Hawai’i Pacific downs Westmont late to win PacWest opener, 78-74

Hawai’i Pacific downs Westmont late to win PacWest opener, 78-74

Hawai’i Pacific downs Westmont late to win PacWest opener, 78-74 


HONOLULU — The Hawai’i Pacific University Sharks (5-3, 1-0 PacWest) took down the Westmont College Warriors (4-3, 1-1 PacWest), 78-74, on Saturday afternoon at the Shark Tank, using Diggy Winbush’s game-high 27 points to down the former NAIA-turned-Division 2 program. 

The afternoon started with a bang when Warriors’ forward Jalen Townsell hammered home a poster dunk on the break for the game’s first points. The teams traded baskets in a fast-paced start to the contest, tied at nine after five minutes of play as HPU’s Diggy Winbush and Matthew Van Komen paced the Sharks. 

A Winbush 3-pointer following the first timeout of the day gave HPU their first lead of the afternoon, going up 12-11 with 14:28 left in the opening half of play. Westmont would respond in turn with a Drew Ramirez triple on the next possession, taking back the momentum with a 13-4 run to jump ahead by eight, 24-16, and force a Sharks’ timeout. 

Following the break, HPU would heat up from long distance, knocking down three straight from deep in 90 seconds to go back in front by one. The Sharks continued the run by establishing Van Komen deep in the post and Josh Niusulu finding the Midas touch from 3-point territory to make it a six-point advantage with 3:11 left in the 1st half. 

The HPU lead would grow to double-digits just before halftime as Charlie Weber, an ETSU transfer, made his debut for the Sharks and got his first basket in the sharkskin-grey uniforms for the home squad. Westmont leading scorer Anthony McIntyre drilled a three-pointer right before the halftime break to cut it to a seven-point deficit for the visitors going into the locker room. 

Westmont started the second 20-minute frame similar to the first, quickly scoring seven points to cut it down to a two-point advantage for the host Sharks just 95 seconds out of the halftime break. The Warriors continued their march, taking a 45-44 lead with 15:40 remaining in regulation following an Amir Davis coast-to-coast rebound and layup to force HPU head coach Jesse Nakanishi to call timeout.  

After the stoppage, Westmont’s Adrian McIntyre scored seven straight points from for the Warriors, increasing the visitors’ lead to four with 13 minutes left to play. They would continue the hot start out of the half, pushing the lead to as much as six before the tides turned in favor of the Sharks with under 10 minutes in regulation. 

Six straight HPU free throws helped the hosts re-take the lead with 9:19 left, but McIntyre responded with three makes from the charity stripe of his own – one coming on an and-one – to keep the Westmont advantage at four. A pair of layups by Winbush and Maj Dusanic kept the Sharks within a score as the teams hit the under-eight-minute media timeout with Westmont leading, 63-61. 

Winbush cashed in on a free throw following the break in the action to cut it to a one-point deficit for HPU and continued to backpack the Sharks’ offense back into the lead, drilling a left-wing triple with 4:05 left to play to give Hawai’i Pacific back the lead, 69-67. The Sharks would not trail again. 

HPU pushed the lead up to seven points with 2:43 remaining after Melo Sanchez drilled a left-wing three. Sanchez finished the night with just seven points on eight total shots from the floor as the Warriors worked to limit opportunities for the Sharks’ star. 

Westmont wouldn’t go quietly, quickly putting up seven points to tie it after Townsell hit a desperation three as the shot clock expired to tie the game at 74 with 15 seconds left in regulation. The Warriors would bump into Winbush following the inbound, sending the guard to the line for his 26th and 27th points of the day and reclaiming the lead for HPU. 

McIntyre tried but couldn’t get a jumper to go on the following possession, seeing the ball knocked out of bounds but remain with Westmont after the miss. On the ensuing inbounds, HPU’s ball denial forced the Warriors (who were out of timeouts) to try and throw the ball off of 7-foot-4 Matthew Van Komen with 3.2 seconds remaining but the carom from Van Komen’s leg redirected the ball into the body of the Westmont inbounded for a turnover. Josh Niusulu was fouled afterwards on inbounds and knocked down a couple free throws to ice the win for Hawai’i Pacific and put the game out of reach, 78-74, in the team’s PacWest opener. 

Westmont, who shot 46% from the floor in the loss, was led by Adrian McIntyre’s 24 points as the guard was a +1 in 36 minutes of action for the Warriors. Jalen Townsell finished with 14 points, a clutch three and a poster dunk for the visitors, who split the first two of three games in Hawai’i, as the Warriors head over to Hilo to take on the Vulcans to close out the Hawai’i trip. 

HPU was led by Winbush’s season-best 27 points (12/15 FT) as the guard continued his fantastic start to the season in his new home. Winbush drew eight fouls throughout the contest, making life difficult on the multitude of defenders that Westmont sent at him. Josh Niusulu finished with 13 points, drilling three of five attempts from long range to help power the Sharks to victory.  

Hawai’i Pacific University basketball is back in action on Monday, December 4 in the Shark Tank as they host Fresno Pacific University, trying to extend their win streak to five straight. The game will be broadcast on Hawai’i Sports Radio Network, along with the women’s basketball game prior, on 95.1 FM, AM 760, and streaming on hawaiisportsradio.com, with both games available on demand where most podcasts are found.

Replay & Gallery: HPU vs Westmont

Replay & Gallery: HPU vs Westmont

Hawaii Pacific vs Westmont | Oct 23, 23

Westmont 25 23 25 25
HPU 16 25 23 20
Jesse Nakanishi Announced as Next HPU Men’s Basketball Head Coach on ‘Sharks Weekly’

Jesse Nakanishi Announced as Next HPU Men’s Basketball Head Coach on ‘Sharks Weekly’

Jesse Nakanishi Announced as Next HPU Men’s Basketball Head Coach on ‘Sharks Weekly’ 


HONOLULU — Jesse Nakanishi was officially named as the next head coach of the Hawai’i Pacific University men’s basketball program Wednesday morning, succeeding longtime coach Darren Vorderbruegge after his retirement in March of 2023.

Nakanishi joined ‘Sharks Weekly’ immediately following the announcement, talking about how thankful he was to the people who conducted the search process to allow him this opportunity and his gratitude toward Vorderbruegge for his assistance in pushing forward the former associate head coach to greater heights.

“It’s a little surreal,” Nakanishi said of his first head coaching job at the college level. “It’s been quite a journey, definitely something I’ve been working towards every step of the way, and I couldn’t be more excited.”

The Kamehameha-Kapālama alum returned to his high school following his graduation from Lewis & Clark and eventually took over the reins of his old program, leading the Warriors to the state tournament seven of the eight years he was the head coach. 

Nakanishi won two state titles in his final three seasons coaching at KS-Kapālama before moving to the college ranks as an assistant coach under Vorderbruegge in 2012.  

“We’re a product of the people we learn from and our experiences and I couldn’t be more thankful for [Coach Vorderbruegge],” the new head coach said of his predecessor. “Next to my parents, the main guy in my life that has just mentored me along the way. I just have to give him a shoutout, big shoes to fill for sure with what he’s done here… Helping guide me, professionally and personally, has meant the world to me.” 

The journey from 2012 has been a long one that has included stops at two other schools, but “Coach Nak” returned to the familiar HPU sidelines last season as an associate head coach, helping display his ability to the school long before the national search began. 

Though he didn’t officially have the job, Nakanishi was confident in his ability and resume while HPU conducted the search, allowing him to get a head start on recruiting. 

“I’ve never been done recruiting in May, but [assistant coach Cam Flabel] and I hit the ground hard and sold our vision to [recruits] and what we have planned, and they bought into it,” Nakanishi explained of the recruiting process. “I want to really thank Dr. Debbie Snell, and even the committee, but Dr. Snell let me continue on as the interim and be able to do all the recruiting with the job still looming.” 

“I believed in myself to get this [head coaching job] and that I would be the best candidate they would see,” he continued. “I told them how confident I was in it as well and they believed in me and I’m thankful for that.” 

The new staff at HPU, comprised of many familiar faces, certainly hit the ground running this offseason while recruiting in the transfer portal. Among the players brought in for HPU include: 

Matt van Komen — 7’4 Center, transferring in from St. Mary’s, 3 years of eligibility remaining 

Tyrease Terrell — 6’4 Guard, graduate transfer from Nicholls State, former team captain, 1 year of eligibility remaining 

Charlie Weber — 6’9 Forward, transferring in from ETSU, 2 years of eligibility remaining 

Nikola Milojevic — 6’6 Forward, from Belgrade, Serbia and played at San Jose City College last season, 2 years of eligibility remaining

Miles Lewis — 6’0 Guard, transferring in from Contra Costa College, 1st-Team All-Conference last season, 2 years of eligibility remaining 

Josh Niusulu — 6’5 Forward, transferring in from Ohlone College in CA, was 1st-Team All-Defense and All-Conference last season, 2 years of eligibility remaining 

With fresh faces mixing with old ones, HPU expects to enter the season much like the staff entered the recruiting part of the offseason: fast, furious and fun. 

“We’re in it to represent the university as well as we can on-and-off the court,” Nakanishi said smiling. “We’re going to be a fun brand to watch… I want HPU to be a known commodity, here in Hawai’i and nationally. We’re going to be fun to watch and [a program that] people are going to be proud of and want to be a part of.”

Gallery: UH-Hilo vs Hawai’i Pacific

Gallery: UH-Hilo vs Hawai’i Pacific

Photo Gallery: UH-Hilo vs. Hawai’i Pacific


The Hawaii Pacific University baseball team closed out their 2023 season with one more battle against in-state rival UH-Hilo at the Patsy Mink Central Oahu Regional Park. 

Making sure all of their seniors got in the game, the Sharks (20-27, 14-17) and Vulcans (25-19, 13-16) fought until the very end with UH-Hilo taking home the win, 5-4.

Hawaii Pacific also celebrated 14 seniors: Cole Kashimoto, Douglas Zolezzi, Nicholas Jio, D.J. Stephens, Turner Jamieson, Markus Ramos, Jake De Fiore, Shane Adams, Edward Lee, Daniel Cortez, Andrew Hauck, Erik Peterson, Jonathan Lucio, and Richard Higa

Sharks Weekly Review: Women’s Tennis & Voice of HPU “Paco Loco” (4/26/23)

Sharks Weekly Review: Women’s Tennis & Voice of HPU “Paco Loco” (4/26/23)

Sharks Weekly Review: Women’s Tennis & Voice of HPU “Paco Loco” (4/26/23) 


HONOLULU — Following some technical difficulties, Sharks Weekly was able to record and catch up with HPU women’s tennis head coach Lauren Conching and senior Marleen Tilgner after their big-time Pac West Tournament wins out in Surprise, Arizona.

Conching and Tilgner discussed their mindset and helped preview their upcoming matches in the NCAA regional round and their desire to challenge for a national championship as a program that holds itself to a higher standard.

Following the opening segment where HPU women’s tennis was so gracious with their time, host Jeffrey Rich welcomed in the voice of HPU Athletics and a mainstay in the announcing scene on Oahu, “Paco Loco.” 

Rich and Paco discuss the legendary voice’s path to where he is now, including his humble beginnings at an HBCU in Pennsylvania, how he got into announcing in the first place and how a semi-random meeting of Joe Frazier helped him get his foot in the door of what he wanted to do the rest of his life.

The show gets a nice vintage “Paco Loco” read of the latest happenings in HPU athletics before continuing a conversation of Paco’s journey to becoming the Employee of the Year in his first year of work with his hometown Philadelphia Eagles, a job that started with him getting screen time on ESPN for his passion and energy when welcoming fans to games.

The show closes out with some NFL football talk ahead of the NFL draft on April 27, as Rich (Bills fan), Paco Loco (Eagles fan) and Paul Brecht (Jets fan) share some laughs and desires of what they want their team to do on Thursday’s event. 

You can catch Sharks Weekly every Wednesday at 9:00 AM HST on HSRN 95.1 FM | AM 760, at hawaiisportsradio.com or in our podcenter following the completion of the show. 

HPU Drops Sunday Rubber Match as Hawai’i-Hilo Bats Explode for 23 Hits

HPU Drops Sunday Rubber Match as Hawai’i-Hilo Bats Explode for 23 Hits

HPU Drops Sunday Rubber Match as Hawai’i-Hilo Bats Explode for 23 Hits


WAIPAHU — When it rains, it pours, and when the Hawai’i-Hilo Vulcans offense got hot on Sunday, it stayed hot. 

The Hawai’i Pacific University baseball team dropped the final game of a 3-game series against cross-island rival Hilo on March 26, falling 13-8 to the Vulcans while giving up 23 hits in the process.

After splitting Saturday’s double header, the Sharks looked to build off the momentum of the previous evening’s 6-5 comeback victory that saw HPU hold the Vulcans offense scoreless for the final five innings of the game.

Hilo’s Ryan Cho started things off with a bang, literally.

The Vulcans first baseman kept a hot weekend at the plate going in the first inning, crushing a Ryan Schuelke offering way over the left field fence to score Mason Cook and give Hilo an early 2-0 lead. 


The Sharks looked to answer right back in the bottom half of the first, as the first three batters reached for HPU.

Hilo starter Eamon Velarde settled down though, getting Richard Higa to strike out swinging before Chase Taylor brought in Nicholas Jio with a sacrifice fly to right field. Velarde would then get Noah Hata to ground out to second to escape the jam with only one run of damage.

A two-out single by Hilo’s Cook got the run right back for the Vulcans in the top of the second as the catcher picked up his second single of the day. Cook, along with Cho, picked up five hits apiece in Sunday’s win.

Alec Yamauchi added another run to the Hilo lead with a home run to left field in the top of the third, and Cho laced a single up the middle in the fourth to bring Brayden Yoshida around to score and make it 5-1, Vulcans.

The Sharks cut it back to two, 5-3, following a Hilo error that allowed both Jio and center fielder D.J. Stephens to cross home in the bottom of the fourth. 

Just like the first game of the doubleheader on Saturday, the Vulcans had an answer for every HPU comeback try.

Kein Iwata picked up his lone RBI of the day with a double in the fifth, then scored the very next batter as Yoshida singled to left. 

Once again, HPU tried to keep it close.

Taylor blasted a long home run to center field in the bottom half of the fifth after Higa led off the inning with a walk. The Sharks continued to threaten after Hata was hit by a pitch and swiped 2nd, but Travis Johnson tapped one back to the mound for the final out of the inning. 

The Vulcans got the runs right back once again, recording three straight hits to start the sixth inning and using a Chris Varljen sac fly to bring home Alec Yamauchi to make it 9-5 Hilo through five and a half innings of play.

A wacky bottom of the sixth saw the Sharks get four straight free passes and use a passed ball to make it 9-7 with runners on second and third and nobody out. 

Higa was caught too far from the bag on Chase Taylor’s lineout to right field, getting doubled up while TJ Smith tagged up to cut the Hilo lead to one. 

Once again, the Vulcans had an answer as Cook picked up another hit with an RBI single up the middle and Blake Tweedt helped him score with a single to right field, giving Hilo much needed breathing room. 

UH-H added two more insurance runs in the top of the ninth, as the 22nd ranked Vulcans looked to close out the visit to O’ahu with a series victory over the Sharks. 

Jake Liberta came in to lock things down for the visitors in the 7th and finished his 2.1 innings strong, striking out the side in the ninth to pick up his eighth save of the season. 

Nick Agacki was credited with the win for Hilo and Schuelke took the loss for Hawai’i Pacific.

The Vulcans (17-7) were led by Cook and Cho, each going 5-6 and combining for 5 RBI in the victory, as Hilo heads to the mainland for a 12-game trip.

Taylor knocked in half of HPU’s runs, registering 4 RBI in Sunday’s loss. The Sharks (10-15) will also head to the mainland for a long road trip of their own, spanning 14 games and five different opponents.