Seniors CJ Brown, Michael Melonas and Paul Batausa combined for 57 points to lead the University of Hawaii at Hilo to an 89-80 win over Western Oregon in the teams’ season openers on Friday night.
The preseason men’s NCAA Division II basketball game is part of the four-team PacWest/GNAC Challenge Series being played in Monmouth, Ore. In the earlier contest, Chaminade topped St. Martin’s 89-82.
It was an impressive performance for the Jeff Law-coached Vulcans, who overcame a 36-26 halftime deficit to outscore the hosts 63-44 in the final 20 minutes to earn the victory.
“It was nice to get a win after going back east and playing the two Division I teams,” Law said. “We struggled a little at first tonight. Western Oregon had a lot of energy and got into us defensively. We didn’t shoot very well and had nine turnovers, so we were lucky to only be down by 10 at the half.
“But our guys responded in the second half. We started to hit some shots and relax. We got our legs going, and it was a really nice team effort.”
Brown, a 6-foot-1 point guard from Sacramento, Calif., scored a a career-high 24 points. Melonas, a 6-6 power forward, added 18 points. He also had nine rebounds.
Batausa, a 5-8 senior guard, scored 15 points. Melonas and Batausa played together at Ventura Community College in California before transferring to UH-Hilo last year.
Juniors Derek Owens and Lucas Swanson added 12 and 11 points, respectively, as five UH-Hilo players scored in double figures.
Freshman Andy Avgi led Western Oregon (0-1) with 20 points, and Rodney Webster added 11.
The Vulcans will play St. Martin’s University (0-1) at 12:30 p.m. today, while Chaminade (1-0) battles host Western Oregon.