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Vulcan Men Fall Short Again Against HPU

December 14, 2014, 1:41 PM HST
* Updated December 14, 1:44 PM
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After last Saturday’s loss to Hawai’i Pacific University, University of Hawai’i at Hilo men’s basketball coach GE Coleman talked about his team’s inability to execute the “little things” that hurt his team’s chances of winning.

In another close game Saturday afternoon at the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium, those little details came back to haunt the Vulcans again. UH-Hilo fell to Hawai’i Pacific 73-68 to fall to 0-3 in the PacWest Conference.

“At the end of the game, it just came down to getting stops, rebounding, and again, free throws nipped us again,” said Coleman after the game. “We gotta step up. We gotta make them down the stretch, and we didn’t do that.”

The key missed free throw came with under a minute to play, as Tre Johnson was fouled by HPU’s Clayton Guy on a loose ball play, sending Johnson to the line with his Vulcans trailing 69-67. Johnson made the first, but missed the second to remain down.

UH-Hilo (4-5 overall, 0-3 PacWest) did have another chance with less than 15 seconds left in the game and two timeouts. Coleman elected not to stop play, and Marcello Campbell missed a contested runner in the paint. The Sharks secured the rebound and avoided being fouled, allowing for a Justin Long basket with :0.1 on the clock to put an exclamation point on the victory.

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Both teams traded the lead six times, and no one held a lead any larger than five points at any point in time in the game.

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Hawai’i Pacific (5-2, 2-1) took a one point lead into the locker room at halftime, largely fueled by a three-point shooting barrage. The Sharks drained seven in the first half and made 10 in the game. Darry Jones Jr., Justin Long, Josh Morgan, and John Horowitz each hit a pair of treys.

Both of Horowitz’ treys were game-changers in the second half. His first put HPU ahead 55-53 near the midway point of the second half. About two minutes later, he broke a 56-56 tie with a corner three.

“We allowed ten three pointers to a team that does not shoot it very well, to be frank with you,” Coleman explained.

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Johnson picked up his second double-double of the year, scoring 18 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. Campbell also scored 18 points, and Darius Johnson-Wilson added 14 points and eight rebounds to lead UH-Hilo, who outrebounded HPU 36-31.

Long scored a game-high 22 points for HPU, shooting 4-for-11 from the field and 10-for-10 from the charity stripe. Luke Hager, reigning PacWest Player of the Week, added 17 points and nine rebounds.

UH-Hilo’s last three losses have each come by five points, with another loss last week on the road at Chaminade. Coleman knows that his team needs to find a way to finish games.

“We’ve just gotta find a way to get over the top,” said a disappointed Coleman. “We gotta be able to close it out down the stretch.”

It’s early, but the close losses are starting become familiar to a team that lost 17 games in a row last year and six by six points or less.

“Unfortunately, I have had great experience in this from last year,” said Coleman. “We’ve just gotta get back. We can’t hang our head. We can’t pout. It’s part of life. You’ve got to get up off the canvas and we need a good week of practice and get ready for, arguably, one of the best teams in the country coming in Saturday.”

BYU-Hawai’i, ranked sixteenth in the country with an 8-0 record, will visit UH-Hilo at the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium. Tip time is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

Hawai’i Pacific 37 36 – 73

Hawai’i Hilo 36 32 – 68

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