Vulcans Overcome Icy Shooting to Defeat Dixie State
It was another cold afternoon for the University of Hawai’i women’s basketball team on the offensive end, but defense and intensity were enough to lift the Vulcans to a much needed victory.
UH-Hilo snapped a three game losing streak with a 68-63 win over Dixie State in its first game back since the NCAA Division II-mandated Christmas break.
“There were a lot of times…where we could’ve looked up at the scoreboard and said ‘here we go again,’ said UH-Hilo coach David Kaneshiro. “Tonight, we refused to let it happen, basically, and we made some plays. Kenz [MacKenzie Mangino] made a huge layup, and then we played pretty good defense the rest of the way, made free throws, and took care of the ball.”
There were certainly reasons for the Vulcans to exhibit frustration and disappointment throughout the game. UH-Hilo shot just 5-for-34 from the field in the first half, a miserable 14.7 percent. After a basket by Hayley Reynolds within the first minute of the game, the Vulcans missed their next 13 shots and didn’t drop its next field goal until Mangino’s bucket with under 9:30 left in the first half.
“I felt like in the first half, we were still getting the ball in good spots,” Kaneshiro explained during his postgame radio interview, explaining progress in his team’s half court offense despite the shooting woes.
Despite the frigid shooting, UH-Hilo remained in the game thanks to free throws and defense. The Vulcans were 12-for-14 from the charity stripe in the first 20 minutes of the game and held Dixie State’s top scorer, Kaylah Miller, to just five points on 1-for-6 shooting.
Dixie State (4-8 overall, 3-3 PacWest) held an 11 point lead, its biggest of the game, just four minutes into the second half before the Vulcans rallied back. Whitney Edens sparked a 7-0 run with a three-pointer, grabbing an offensive rebound and putting herself back into position to shoot the clutch shot, to cut the Red Storm lead to 40-32 with 15:52 remaining. Reynolds and Mangino each added a pair of points to complete the run.
Dixie State immediately responded with a 6-0 run of its own to push its lead back to 46-36 with 12:02 left, but the Vulcans would not go away. Foul trouble decimated the Red Storm’s front line, and UH-Hilo took advantage.
Danielle Kooyman scored inside to tie the game at 48-48 with 7:17 remaining. Senior forward Hayley Reynolds was sent to the free throw line constantly, thanks to the officials calling every bit of contact in the low post. She drew a foul on Haileigh Emerine, knocking her out of the game with nearly six-and-a-half minutes remaining, and hit a free throw to put the Vulcans ahead 49-48. Then, she drew Taylor Maynes’ final foul of the game on the next possession, hitting both free throws to even the game at 51-51. She hit two more after another foul to put the Vulcans ahead 53-51 with 5:42 remaining.
Reynolds would foul out of the game, but not before sinking 13 of her 17 free throw attempts and scoring a team-high 17 points.
It continued to go back and forth until Mangino’s scoop shot from the left low post fell in off of the glass. It drew a foul as well, and her free throw tied the game at 60-60. Two possessions later she scored again from point blank range, putting the Vulcans up 62-60 with :50 remaining in the game.
Mangino finished with 15 points and eight rebounds while battling foul trouble. She also earned a technical foul during a second half exchange with Dixie State’s Taylor Maynes, who was also hit with a technical. Kirstie Williams added 11 points and a pair of treys.
Dixie State point guard Leslie Tademy led her squad with 16 points, but turned the ball over seven times. Taylor Mann added 11 points and eight rebounds before fouling out. Miller finished with 10 points on 2-for-14 shooting.
UH-Hilo improved to 3-6 on the season and 2-3 in the PacWest Conference. The Vulcans will host Notre Dame de Namur on Monday at the UHH Gymnasium. Tipoff is scheduled for 5 p.m.
Dixie State 30 33 – 63
Hawai’i-Hilo 23 45 – 68