo last secured a victory against Tiffin University on Nov. 26.

Coleman pointed to his team’s mental, not physical, fatigue, as a strong factor in the second half. “In the second half, when you’ve been beat down a little bit, you have a tendency to, you know, hang your head a little bit. I thought we had a five minute spurt. I thought we played well for about 35 minutes.”

The Vulcans entered the second half with a 50-47 advantage and extended it by two more points early with a layup by Darnell Williams. Cal Baptist guard Chris Brown helped to turn the momentum in the game. After freshman Ryan Berg cut the deficit to two with a trey, Brown tied the game with a pair of made free throws. He then got to the rim on the next possession and scored on a layup to give the Lancers their first lead, 54-52 with nearly three minutes elapsed in the second half.

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After Derek Owens scored on the other end, Brown came back with an easy basket, starting a 10-0 run over the next 4:12 to balloon the Lancers’ lead to 64-54.

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During the scoring stretch, emotions got the best of Coleman, who was heated after a pair of calls against his team. Coleman received a technical foul after going five feet onto the court to protest a call on Yevgeniy Dyachenko, which drew cheers from the student section.

Berg, Cal Baptist’s leading scorer as a freshman, ratcheted up his production during the run. He scored the last four points of CBU’s 10-0 run and continued his scoring stretch by dropping the next five points to keep the Vulcans away.

Berg finished with a game high 23 points while nailing four treys.

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UH-Hilo (3-15 overall, 0-12 PacWest) seemed to have one more run left in its tank. The Vulcans put together an 8-0 run to cut the Lancers’ lead to four, 69-65, with under eight minutes to play. Dyachenko nailed his third three pointer of the night to close the run, but the book on his night was closed seconds later when he was called for his fifth and final foul.

Dyachenko, a sharp-shooting junior from West Sacramento, CA, scored 11 points and grabbed five rebounds in 17 minutes off of the bench.

UH-Hilo cut the deficit to three points with 6:52 remaining, but could not complete the comeback, sealing another loss.

Another sign of fatigue came from the free throw line, where UH-Hilo shot 6-for-15 in the second. The Vulcans were decidedly better, 18-for-20, in the game’s first 20 minutes.

The disappointing finish erased a 50 point first half for the Vulcans, who never trailed while shooting 54.2 percent (13-24) from the floor. Guards Joey Rodriguez, Lucas Swanson, and Derek Owens each scored in double-digits in the opening half, combining for five treys while giving the ball away just twice.

Cal Baptist (17-1, 11-1) stayed in the game thanks to versatile post player Eric Hunt, who shot 5-for-5 from the floor and 4-for-4 from long distance to lead his team with 14 first half points. He finished with 18.

“We can’t allow a non-factor like Eric Hunt to go for 18 points,” said Coleman in his postgame radio interview.

Cal Baptist shot 53.1 percent (26-for-49) for the game. Aiding Berg and Hunt in the scoring column were Chris Brown, who scored 16 points, and Michael Smith, who contributed 11.

Former University of Hawai`i basketball player Garrett Jefferson made his return to the islands as a member of the Lancers. Jefferson played in Manoa for two years under coach Gib Arnold. He scored four points and grabbed three rebounds in 12 minutes.

Rodriguez scored 20 points to lead the Vulcans, although just four of those points came in the second half. Swanson and Owens each added 14 points.

UH-Hilo returns to its campus gymnasium to a conference game against Chaminade on Fri., Feb. 7. The Silverswords defeated the Vulcans 78-68 on Dec. 2.

Cal Baptist 47 43 – 90

UH-Hilo 50 27 – 77

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