HPU drops Vulcans behind balanced scoring, dominant rebounding effort

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED JAN 20, 2024

HONOLULU — The Hawai’i Pacific University women’s basketball team put behind an embarrassing loss to bounce back in a big way, taking down the University of Hawai’i-Hilo Vulcans inside the Shark Tank Saturday afternoon, 66-52, as eight different Sharks chipped in six or more points. 

Coming off a brutal road loss to Chaminade, 77-66, that saw HPU shoot 66% from the foul line across 33 attempts and miss close-range shot after close-range shot, Ray Alvarado’s squad was faced with an important January home game against a rival to keep PacWest playoff hopes alive. 

It was visiting Hilo that opened things hot, going up 8-3 in the first four minutes of the contest before HPU’s Haley Masaki drilled a three on a nice kick-out from Megan Jones to calm the Sharks. Hawai’i Pacific stabilized, taking a one-point lead into the second quarter as six players had at least one basket for the home squad.  

That one-point advantage would carry through into the halftime break as the teams stayed close with one another by trading short runs and good, chaos-causing defense for a 32-31 game as the teams left for the locker rooms.  

HPU opened the second half with a renewed focus, pushing the lead up to eight points at one point as Jones, Kalina Obrey and Leslie Mojica turned the heat up with sweet shooting and pesky defense. UHH’s Jeniece Harmon’s jumper with 1:16 left in the third would bring the Vulcans back within six before a Jones free throw made it 48-41 as the game entered the fourth. 

Despite increased pressure from Hilo, HPU calmly handled business over the final 10 minutes by taking care of the ball and making free throws, a stark contrast from Thursday’s loss at Chaminade, to pick up the third straight win over UH-Hilo, 66-52. 

Vulcans’ guard Keirstyn Agonias led all scorers with 16 points and nine boards in the loss, also collecting four blocks throughout the day. Do-it-all forward Kamala Kamakawiwoole struggled against the length of Jones and strength of Obrey, shooting 2-of-9 from the floor to tally just six points and three rebounds before fouling out. 

Hawai’i Pacific was led by Maskai’s 11 points (8-8 FT) as the junior handed out five assists in the win. Kalina Obrey followed closely behind with 10 points and freshman Leslie Mojica finished with 9 points and four rebounds off the bench to help propel the Sharks to victory. HPU dominated on the offensive glass, grabbing 16 offensive rebounds on the way to the win. 

HPU returns to action on Tuesday, hosting PacWest leader #12 Azusa Pacific at 2 p.m. HT. 

Tune into all the action on 95.1 FM, AM 760 and streaming on hawaiisportsradio.com or catch the game afterwards on demand where most podcasts are found and under the “HPU Sharks” tab on HSRN’s website.