#6 Cal Baptist Struggles Past UH-Hilo Women
Monday night’s effort and performance from the University of Hawai’i at Hilo women’s basketball team was arguably its best shown all season. It wasn’t good enough, however, to knock off one of the hottest teams in the country.
A key 9-0 run in the fourth quarter allowed the California Baptist Lancers to pull away from gritty UH-Hilo by the final score of 71-60. It was the second win by the Lancers over the Vulcans this season, but Monday’s game was a lot closer than the 96-53 wipeout in California back on Jan. 5.
Cal Baptist (18-1 PacWest, 10-1 overall) was 1-for-10 from the floor to open the game, a surprising number from the top shooting team in the PacWest at 45.9 percent. Despite being down 9-4 midway through the opening period, the Lancers closed out the quarter on an 8-0 run to take a 16-12 lead.
UH-Hilo (4-11, 4-6) would not go away. After trading baskets within the first minute of the second, forward Patience Taylor evened the game at 18-18. That’s when Kamille Diaz, a sharp-shooting junior guard, took control of the quarter for the visitors, scoring five in a row to cap a 7-0 run that pushed the Lancers back up at 25-18 with 6:47 left in the opening half..
Early in the third, Cal Baptist kept UH-Hilo at an arm’s reach distance as the game stayed close until Sydney Mercer drained a three-pointer with 3:14 left in the third, after Alexa Jacobs grabbed an offensive rebound off of a miss from Kim Schmelz, to tie the game at 48-48.
Cal Baptist’s Darsha Burnside answered on the other end with an offensive rebound and put back to give the Lancers the 50-48 lead. The advantage was temporary, though, as Schmelz followed with a layup the other way to nod the game again at 50-50 with less than two minutes remaining.
The game never got any closer, as Cal Baptist went on an 8-0 run bridging the end of the third quarter and start of the fourth quarter, and later used a 9-0 run to take its biggest lead, 15 points, at 65-50 with 4:08 remaining in the game.
Junior guard Courtney Nelson stepped up for sixth-ranked Cal Baptist, taking a bigger scoring role as leading scorer Cassidy Mihalko dealt with foul trouble and Diaz struggled from outside the arc. Nelson shot 11-for-20 from the field, scoring 24 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Mihalko, the conference’s leading scorer entering the game, got 17 and nine rebounds before fouling out, and Diaz scored 10 points, but shot 1-for-8 from beyond the arc.
Mercer led UH-Hilo with 17 points on 3-for-8 shooting from three-point range, and Schmelz added 13 points and eight rebounds.
“This was the longest, as far as minutes putting possessions together, that we played well on both ends,” said UH-Hilo coach David Kaneshiro. “We’ve obviously had a lot to improve on from November, but they’ve been extremely coachable.”
UH-HIlo went 2-3 in their five-game homestand, which ended Monday. The Vulcans head to the road for a key four-game road trip, starting Saturday at Notre Dame de Namur.
Cal Baptist 16 17 19 19 – 71
Hawai’i-Hilo 12 19 17 12 – 60