HPU uses defense, paint dominance on Senior Night to down Chaminade

HPU uses defense, paint dominance on Senior Night to down Chaminade

HPU 1st-year head coach Jesse Nakanishi flashes a double thumbs-up to the home crowd following the Sharks’ 77-72 victory on Senior Night over Chaminade. | Photo Credit: Michael Lasquero, HSRN

HPU uses defense, paint dominance on Senior Night to down Chaminade

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED FEB 29, 2024

HONOLULU – Alright, we know where we are dancing. 

The Hawai’i Pacific University men’s basketball team finished the 2023-24 home schedule flying high, taking down island rival Chaminade on Senior Night with a 77-72 victory as forward Maj Dusanic led the Sharks in front of a packed “Shark Tank” with 18 points on 9-of-10 shooting. The victory clinched a top-three seeding for first-year head coach Jesse Nakanishi’s squad in the PacWest Tournament as HPU returns to postseason play for the first time since the 2016-17 season. 

Before tip-off, the Sharks (18-9, 13-6 PacWest) would honor the only graduating senior in guard Tyrease Terrell – a transfer from Nicholls College and a Slidell, Louisiana-native that joined the program this past offseason in hopes of helping HPU turn around their recent luck on the men’s side. The 6-foot-3 graduate student has dealt with various adversities throughout his single year in the program – including missing playing in his own Senior Night due to a head injury – but always did it with a smile on his face. He was surprised with a video message from his close friends and family along with the Noelani students he has mentored and worked with in the “Shark Bite Mentorship Program” this year on O’ahu. 

Class A7 at the school signed a ball and made a poster in support of the guard’s big night and recorded a “thank you” video for the class favorite that was tear-provoking. 

Much like the women’s game from just before, Chaminade looked as though they would play spoiler of the Sharks’ celebration of Terrell – the lone graduating member of the HPU men’s roster – as the visitors opened an early 5-point lead over the Sharks after Scott Ator’s finish inside five minutes into the action. 

The Silverswords continued the early attack as sophomore standout Ross Reeves got in on the fun with five points in under 40 seconds to put CUH ahead by eight with 13:05 remaining in the first half, 17-9. HPU settled in with a pair of Dusanic finishes under the rim before Jacob Kimura’s first 3-point make of the season brought the Sharks within two just over 11 minutes before halftime. 

Charlie Weber followed it up 66 seconds later with a triple of his own to push the hosts ahead by one before getting fouled on another 3-point try and knocking in all three freebies. Matt Van Komen got on the board for the first time a minute after, giving HPU a six-point advantage with 8:02 to play in the half. 

Dusanic added two more buckets in the following minutes, helping HPU maintain the slim lead before some late-clock chaos struck. Turnovers, cold-shooting and Chaminade’s Reeves and Isaac Amaral-Artharee catching fire with a 12-5 run to end the half sent the visitors into the locker room leading by one, 40-39. 

“We came out of the gates slow,” Nakanishi said of his team’s first half performance. “We’re one of the better defensive teams [in the PacWest conference] and we gave up 40 in the 1st half, so a little slow but at least we scored [well in the 1st half].” 

Much like their counterparts before them, HPU quickly opened the 2nd half with some hot long-range shooting as Melo Sanchez drilled a triple before Diggy Winbush got loose for eight consecutive Sharks points (2 3PTM) to push HPU back in front, 50-46. After Amaral-Artharee and Van Komen traded 2-for-2 trips to the charity stripe, Winbush added another jumper to give Hawai’i Pacific a six-point advantage just under seven minutes into the second half. 

Back-to-back 3-pointers from Chaminade’s Kelton Samore pulled the Silverswords back within two, but back-to-back dunks (including an alley-oop) from the 7-foot-4 Van Komen gave the momentum right back to the Sharks. 

Each side continued trading baskets until Wyatt Lowell’s three with 8:09 to play gave the lead back to Chaminade, 63-62. Another HPU dunk, this time by Dusanic, pushed the Sharks back ahead momentarily until Jessiya Villa got a close-range shot to drop on the next possession for CUH. 

After a 30-second timeout from Nakanishi and HPU, the Sharks got another immediate boost in the arm with 7:08 left as Kimura drained a left-corner three – his second 3-point make of the season – putting the hosts in front for good. 

Dusanic provided some breathing room with another set of back-to-back scores for the team before Lowell brought Chaminade within three once again with 4:41 to play. Van Komen layed in another close-range try and Dusanic scored his 17th and 18th points of the night on the next possession to put the Sharks back up by seven with three and a half minutes left in regulation. 

“We really tried to make them guard more than one ball screen, more than one action and that’s where teams often lose guys like [Van Komen and Dusanic] a bit,” Nakanishi said of the 2nd half dominance in the paint. 

HPU, the top statistical defense in the PacWest going into the night according to points per game allowed, flexed that defensive might as they held Chaminade to four points over the final 3:37 to close out the win on Senior Night, 77-72. 

Chaminade was led by Wyatt Lowell’s 18 points as the senior forward went 3-of-8 from distance in the loss. Ross Reeves finished with 15 points, being held to just two after halftime as the Sharks keyed in on the standout sophomore. Isaac Amaral-Artharee ended his Chaminade Silverswords career with a 10-point outing, bringing his career total to 1,732 points and placing him second all-time in program scoring history. 

Hawai’i Pacific’s Maj Dusanic paced the Sharks with 18 points and 11 rebounds, tallying his third double-double of the season as the forward shot 9-of-10 from the floor. Diggy Winbush added 17 points while tying a season-best seven assists for HPU while Melo Sanchez and Matt Van Komen each chipped in 12 points in the victory. 

The loss ends an injury-riddled season for the Chaminade Silverswords, who finished the year at 10-18 overall and just 6-14 in PacWest play. Junior guard and third-leading scorer Jamir Thomas missed the final eight games of the season for Chaminade after tallying 11.6 points per game across 20 contests. 

“It felt good to get the win but not our best performance,” Nakanishi gave as an evaluation of the night. “[Chaminade]’s a tough team. They’ve got playmakers and they’ve got shot makers.” 

Hawai’i Pacific still has one more regular season game to play, visiting the University of Hawai’i-Hilo on Saturday before preparing for a long-awaited return to the conference tournament. The Sharks will look for a season sweep over UH-Hilo, who has also clinched a spot in next week’s PacWest tournament and is battling with Biola for the rights to the fourth seed over the fifth seed. 

HPU locked themselves into the third seed ahead of next week’s PacWest Tournament in San Diego, California with the win, regardless of Saturday’s result against the University of Hawai’i-Hilo.  

“I’m very proud of our guys,” Nakanishi said of clinching the PacWest’s three-seed. “It does mean a lot that we can get in the conference tournament and not just squeeze in there … we fell short of winning a regular-season championship, but we’ve got as good chance as anybody to go win it in the [PacWest] tournament.” 

Silverswords holds off rival Sharks in thrilling finish, 71-68

Silverswords holds off rival Sharks in thrilling finish, 71-68

 

Silverswords holds off rival Sharks in thrilling finish, 71-68

BY MICHAEL LASQUERO | HSRN
PUBLISHED JAN 19, 2024

HONOLULU — This one came down to the wire.

Ross Reeves scored 20 — including the final two points with under seven seconds to play — as the Chaminade men’s basketball team outlasted visiting Hawai’i Pacific, 71-68, before a crowd of 236 Thursday night at McCabe Gymnasium.

The Silverswords snapped a three-game losing streak with the victory as they improved to 7-13 overall and 3-9 in PacWest play.

The Sharks (9-6, 4-3) saw four players score in double figures with Maj Dusanic leading the way with 16 points.

Dominique Winbush was the last HPU player to reach the double-digit mark, which came on a triple to make it a 69-68 game with under 40 seconds to play in regulation. His potential game-tying 3-pointer was wide left off the mark as the fourth quarter buzzer sounded.

PHOTOS BY MICHAEL LASQUERO

Family ties foes together ahead of Thursday PacWest “Battle of the H-1”

Family ties foes together ahead of Thursday PacWest “Battle of the H-1”

Family ties foes together ahead of Thursday PacWest “Battle of the H-1

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED JAN 18, 2024

HONOLULU – When the ball is tipped Thursday evening inside McCabe Gymnasium for the first of two matchups between Hawai’i Pacific and Chaminade this season, both programs will be vying for a hand up on the other in the first bragging rights matchup of 2024. 

The Division II rivals have played 58 times since 2003 but Thursday’s matchup will be the first time pitting a pair of brothers from the Ng family against each other. 

In all, there are five Ng children. The oldest of all is KJ, followed by 23-year-old Kam, then 21-year-old Kordel. The youngest son, Karter, rounds out the boys and the lone daughter, Kalysa, brings up the caboose on the Ng train. 

Only two of the Ng kids currently suit up for Hawai’i colleges on the hardwood. 

Kameron Ng, Chaminade’s redshirt junior guard, transferred into the Silverswords’ program and redshirted last season after starting his career at the University of Hawai’i-Mānoa. He spent two years at his home island’s Division I school before a detour to the Big Island for a season with the Vulcans at UH-Hilo. He was one of the more decorated hoopers in the state of Hawai’i coming out of high school, winning multiple HHSAA Division II titles in his time at Saint Francis High School while being named the Gatorade State Player of the Year in back-to-back years to close out his prep career. 

In his third transfer, Kam finally feels most at home. 

“[Chaminade] lets me be myself [even more] than my prior stops, and that’s not to say anything bad about the other two schools. I just [feel like I] can be myself, my personality, how I play, I feel like they let me be myself and I really appreciate that for sure,” Ng said. 

Younger brother Kordel, a junior at HPU, has not had to make as many moves as his older brother and did not receive as much national attention but certainly is a certified hooper himself. After three years competing for St. Francis, Kordel made his only Hawai’i school move up into the hills of Kāpalama to play with a friend for Kamehameha for his senior season. He took a prep season in Arizona following his senior year and returned home to compete for Hawaii Pacific after a brief stay on the mainland. 

For both brothers, staying in Hawai’i to continue their basketball careers and academic journeys was important. 

“I wanted to be home and play in front of my family,” Kordel Ng said during a phone interview. “The mainland is a lot different from Hawai’i and I just really like the island vibes so that was big for me.” 

After finishing his high school stay with a bang, older brother Kam had a few options to go to the mainland for college but chose to forgo those opportunities to stay home and play for the state’s school. 

“I took a couple visits [to mainland schools] but nothing really felt comfortable, felt like home like Hawai’i does,” the second-oldest of the five Ng children shared. “When it came down to it, I felt like playing in front of friends and family and being able to go home whenever I want to? [Those were] big reasons for staying home.” 

Both quickly saw the benefits of playing in their home state, allowing friends and family to watch as their stories continued to be written. For Kam, he made the move after two seasons with UH to head to the Big Island, suiting up for the Vulcans of UH-Hilo for the 2021-22 season and remaining within the Hawaiian Islands as he worked with a fresh start. 

At that same time, Kordel had just committed to HPU and would be on the basketball team for the upcoming season – his first at the college level. The two brothers, both growing up playing together and for the same teams, would become enemies between the lines for the first time with both colleges holding membership in the PacWest Conference and promising a pair of matchups between the programs. 

Both of those rounds went to Hilo. The first game saw the Ng brothers both come off the bench, neither playing more than 16 minutes as the Vulcans cruised to a double-digit win. The second meeting, however, had a bit more on the line with both brothers being inserted into the starting lineup. 

“Going into the game we both knew we were going to start so there was a little talking before the game,” Kameron chuckled as he reminisced. 

“There was a lot of friendly competition… plus [when we both started] it was at the old Saint Francis gym, so it was good fun,” Kordel recalled. 

The former St. Francis standouts, returning to the old stomping grounds, both wanted that win a bit extra. 

“It was kind of joking, talking back-and-forth. When it got to the game, I dapped him up, I hugged him and right after that it was that he was my enemy,” Kameron said of the games. 

Two years later, the time has come for a new entry into that friendly family feud. 

After a year and change away from the court dealing with transfer rules and injury, Kameron made his return for Chaminade on December 12 and has played in nine straight games since to give him the needed warmup to knock off the rust ahead of the Silverswords’ matchup against HPU on Thursday. 

He was forced to watch from the bench last season as the programs split the annual pair of matchups and brother Kordel was forced to wait another year before potentially getting a chance at revenge and to pick up his first win in the Ng Series that favors Kam. 

While there’s excitement in the two different players matching up for the third time in their college careers, it’s hard not to see the connections that remain between the brothers. 

Each has kept a social media handle of @Kamfromross or @Kordelfromross for almost as long as either can remember. For them, it serves as a childhood joke with friends about where a lot of their wardrobe was from but also a reminder of how they started as they continue their journey. 

The similarities don’t stop there. Each of the guards dons the number 50, honoring the state of Hawai’i wherever they go. While Kordel has never switched his number, Kam was the one that came up with the idea. 

“When I was at UH-Mānoa, I wore #50, so I started it,” Kam laughed telling HSRN. “Before I went into college, I told myself I was going to wear #50 wherever I went just to represent Hawai’i. I’m Hawaiian, Hawaiian-blood, so I like to represent Hawai’i as much as possible… I think Kordel being a good little brother, he understood that.” 

Kordel admitted as much, allowing that the inspiration to wear #50 in college came from his brother after his high school number (#3) was taken when he got to HPU. To him, pride in representing both his home and his family was everything – from college choice to jersey number. 

On the court, the actual skills of the sport between brothers can be divided amongst the pair. Surprisingly enough, each agrees that while Kam has a slight edge in shooting, passing, and ball-handling, it is little brother Kordel that is the lockdown defender and better athlete among the two. 

“He’s not far off in most of the categories from me,” said Kam during a full analysis. “Every summer we’re working out together so I would be a bad older brother if I was saying I was way better than him… I’ll give him athleticism and defense; I’ll give him those two… He’s actually an elite playmaker.” 

When asked on his end, Kordel, with a big grin, agrees only to add: “Athletically-wise, my worst day is way better than his best day.” 

Both will get the chance to show the other how right they are on Thursday as Chaminade hosts Hawai’i Pacific in a crucial PacWest mid-season matchup. While both want to show a little extra in a matchup that is sure to have family in the building, both are certainly more focused on securing a win for their squad. 

“Whether it’s me and him going at it or if our teams are going at it, I just want it to be a competitive game,” Kameron said about the upcoming matchup against HPU. “When we’re out there at the same time, I’m going to go at him. I’m not going to go easy on him and I don’t expect him to take it easy on me.” 

“Oh, and I hope to come out with the win, that’s the main thing,” he added to close. 

One question remains then: who the heck do mom and dad root for? 

Of course, the middle child had the answer. 

“For my parents, it’s pretty easy,” Kordel joked leading up to the game. “I’m their favorite so easily they’re going to pick HPU. They’re big Sharks fans.” 

You can listen to Hawai’i Pacific @ Chaminade men’s basketball matchup that tips off around 7:30 p.m. HT on Thursday, January 18 on Hawaii Sports Radio Network, 95.1 FM / AM 760 or streaming on hawaiisportsradio.com – also available in podcast form following the conclusion of the game where most podcasts can be found.