Sports

HPU Squashes Rally to Beat Vulcan Women

December 14, 2014, 4:04 PM HST
* Updated December 14, 4:09 PM
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Morganne Comstock, last year’s rebounding champion and an all-league selection in the PacWest Conference, was silenced due to foul trouble for much of Saturday’s game against the University of Hawai’i at Hilo.

With a 12-point lead evaporated and the Vulcans’ on a game-changing 8-0 run, however, Comstock delivered an uncharacteristic momentum-busting shot to put the Sharks back in the lead for good. HPU held off UH-Hilo 71-63 to win its sixth in a row, improving to 7-1 on the season and 3-0 in conference play.

UH-Hilo (2-5 overall, 1-2 PacWest) capitalized on serious follow trouble to the Sharks to get back into the game late Saturday. The Vulcans 8-0 run spanned just over two minutes long and leveled the game at 50-50 with nine minutes to play when Hayley Reynolds sank a pair of free throws.

Reynolds, a senior post player, scored a career-high 24 points, hitting 9-of-10 shots and going a perfect 6-for-6 from the free throw line.

Comstock, however, responded with her first trey of the season, launched from the top of the arc, to put the Sharks ahead 53-50 with 8:34 remaining. She hit a jumper soon after to continue what would amount to a 6-0 scoring run to end the Vulcans’ threat and give HPU enough breathing room to leave with the victory.

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“We’re not here to come close and we’re not into moral victories, but I told (the team) that I was very proud of the effort,” said UH-Hilo coach David Kaneshiro. “Especially coming into halftime, I thought we played really hard, but there was, because of our offensive struggles, an air of frustration a little bit. Our team held together.”

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Comstock, a second-year transfer from Eastern Washington, scored a season-low nine points and grabbed eight rebounds. She fouled out with under 80 seconds to play in the game.

UH-Hilo scored the first four points of the game, but its strong start would quickly be squashed by HPU, who scored the next 13 points to lead by nine in the first four minutes of the game. The Sharks would hit its first four shots from beyond the three-point line.

Chenise Peone stepped up as Comstock hit foul trouble. She scored 18 points and yanked down seven rebounds.

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Unlike last week’s 34-point blowout in Honolulu, UH-Hilo didn’t hit an extreme lull on offense, but it did shoot just 33.3 percent (20-for-60) from the floor. Last year’s top returning scorer, Kirstie Williams, shot a dismal 0-for-7 from the floor and scored just one point. The Vulcans were just 2-for-15 from the three point line.

Post play was a reason why the Vulcans hung in the game. McKenzie Mangino complimented Reynolds’ career-high day with a 13 point, six rebound performance of her own, despite shooting just 3-for-10 from the floor.

“They were really, really good,” Kaneshiro stated, “not just because they scored, but they were really good in terms of working for positioning before they caught the ball, and once they caught the ball, they made good decisions.”

UH-Hilo, like its opponent, faced foul trouble as well. Whitney Edens was the beneficiary of that, playing 27 minutes and scoring 10 points.

Kylie Huerta added 15 points for HPU, while Veanne Navarro chipped in 13 on 3-4 shooting from distance.

UH-Hilo will face BYU-Hawai’i next Saturday at the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium. Tip-off is scheduled for 4 p.m.

Hawai’i Pacific 40 31 – 71

Hawai’i-Hilo 30 33 – 63

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