Sports

Vulcan Women Grit Out Victory over NDNU

January 6, 2015, 11:43 AM HST
* Updated January 6, 11:46 AM
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It hasn’t been pretty, but it has been good enough.

Despite shooting just 32 percent for the game, the University of Hawai’i at Hilo women’s basketball team rallied back from a double-digit deficit to defeat Notre Dame de Namur 58-53 at the University of Hawai’i at Hilo Gymnasium.

UH-Hilo (4-6 overall, 3-3 PacWest) found itself buried in an early double-digit hole. The Argonauts led by as much as 13 points in the first half, thanks to a 10-0 scoring run midway through the half. Reserve forwards Coco Bradley and Erin Skinner contributed six of the 10 points during the run.

The Vulcans kept afloat thanks to key bench contributions. Chelsea Santos drained her first field goal of the season, a three-pointer with under nine minutes play in the first half to cut Notre Dame de Namur’s lead to 24-15. As a whole, UH-Hilo’s bench contributed 26 points, and everyone who got into the game scored.

UH-Hilo settled in defensively in the second half against the Argonauts’ best player, Kirsten Liana. After scoring nine in the first half, Liana, a Farrington High School graduate and a transfer from Dixie State, was held to just five second half points and finished with a team-high 14. She also grabbed seven rebounds, but shot 4-for-16 from the field.

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“We went a little bit big,” said UH-Hilo head coach David Kaneshiro in describing his second half adjustment. “Hayley [Reynolds] guarded her for most of the second half, and even when we took Hayley out, we went with Kenz [McKenzie Mangino]. She was hurting us in the low post, so we tried to get a little bit bigger. It still wasn’t our best game defensively, they got to the offensive boards too much, but again, down the stretch, we did what we needed to do and we hung tough and found a way, so hopefully we’re gaining confidence from wins like this.”

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The Vulcans’ bench continued to impact the game. A 9-0 run, sparked by three-point baskets from Alexa Jacobs and Whitney Edens and Santos’ three-point play conversion, cut NDNU’s 11-point lead down to 44-42 near the midway point of the second half.

“Alexa Jacobs, Chelsea Santos played really well,” said Kaneshiro. “I thought Tricia Amuimuia did a nice job, and Whitney Edens played great, so they stepped up, and certainly we needed every bit of it tonight.”

McKenzie Mangino tied the game on the next possession, scooping a shot in around NDNU’s Kirsten Liana, who also committed a foul on the play. Mangino converted the free throw to tie the game at 45-45 with 9:59 remaining.

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Mangino scored 15 points and pulled down 11 rebounds to lead her team. She was the only player in double-figures in either category.

Santos struck again the next time down the court, scoring on a layup to give the Vulcans a 47-45 lead.

From there, both teams each had control of the lead until UH-Hilo closed the game on a 9-0 run in the final 3:51 to finish strong.

“I think we’re doing some things better,” Kaneshiro said in assessment of his team at this point of the season. “We still lack a little from an execution standpoint, so we still have some things we can work on, especially offensively, but I think some of that, too, is just coming back from a break.”

Notre Dame de Namur dropped to 2-11 on the season and 0-6 in PacWest Conference action.

The Vulcans will play their third game in five nights on Wednesday against Point Loma Nazarene. Tipoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. at the UHH Gymnasium. The game will be live streamed at the UH-Hilo athletics’ website.

Notre Dame de Namur 37 16 – 53

Hawai’i-Hilo 30 28 – 58

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