HILO — The University of Hawaii at Hilo men’s basketball team’s game on Saturday featured highlight after highlight of fundamentally sound play on both sides of the ball.
Unfortunately for the loyal, supportive and enthusiastic home fans, Point Loma Nazarene displayed it and hammered the Vulcans 79-61 in an afternoon Pacific West Conference contest before a gathering of 384 at UH-Hilo’s gym.
It was UH-Hilo’s fourth straight loss. The home team was down 22 points in the second half. And the Sea Lions (5-18, 2-13 PacWest) didn’t look like a subpar ballclub, at least against the Vulcans (5-17, 3-11).
The Sea Lions ran a motion offense and scored off basic plays — backdoor cuts, layups when driving lanes were unattended and kickouts to open 3-point shooters.
They finished at 58 percent (33 of 57) on field goals. The ball movement showed with 22 assists to 14 turnovers. The team concept showed with the backups outscoring the starters.
Weston Ehlers kept running off screens and making shots, 8-of-12 from the field, including 4-of-8 from 3-point range, for 21 points. Another backup, Sam Okhotin, added 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting.
Defensively, Point Loma threw out a 2-3 zone, a curveball UH-Hilo couldn’t solve. The Vulcans hit only 36 percent (20 of 55) from the floor and didn’t often make the extra pass; they had 11 assists and 11 turnovers.
c Point Loma 51, UH-Hilo 45: Jessica Escorza scored 19 points, and Callie Rhoads had 16 to lead streaking Point Loma Nazarene over the University of Hawaii at Hilo.
Point Loma (13-10, 9-6 Pacific West Conference) used an effective press and tough halfcourt zone defense in the first half to frustrate UH-Hilo (11-9, 8-6) to win its sixth straight game. The Sea Lions of San Diego led 28-14 at the intermission.
The Vulcans struggled from the floor in the opening half, making only 4 of 26 field goals, including 2 of 8 on 3-pointers. They also went a seven-minute stretch without a field goal as Point Loma built on its early lead.
“(In the first half) we lost our poise and started forcing the action against the zone,” UH-Hilo coach David Kaneshiro said. “We also had some careless turnovers. We had some good shots, but it was just one of those nights when the shots didn’t fall.”
The Vulcans played better in the final 20 minutes, outscoring the Sea Lions 31-23. But the visitors made some key shots down the stretch to hold off UH-Hilo for the victory.
“In the second half, we got back into the game in transition and then made some shots,” Kaneshiro said.
The UH-Hilo coach also praised the play of senior Natalie Mata (nine points) and junior Jazzmyn Davis (four points, nine rebounds) for sparking the hosts off the bench.
Senior guard Kirsty Imai led the Vulcans with 15 points, including three treys. Mata and junior Kamie Imai each had nine points, and senior Kirsten Shimizu added six. Kamie Imai also had eight rebounds, four assists, one blocked shot and two steals in a solid all-around performance.
UH-Hilo sweeps Academy of Art
The University of Hawaii at Hilo’s Vanessa Salinas pitched a complete game in the opener and picked up a win in relief in Game 2 as the Vulcans swept Academy of Art 4-2 and 8-5 on Saturday in San Francisco.
Salinas, a junior right-hander from Madera, Calif., scattered five hits in Game 1 for the Vulcans (9-7, 2-2 Pacific West Conference). She went the full seven innings to earn the win while allowing two runs with a walk and two strikeouts.
Salinas (6-4) outdueled AAU starter Kimberly Dauer, who also pitched the distance and took the loss. She gave up seven hits and four runs to go along with two walks and seven strikeouts.
Emily Greene, a 5-foot-8 sophomore, had a two-run homer for UH-Hilo, her fouth of the season, and drove in two runs in the opener. Arren Nunez led the way with three hits and scored twice, while leadoff batter Kristina Victa went 2-for-4.
Lauren Stover was the lone Urban Knight (4-9, 2-2) to pair hits off the 5-foot-4 Salinas.
In Game 2, UH-Hilo broke a 5-5 tie with a run in the top of the sixth inning and added two insurance runs in the seventh to secure the sweep.
Victa and Greene each had three hits to lead the Vulcans’ 11-hit attack. Lee and Aubrey added two hits apiece. Lee also had two runs batted in.
Stover and Haily MacDonald each had two hits for the hosts.
Ashley Nelson started for UH-Hilo and pitched four innings. She allowed four hits and two runs. Hannah Peterson took over in the fourth., and the Urban Knights scored three runs before Salinas came in. Salinas hurled the final 2 2/3 scoreless innings, giving up two hits, two walks and striking out one.
MacDonald started for AAU and went 4 1/3 innings. Dauer (2-5) took over in the fifth and finished. She allowed four hits and three runs while taking the loss.
Vulcans drop pair
Point Loma Nazarene swept the Vulcans 2-0 and 6-4 on Saturday in San Diego.
In Game 1, Justin Lawrence (1-1) pitched a two-hitter, struck out nine and never gave the Vulcans a chance to get untracked at the plate. He set down the first nine batters he faced and didn’t allow a UH-Hilo runner past second base.
The Sea Lions (4-6, 3-1) scored a run in the bottom of the second inning and one in the fifth, and that was all Lawrence needed.
Jeremy Dela Cruz started for the Vulcans and hurled five innings. He allowed five hits and both runs. He walked two and struck out four while being tagged with the loss. Gavin Kinoshita pitched the final three scoreless innings, giving up two runs with a walk and two strikeouts.
Leadoff batter Zach Allen had an RBI single, and Kyle Desimone had two hits and an RBI for Point Loma. Keenan Nishioka and Austin Cusack had UH-Hilo’s hits.
In Game 2, the Vulcans threatened but couldn’t put together a sustained rally to get past the Sea Lions.
Sea Lions starter Sebastian Santos (4 2/3 innings) got the win. Vulcans starter Bryce Shandro (1 2/3 innings) took the loss.
Bryan Burkhead led the hosts with three hits, including a home run, and had two RBIs. John Abreu, Nishioka and Cusack each had two hits for UH-Hilo. Teammate Greg Cleary had a hit and two RBIs.
Stephens Media’s Bill O’Rear and Matt Gerhart contributed to this report.