In the rugged Pacific West Conference, picking up road wins is extremely difficult. When you’re playing the conference leader on its home court, it almost takes a miracle to pull off the upset.
But the University of Hawaii at Hilo women’s basketball team accomplished the rare feat on Saturday afternoon, shocking conference-leading Academy of Art on Shannon Rousseau’s 3-pointer at the buzzer to register a heart-pounding 60-57 victory in San Francisco.
The Vulcans (8-6 overall) improved to 5-3 in the PacWest standings, while the host Urban Knights (12-4) dipped to 5-1 in the conference. It was also the third straight road win for UH-Hilo head coach David Kaneshiro and his Vulcans. They close the four-game trip on Monday, playing at Holy Names University (9-6, 3-3) in Oakland, Calif.
“We’re really excited about the win,” Kaneshiro said. “We know we beat a very good team today, and we know we can still get better as a team. I’m proud of our ladies; it’s a big win for us.”
AAU trailed by six points at the half and fought back to tie the contest at 57-57 on two free throws from Jordan Rogers with 46 seconds remaining.
The Vulcans turned the ball over on their next possession, but they forced an Urban Knight turnover with 12 seconds left to give them a final chance at victory.
As time ticked down, Kamie Imai drove and found Rousseau on the perimeter and she released her 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded.
UH-Hilo celebrated the win, keeping the Vulcans in the thick of the hunt for a berth in the season-ending, six-team PacWest tournament.
Rousseau, a 5-foot-7 senior forward from Colorado Springs, Colo., led UH-Hilo with 12 points. She finished with a perfect day, going 4-for-4 on field goals — all 3-pointers. Senior Kirsty Imai followed with 10 points and three steals.
Juniors Jazzmyn Davis (nine points, six rebounds) and Kamie Imai (eight points, five assists) also played well. Guards Jameia McDuffie and Kirsten Shimizu added six and four points, respectively, while senior Jazlyn Afusia had five points and three assists.
Senior Katy Wade led AAU with 15 points and 16 rebounds. Freshman Regina Camera had 13 points and eight steals, and freshman ShaNice Storey contributed 11 points and five steals.
Kaneshiro said the first half set the tone for possibly his biggest road win during his three years as the UH-Hilo head coach.
“We got off to a very good start,” Kaneshiro said. “We shot the ball well, we guarded well, and we handled the ball well. It’s the best half of basketball we’ve played by far all year.”
UH-Hilo started the game strong, racing to leads of 8-0 and 13-2 before the Urban Knights settled down and cut the Vulcans’ lead to 38-32 at the intermission.
“They came back really strong in the second half,” Kaneshiro said. “They turned up the defensive pressure and made timely shots. But I’m proud of our ladies because they hung tough against a lot of adversity and found a way to win.”
AAU 82, UH-Hilo 58: Freshman Alex Carmon scored 20 points, senior Ameer Shamsud-din added 19, and sophomore Aaron Anderson had 13 to lead Academy of Art.
Senior Mychael Hearn scored 10 points to lead UH-Hilo (3-13, 1-7 PacWest). Teammates CJ Brown and Paul Batausa each added nine points, and Kiel Myers had eight. Brown, Batausa and Myers are seniors.
AAU (4-9, 2-4) led 41-32 at the intermission.
“I thought we got outplayed today and didn’t shoot the ball very well,” UH-Hilo head coach Jeff Law said. “We also shot just 14-of-34 from the line and didn’t match their energy.”