Vulcan Men End Season with OT Loss
The University of Hawai’i at Hilo men’s basketball team couldn’t hold on to a nine-point lead at the end of regulation and fell to Dominican University 88-82 in overtime.
It marked the final appearance in a Vulcan uniform for four seniors: Dominique Campbell, Yevgeniy Dyachenko, Joey Rodriguez, and Darnell Williams.
Rodriguez was the star of the show Saturday night. The two-year Vulcan scored 21 points in the first half, dueling with Dominican guard Matt Hayes, who also scored 21 points in the opening 20 minutes. Rodriguez was 5-for-5 from beyond the arc, including a trey from the top of the arc with less than a second remaining in the first half to cut down Dominican’s halftime lead to 39-35.
“When Joey plays like that, he’s a special player,” said UH-Hilo coach GE Coleman after the game. “In this whole homestand, the last three games, he really played well.”
Hayes, along with his Dominican teammates, were proficient in finding the bottom of the net from long range. Hayes hit four threes of his own, and as a team, Dominican shot 7-for-9 from beyond the arc in the opening half.
The three-pointer from Rodriguez that ended the half, however, helped carry momentum into the Vulcans’ locker room. The home team was eager to carry it into the second half. The trey was part of an 11-0 run that carried through both halves, turning a nine-point UH-Hilo deficit with :55 left in the first half into a two-point lead with 17:21 to play in the second half.
UH-Hilo (12-14 overall, 8-12 PacWest) didn’t relinquish the lead, but only seemed to build on it. Off of a missed shot, Dominique Campbell broke away for a transition dunk to give the Vulcans its biggest lead, 63-54, with under nine minutes left in the game.
The key moment in Dominican’s comeback came with 2:23 remaining in the game. Rodriguez lost the ball off of an official’s foot as he was hounded in a double-team near mid-court. On the other end, Dominique Taplin was fouled by Dominique Campbell on the way to the rim, and officials called it an intentional foul, giving the Penguins two free throws and the ball back.
“To be honest, that changed the whole dynamic of this game. To me, that’s a blocked shot,” Coleman said after the game. “We’ve still got to find a way to overcome that. I thought our seniors did everything they could.”
Taplin hit one of his two free throws, and Hayes drilled a three falling to the ground to cut the UH-Hilo lead to 75-71 with 2:13 to play.
Later, after a Tre Johnson turnover, Taplin converted a layup to cut the deficit in half. On the next possession, Taplin drove into the paint and drew a foul on Vandyon Lockett, leading to two more free throws to tie the score with :25 remaining.
Rodriguez would get the final shot in regulation, but his three-pointer over Taplin missed from the left side, forcing overtime.
Dominican (13-15, 10-10) used its size to its advantage in the extra five minutes. Mathew Lipski, a 6-foot-10 force in the paint, scored inside to give Dominican the early advantage. On the next possession, an offensive rebound by Karl Ohrner extended the, and Lipski would follow a miss with another basket two trips later to give the Penguins ann 81-78 lead.
UH-Hilo would cut the deficit down to one point three times, but couldn’t get any closer as it missed its last four shots from the floor.
Hayes led the Penguins with 27 points. Christopher Schwartz-Edmisten added 18 points on 11-of-12 shooting from the free throw line. Taplin contributed 18 points and Lipski added 10 with 10 rebounds.
Three of the four Vulcan seniors scored in double-digits Saturday night, led by Rodriguez’ 27 points. Williams added 15 and Campbell poured in 10 before fouling out. Johnson, a junior, added 11 points and nine rebounds.
Unlike the women’s squad, there will be a nucleus of players returning for Coleman’s squad, including Lockett, Johnson, Randan Berinobis, and Darius Johnson-Wilson. There will be some work to do, however, to replenish the roster for the 2015-2016 season.
“I fly out tomorrow (Sunday) at 11 a.m. I’ll be gone for about a month covering Washington, California, and Nevada,” said Coleman.
UH-Hilo finished the season with 12 wins, something that hasn’t happened since the 2010-2011 season under Jeff Law. For Coleman, it’s about building the program back up, and the next recruiting class will be crucial in taking the Vulcans to the next level.