Johnna Brown scored 16 points and pulled down 10 rebounds to lead Dixie State to an 85-75 win over the University of Hawaii at Hilo on Saturday in St. George, Utah.
It was the Pacific West Conference women’s basketball season opener for both teams.
The host Red Storm improved to 3-3 overall and 1-0 in the PacWest. The Vulcans slipped to 2-3 and 0-1.
“We played hard and competed well,” UH-Hilo coach David Kaneshiro said. “We just made some mistakes, and they capitalized on them.
“I’m disappointed in the loss, but I feel positive about the next 17 games in conference. Dixie State was picked to finish third this year, and we did some really good things against them.”
The Red Storm led 39-28 at the intermission, but the Vulcans sliced the lead to two points at about the 17 minute mark in the second half.
“We made a good run, but Dixie State built it back up to double digits,” Kaneshiro said. “When we executed and moved the ball, we were very effective. But on defense, we got out of position at times and that led to some of their offensive rebounds. They (the Red Storm) were a little more consistent than we were.
“Overall, I’m pleased with our effort against a good team.”
The Vulcans outscored Dixie State 47-46 in the final half.
Junior Kamie Imai led UH-Hilo with a game-high 22 points. She made 9 of 16 field goals to go along with five rebounds, six assists and two steals.
“Kamie had a nice game,” Kaneshiro said. “She shot the ball well and made a lot of good things happen with her six assists.”
Sister Kirsty Imai, a senior guard, followed with 15 points, hitting 9 of 15 field goals.
“Kirsty shot the ball well and had a good defensive game,” the UH-Hilo coach said. “We had her matched up against Dixie State’s best shooter, and Kirsty did a nice job on her.”
Junior Jazzmyn Davis followed the Imais with 11 points and a team-high eight rebounds.
Brown led a balanced Dixie State attack with 16 points. Mandy Munns had 15 points, Jordan Chiles scored 13 and Chanel Maxey added 12.
c Dixie State 82, UH-Hilo 64: Down by only two at halftime, the Vulcans shot themselves out of contention.
Dalton Groskreutz scored 19 points, and Zach Robbins had 17 points with 14 rebounds as the Red Storm pulled away to win the PacWest opener.
UH-Hilo (1-5, 0-1), picked by the coaches to finish 11th in the 14-team league, was simply bad in all three shooting areas in the second half. The Vulcans barely hit 20 percent of their shots from the field; they made only 3 of 16 from 3-point range and were 8 of 17 from the line.
“Loved the first half. We played focused and great. We were playing really good,” coach Jeff Law said. “But in the second half, we couldn’t buy a basket. We let that kind of define us how we played.
“I think we let our offense dictate what we were doing on defense. When we came out and missed a couple of shots and they didn’t, we could never get the (lead) back down.”
UH-Hilo got good production from its guards. Senior CJ Brown scored 15 points, and senior Mychael Hearn and junior Lucas Swanson added 13 each.
Robbins, a 6-foot-10 sophomore, was a force inside, however, as the Red Storm (4-2, 0-1) dominated the glass, holding a 47-33 rebounding edge.
UH-Hilo senior forward Michael Melonas didn’t take a shot in 22 minutes, finishing with one point and six rebounds.
Brown hit a 3-pointer to get UH-Hilo within four points with 17:25 left to play, but Groskreutz, a 6-5 junior forward, made a layup and hit a 3-pointer as the Red Storm went on an 11-0 run.
Their lead was never below double digits again.
“We play really well in spurts,” Robbins told the Dixie State sports information office. “Tonight, the second half was an entire spurt.”
The UH-Hilo teams close their two-game PacWest road trip on Monday night against Grand Canyon University in Phoenix.
The Vulcans will host Urbana University (Ohio) on Dec. 14, Saint Edward’s University on Dec. 19 and Champion Baptist College on Dec. 29 before resuming conference action against Notre Dame de Namur on Jan. 3 at UH-Hilo Gym.
The Lady Vulcans return home and host Central Washington University on Dec. 17-18 at UH-Hilo gym before battling Nore Dame de Namur on Jan. 3.