Emotional day ends with elusive home win over UH-Hilo for Hawai’i Pacific men’s basketball

Emotional day ends with elusive home win over UH-Hilo for Hawai’i Pacific men’s basketball

Emotional day ends with elusive home win over UH-Hilo for Hawai’i Pacific men’s basketball

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED JAN 20, 2024

HONOLULU — It was an emotional Saturday in Mānoa. 

The Hawai’i Pacific University men’s basketball team (10-6, 5-3 PacWest) got back on track with a hard-fought, overtime win over in-state rival UH-Hilo (11-8, 5-5 PacWest), 69-66, picking up the first home win for the Sharks against the Vulcans since moving into the “Shark Tank” on the former campus of St. Francis High School on January 20. 

The game had been pinned for months as a celebration in honor of the memory of former HPU Shark and Punahou alum Kameron Steinhoff, who tragically passed away in May of 2011, with the 12th annual “Kam’s Helmets” game, handing out 150 helmets to local youth to help prevent future accident-related tragedies thanks to generous donations by T&T Tinting, Leavitt, Yamane & Soldner Group and the Hawai’i Bicycling League. In all, over 1,500 helmets have been handed out since 2011 in honor of Kam’s memory because of the Steinhoff Family’s hard work and partnership with HPU men’s basketball. 

The game became heavier for the Sharks earlier in the week when guard Nikola Milojevic had to step away from the team to be with family following the sudden passing of his father, international legend and current assistant with the Golden State Warriors’ Dejan Milojevic. The men’s program held a moment of silence before the game in honor of “Decky” as the team huddled around each other. 

With both sides down a starter (HPU’s Matt Van Komen missed his fifth consecutive game while UH-Hilo was without leading scorer Carlos Ramsey Jr.), it was the Sharks who came out of the gate quickly with the game’s first four points before the Vulcans broke the ice with a Jake Kosakowski three-pointer. Hilo would take its first lead 50 seconds later on a Jarin Edwards’ putback to make it a 5-4 game. 

The teams took turns trading the lead back and forth before HPU’s Tyrease Terrell drained a couple of triples, continuing his recent hot stretch from long range, to give the Sharks a six-point lead at the first half’s under-12-minute media timeout. After the stop in the action, the Vulcans would respond with a 9-2 run to re-take the lead, 19-18, with another Edwards’ layup after UHH guard Drew Yezbak came up with a steal of Maj Dusanic.  

The half ended just as it started, passing the lead between one another as Hilo’s Zoar Nedd got the shooting touch going from long range to help the Vulcans go to the locker rooms with a one-point advantage, 28-27. 

HPU’s Diggy Winbush and Charlie Weber, the defending player of the week in the PacWest, would help keep the Sharks in line with Hilo in the second half as leading scorer Melo Sanchez continued to struggle against the ball denial of the Vulcans by scoring nine of the first 15 points in the second half to knot the game at 42-all with 11:55 remaining in regulation.  

Hawai’i Pacific would re-take the lead two possessions later as Dusanic continued what was an excellent performance for the 6-foot-7 Slovenian forward with a layup through traffic and a block of Hilo’s Charles Elzie III on the other end. 

From there, neither side could get anything larger than a two-possession lead as the teams locked in on each end of the court, knowing the importance of a win for each’s PacWest hopes. The Sharks held a four-point advantage with 3:44 left after Dusanic got a short jumper to go and drew a charge against Hilo forward Kalique Mitchell quickly after, but a never-say-die effort from the Vulcans tied the game at 59 with 1:03 remaining. 

Winbush looked to get into the paint and couldn’t get a jumper to go through some contact before Hilo’s Elzie threw the ball out of bounds with four seconds left to keep the game knotted up heading to an overtime period.  

That’s Diggy Time. 

The junior guard was directly responsible for four instances of either tying the game up or taking the lead, including once-and-for-all with a pair of free throw makes, in the overtime period for the Sharks as HPU snapped an 11-game losing streak against the Vulcans and picked up the first win at home against their state rivals since moving from Moanalua’s gym into the “Shark Tank” ahead of the 2019-20 season. 

UH-Hilo was led by Elzie III and Nedd, each dropping 13 points in the loss for the visitors. The Vulcans will return home to take on Point Loma on Tuesday, January 23. 

Winbush led the way for Hawai’i Pacific, tallying 20 points to go along with five boards and six assists, going 5-of-6 from the charity stripe to help secure the win. Dusanic put in an efficient afternoon’s work with 16 points on 7-of-13 shooting from the floor while Charlie Weber posted his eighth straight double-digit outing with 11 points and four rebounds. 

The Sharks remain home for two more games, including an important matchup with Azusa Pacific as HPU has the first “Field Trip Game” with nearly 400 students from local elementary schools being bussed in for the noon game on Tuesday, January 23. 

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. 

HPU drops Vulcans behind balanced scoring, dominant rebounding effort

HPU drops Vulcans behind balanced scoring, dominant rebounding effort

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. 

Hawai’i opens quest for three-peat with dominant showing in UH-Hilo exhibition

Hawai’i opens quest for three-peat with dominant showing in UH-Hilo exhibition

Hawai’i opens quest for three-peat with dominant showing in UH-Hilo exhibition

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED NOV 1, 2023

HONOLULU — The University of Hawai’i Rainbow Wahine basketball team opened the 2023-24 season with a bang on Wednesday night, not losing a single quarter in the 67-39 exhibition win over rival-island program UH-Hilo at the Stan Sheriff Center. 

UH started off slowly, struggling to finish inside and seeing the Vulcans score the game’s first points before ripping off a 22-3 run to close the opening 10 minutes with the lead, 22-5. In the frame, the ‘Bows knocked down four 3-pointers (two each from guards Olivia Davies and Meilani McBee) and shot 50% from the floor. 

The Rainbow Wahine continued to work into form in the 2nd quarter, trading buckets with UH-Hilo and working through a tighter whistle by the officials on defense. While the score kept UH-Hilo at arms’ length, the Rainbow Wahine still felt as though there was meat left on the bone. 

“The 1st quarter was great on both sides of the ball,” Hawai’i HC Laura Beeman said postgame. “Then, I thought quarters two, three and four really slipped. I thought we played really fun basketball in the 1st quarter… we can’t have slippage in our execution.” 

The ‘Bows entered the locker rooms leading by 20, seeing nine different players record buckets and three new faces making their UH debuts between freshmen Jade Peacock and Vivienne Berrett and Michigan State transfer Brooklyn Rewers.  

The 3rd quarter presented more of the same as UH showed off the impressive depth it boasts at every position, pushing the lead to as much as 29 in the period. Again, it was McBee buoying the offense with six points in the frame, hitting two more triples. 

Hawai’i struggled to score in the final quarter of play, mustering a game-low 11 points in the quarter as Beeman and staff toyed with lineups and gave additional burn to depth pieces getting accustomed to the ‘Bows culture. Even in a quarter that saw UH shoot under 22% from the floor, the Rainbow Wahine’s defense stood strong to hold UH-Hilo to 11 points in the final 10 minutes. 

Hawai’i-Hilo was led by Noelle Sua-Godinet’s nine points and four boards, followed closely behind by Kaile Cruz’s seven points in the loss. The exhibition marked Sua-Godinet’s first game-action since March 2022. The Vulcans kick off the regular season on November 10 at HPU’s “Shark Tank” against #15 Montana State Billings. 

The Rainbow Wahine were led by McBee’s 13 points, hitting four 3-pointers and hauling in six rebounds in the win. Berrett chipped in 11 points, reaching double-digits in her first collegiate action as 10 different ‘Bows scored in the win. 

Hawai’i opens the season on the road next Wednesday, November 8 against #15 Stanford as part of a gauntlet non-conference schedule to prepare the two-time defending Big West tournament champions to defend the titles for another year. 

“[Stanford]’s good, they’re really good. They’re 15th for a reason,” Beeman chuckled when asked what needed to improve in a week’s time. “We have to rebound much, much better and pursue the ball better… Stanford is where they are because they’re skilled, but they also do all of the little things with the communication, the intensity, the follow-through and they play at a level the entire time and I know that’s something we can get to.” 

It’s a tough test. It’s a purposeful one, too. 

“We’re going to go in there and we’re going to be ready to play,” Beeman stated. “We’re not backing down to anybody, we have to be able to go for four quarters.”