HILO — The University of Hawaii at Hilo women’s basketball team played hard to the end, battling back from an early 14-point deficit, but it didn’t do a really good job of blocking out against taller Cal Baptist.
Cal Baptist defeated the Vulcans 60-50 in a Pacific West Conference game on Saturday before 404 fans at the UH-Hilo gym, winning its fifth straight to climb in the standings while making life tougher for the home team’s bid for a spot in the inaugural six-team playoffs.
The Lancers (15-5 overall, 9-3 PacWest) were bigger at every position and enjoyed that height advantage, outrebounding the Vulcans 54-37, including an eye-opening 20 offensive boards; UH-Hilo (11-8, 8-5) had just eight in a game where accurate shooting took the night off.
“We played hard but were out of rhythm offensively the entire night,” UH-Hilo coach David Kaneshiro said. “But give Cal Baptist credit for that. I’m proud of the way we battled.
“We struggled with field goals and free throws.”
UH-Hilo shot 38 percent (21-of-56) from the field, including 2-of-13 from 3-point range. Cal Baptist hit 30 percent from the floor but got to the line and made 20 of 31 free throws. The Vulcans connected on just 6 of 17 free throws for 35 percent, a worse shooting percentage than from the field .
In the first half, the Lancers kept turning and converting short jumpers over the Vulcans during a 14-0 run to grab a 16-2 lead. Then UH-Hilo immediately answered with a run of its own, albeit a much smaller one. Natalie Mata scored four points during a short 8-0 scoring spree, sparked when the home team started to block out, rebound and get the ball out to the wings.
They trailed 29-16 at halftime. They came out in the second half and attacked the basketball, chipping away at the lead and got it down to five with 10 minutes left when Shannon Rousseau drilled a 3-pointer, getting UH-Hilo within 43-38.
Jasmine Beverly, at 5 feet, 11 inches tall, gave the Vulcans all sorts of trouble. She scored 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting and grabbed 15 rebounds. Myriah Hicks added 14 points, and Simone Holmes had 12 for the Lancers, who buried only 4 of 22 3-point attempts.
Kamie Imai (nine rebounds), Kirsty Imai and Jazzmyn Davis scored 10 points apiece for UH-Hilo.
“We’ve got four more home games. We’ve got a lot to play for,” Kaneshiro said.
Cal Baptist 83, UH-Hilo 70: Luke Evans scored 16 points, Ivan Patterson and Anthony Romero added 15 apiece, and Anthony Cosentino had 10 to lead Cal Baptist at UH-Hilo’s gym.
The Lancers improved to 13-7 overall and 7-5 in the PacWest. The host Vulcans slipped to 5-16 and 3-10, respectively.
Senior CJ Brown and juniors Oxone-Ross Mavungu and Brandon Thomas each scored 12 points to lead UH-Hilo. Junior Derek Owens added 11, senior Paul Batausa added 10, and junior Lucas Swanson had nine in a balanced attack.
The Lancers led 36-28 at the intermission before outscoring the Vulcans 47-42 in the final 20 minutes.
Cal Baptist shot 58 percent (31 of 53) from the field, 33 percent (4 of 12) on 3-pointers and 65 percent (17 of 26) from the free-throw line. UH-Hilo was 39 percent (24 of 61) from the floor, 24 percent (5 of 21) on treys and 68 percent (17 of 25) from the line.
The taller Lancers also had 38 rebounds, 11 assists, 18 turnovers, three blocked shots and three steals compared to the Vulcans’ 29, 14, 12, two and 11, respectively. Swanson had a game-high five steals for the hosts.
The UH-Hilo teams next host San Diego’s Point Loma on Feb. 16, with the women playing at noon and the men at 2:30 p.m.