With nine first-year players, University of Hawaii at Hilo women’s basketball unveiled a look much different than the team that reached the playoffs last season.
There was old: Kamie Imai showed she was still the face of the program; and new: Alexa Jacobs came through with a productive debut.
But ultimately, the Vulcans fell short on opening night.
Jordan Wilson scored 16 points Monday night as Alaska-Fairbanks came back for a 62-61 victory at UH-H gym. Victoria Milton hit a go-ahead jumper with 2:17 remaining as the Nanooks finished the game on a 9-3 run.
“Those are great games to play in,” Fairbanks coach Cody Bench said. “We wanted to take advantage of every opportunity.”
Imai scored 22 points with 10 rebounds and four assists, but the Vulcans (0-1) managed only one point during the final 3:50, a free throw by Jacobs.
On the last possession of the game after a timeout, Imai took an inbounds pass near half-court with 9.8 seconds left and drove the lane and passed to Jacobs, who missed a 3.
“Kamie was aggressive. I thought she bobbled the ball a little bit, but she regained it,” UH-H coach David Kaneshiro said. “It was an open shot.
“It certainly didn’t come down to that.”
The 5-foot-9 Imai took the opening tip, and UH-H’s best offense often came when its only senior got out in the open floor and ran from coast to coast. Imai made 9 of 14 from the field.
Jacobs, a true freshman point guard, finished with 13 points, including two free throws that gave UH-H the lead with 5:09 left. Imai grabbed a rebound on the ensuing possession and fed Jordan Kealoha for a 3-pointer that put the Vulcans up 58-53.
But after Imai hit a jumper to restore the lead to five, UH-H bogged down offensively, missing its final five shots
“It was a struggle all night, espescially offensively,” Kaneshiro said. “We had a number of breakdowns. Fairbanks had a lot to do with that, denying the ball. We didn’t respond to that pressure every well.
“We had some success driving the ball to the basket, but that was kind of the offense. You can’t rely on that. In the half-court, we need to execute much better.”
Fairbanks (4-0) pulled ahead despite 33.3 percent shooting, improving to 5-1 all-time against UH-H. The Nanooks dominated the offensive glass with 21 rebounds and held a 47-40 advantage overall.
MEN’S TOP 25
No. 1 Michigan State 82, Portland 67
EAST LANSING, Mich. — Keith Appling matched a career high with 25 points to help Michigan State pull away from Portland 82-67 in its first game as a top-ranked team in 13 years.
The Spartans (4-0) struggled in the first half, leading by four points after seven lead changes and three ties.
Travis Trice’s 3-pointer broke a tie with 12:26 left and he followed that up seconds later with a steal and layup. Gary Harris made a 3-pionter — the team’s 11th from behind the arc — midway through the second half that put Michigan State ahead by 10 points for the first time.
No. 5 ARIZONA 100,
FAIRLIEGH DICKINSON 50
TUCSON, Ariz. — Gabe York scored 20 points and Nick Johnson added 16 to lead Arizona in the NIT Season Tip-Off.
Arizona (4-0) allowed the Knights to stay close early before blowing open the game with runs of 18-3 and 18-2 in the first half, keyed by Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and T.J. McConnell.
Hollis-Jefferson finished with 13 points, McConnell had nine assists with one turnover and Arizona shot 54 percent to help Sean Miller become the fifth coach to win 100 games in Tucson.
No. 6 DUKE 91,
UNC ASHEVILLE 55
DURHAM, N.C. — Jabari Parker had 21 points and 10 rebounds, and Rodney Hood had 15 of his 18 points in the first half for Duke in the opening round of the NIT Season Tip-Off.
The Blue Devils (3-1) never trailed and shot 57 percent.
Duke held a 42-28 rebounding advantage, built a 20-point first-half lead and coasted to its 104th straight nonconference win at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
No. 9 SYRACUSE 56,
ST. FRANCIS BROOKLYN 50
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Jerami Grant scored 13 points, including a tying follow with 1:43 left, and set up the go-ahead basket by Michael Gbinije in the final minute for Syracuse in an opening-round game of the Maui Invitational.
Syracuse (4-0), making its first appearance in the tournament since winning it in 1998, plays its next game in Hawaii in a week against Minnesota.
The Orange closed the game on a 10-0 run, holding St. Francis scoreless for the final 4:10.
No. 16 FLORIDA 67,
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Casey Prather had 10 points and nine rebounds for Florida, which lost point guard Kasey Hill to an ankle injury.
Hill, a freshman averaging 10 points a game, badly sprained his left ankle early in the second half and had to be helped to the locker room. He did not return.
The injury could be problematic for Florida (3-1), which already is without point guard Scottie Wilbekin. The senior is suspended indefinitely, but he could return as early as next week.
No. 22 UCLA 86,
SACRAMENTO ST. 50
LOS ANGELES — Jordan Adams scored 21 points, including seven straight during a 14-0 second-half run, to lead UCLA.
Adams has led the Bruins (3-0) in scoring in each of their games after breaking his foot to end last season.
Zach LaVine and Norman Powell added 14 points each, David Wear had 12 points and 10 rebounds, and Tony Parker scored 10 points. Kyle Anderson had a career-high eight assists for the Bruins.
By wire sources