The struggling University of Hawaii at Hilo men’s basketball team is hoping to finish December on a high note before returning to conference play in January.
The Vulcans (1-7 overall, 0-2 PacWest Conference) host St. Edward’s University (8-6) at 3 p.m. today in an NCAA Division II game at the UH-Hilo gym. The Hilltoppers from Austin, Texas, won their first two games earlier this week in the Oahu Classic in Honolulu, beating 10th-ranked Northwestern Missouri 59-50 and Harding University 69-66. They played against Oneonta State on Tuesday night.
“They’re an athletic team, a dangerous team,” UH-Hilo head coach Jeff Law said. “They shoot the 3-pointer really well, and it will be a tough game for us.”
The Vulcans are coming off a disappointing 98-64 loss to visiting Urbana University last Friday at the Keaau High gym. UH-Hilo had 31 turnovers and was dominated on the boards by the visitors.
Law said his team played poorly and didn’t give the type of effort it needed to compete against a talented Urbana squad.
The Hilltoppers, under head coach Andre Cook, play in the 10-school Heartland Conference. They are led in scoring by 6-foot-7 senior Shimeek Johnson (16.4 points per game), 6-5 junior James Stukes (10.2) and 6-2 senior Jeff Campbell (8.4). Campbell drained a 3-pointer with 6 seconds left to beat Harding University on Monday.
Both Johnson (33 percent) and Campbell (31 percent) shoot the 3-pointer well, and that strategy is a key part of St. Edward’s offensive attack. The Hilltoppers average 71 points per game.
UH-Hilo is led in scoring by senior guard CJ Brown, who is averaging 13.3 points and a team-high 2.5 assists per game. He’s also shooting a team-high 85 percent from the free-throw line and 39 percent from 3-point range.
Following today’s game against St. Edward’s, the Vulcans host Champion Baptist College (3-10) on Dec. 29 to close out 2012. The teams play at 7:30 p.m. that evening at the UH-Hilo gym.
The Vulcans return to PacWest action on Jan. 3, hosting Notre Dame de Namur at 7:30 p.m. at the UH-Hilo gym. At 5 p.m., the Lady Vulcans take on the Argonauts in the preliminary game.