Vulcans Hang on For Key Win Over Academy of Art
Thursday night’s PacWest men’s basketball matchup between Academy of Art and the University of Hawai’i at Hilo meant more than just an opportunity for a key conference win, especially for the home team.
For GE Coleman’s Vulcans, the contest was also about overcoming adversity and attrition, as well as re-writing the course of its season.
With only six players seeing meaningful action, UH-Hilo struggled, but held on for a 72-69 win over Academy of Art, earning its second straight win of the season.
“When you get a PacWest win, it’s a good thing,” Coleman said after the game.
It is the first time this season that UH-Hilo had strung together games in the win column following an 0-9 start that was dominated by numerous injuries. Last Saturday, a buzzer-beating three-pointer by Jordan Russell got the Vulcans in the win column for the first time in 2015-2016, beating Point Loma Nazarene in overtime by the final of 88-85.
The adversity didn’t go away, however, once UH-Hilo found the win column for the first time. Within 48 hours of Thursday’s game, freshman guard Patrick Ball left the team, citing personal reasons.
“Patrick, for personal reasons, has left, and we wish him the best, but he decided that he didn’t want to be here anymore to take care of personal matters,” Coleman said in his postgame radio interview.
Couple Ball’s departure with the continued absence of Darius Johnson-Wilson (leg injury), Nate Walker (illness), and Chris Holmes (ineligible), and the Vulcans were without four players who combined for over 30 points so far this season.
You wouldn’t have noticed how shorthanded UH-Hilo was early, as the Vulcans ignited a 10-0 run to open the game, ignited by a pair of three-pointers from Russell and Parker Farris. That opening cushion would be a lifeline for Coleman’s squad, who struggled to take care of the basketball for much of the rest of the half.
Academy of Art (4-10 overall, 2-6 PacWest) dug into its bench to keep the game close. Junior guard Chris Salas immediately sprung into action, scoring 11 first half points to stay close with UH-Hilo. The Urban Knights got 38 bench points on the night, including Salas’ 16, while the Vulcans got no points from its limited bench. Still, UH-Hilo went in to the locker room with a 36-25 lead.
The visitors slowly tried to cut into UH-Hilo’s lead, paced by another bench player, Marshawn McMahan. He scored 13 of his 19 points in the second half. But, the Vulcans got enough big shots late to hold their opponents off. Vandyon Lockett his three consecutive treys in the second half to push his team’s lead back to seven points at 62-55 with 4:54 remaining.
The lead still wasn’t safe, falling to three points with less than a minute remaining in the game, but Herman Pratt IV’s missed trey at the buzzer sealed the emotional win for UH-Hilo.
“I knew after the first four minutes of the second half that we were in for a dogfight,” Coleman explained. “We were up by 11 at half, and if you give a team like that confidence coming out of the half, instead of winning that first four minutes, you’re gonna have a ball game every time.”
Tired legs may have also played a factor in Academy of Art’s comeback. UH-Hilo gave up 18 offensive rebounds and were outrebounded 48-39. The Urban Knights took advantage of several of those chances, accumulating 15 second chance points.
Salim Gloyd, playing in just his fourth game of the season because of NCAA eligibility issues, led all scorers with 28 points. The transfer from the University of Indianapolis brought down a game-high 12 rebounds while shooting 10-for-18 from the floor. Farris added 17 points on five treys. Lockett also had 17 points.
Tyler Sabino scored 13 points in Academy of Art’s losing effort. Leading scorer Jace Harrison, who averaged 12.5 points per game entering the contest, was held to just six points on 2-for-7 shooting.
Academy of Art 25 44 – 69
Hawai’i Hilo – 36 36 – 72