Mix of Youth and Experience Guide PLNU Women Past UHH
Point Loma Nazarene head coach Bill Westphal went into Wednesday’s road game against the University of Hawai’i at Hilo looking to find a group of players that could play successful team basketball.
He found a few of them in the Sea Lions’ 72-57 win over UH-Hilo, capping a three-game Hawai’i road trip in which Point Loma finished with a 2-1 record.
Senior leader Jessica Escorza, last year’s second-team All-PacWest selection, led the way with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Freshman Paola Roa, only in her sixth game back from a shoulder injury, scored 16 points on 6-for-15 shooting.
“She [Roa] played pretty well. She made some tough shots,” said UH-Hilo coach David Kaneshiro after the game.
Another freshman, Roya Rustamzada, added 14 points with a pair of treys. The pair of rookies led a determined effort from the Sea Lions’ bench, which scored 37 of their 72 points in the game.
UH-Hilo (4-7 overall, 3-4 PacWest) started the game strong, opening with a 7-0 run in the first 2:37 of the game. A long shooting spell later in the half allowed Point Loma to turn the momentum in its favor. The Vulcans were held without a field goal for over six-and-a-half minutes, allowing the Sea Lions to take the lead at 19-18 on a pair of Escorza free throws with under six minutes to play in the half. As the drought continued, Point Loma extended the lead out to as much as five points with about 2:30 left in the period.
Point Loma Nazarene would not give up the lead from there. An 8-0 run at the start of the half extended the Sea Lions’ lead to 37-24 with 16:38 remaining in the game. The Vulcans would get within six points on a Kirstie Willimas three-pointer with 6:53 left, but a quick 4-0 Sea Lions’ charge kept the Vulcans away for good.
“Tough loss,” said Kaneshiro. “I think we played hard. For both teams, it was the third game in five nights, so obviously, some tired legs. I thought we battled. Second half, I thought we did a better job moving the ball against the zone. We just couldn’t quite get over the hump.”
McKenzie Mangino continued to pace the Vulcans in the scoring column, putting in 18 points and grabbing seven rebounds. Alexa Jacobs scored 10 points off of the bench to match her season high.
The Vulcans struggled to shoot from most spots on the floor. UH-Hilo shot 31.7 percent (20-for-63) from the floor, 5-for-22 from beyond the arc, and 13-for-22 from the free throw line.
Point Loma, however, converted all but two of its 25 free throw attempts. The Sea Lions also out-rebounded UH-Hilo 42-35.
Madison West contributed to Point Loma’s winning effort, scoring 10 points and grabbing seven rebounds.
UH-Hilo went 2-3 on its five game homestand. The Vulcans now head to the road, opening a critical four-game trip against Dominican University on Jan. 17.
Point Loma 29 43 – 72
Hawai’i-Hilo 24 34 – 58