By BILL O’REAR
Tribune-Herald sports editor
It’s obvious that if the University of Hawaii at Hilo women’s basketball team wants to play with the top teams in the PacWest Conference, the Vulcans are going to have to play better defense and block out.
On Monday, Grand Canyon University used its size advantage and hustle on the offensive boards on its way to a 71-47 win over the visiting Vulcans in Phoenix, Ariz. It was the second straight loss for UHH to open the PacWest on the road and underlined once again that the Vulcans must keep their much taller opponents off the glass.
“They were bigger than us, but almost everybody in the conference is,” UHH coach David Kaneshiro said. “We’ve just got to do a better job defensively and rebounding the ball. Tonight, Grand Canyon was bigger than we were, but we still did a poor job blocking out. They got a lot of offensive rebounds and that hurt.”
Judy Jones, a 5-foot-9 forward, led the Antelopes (6-2 overall, 1-0 PacWest) with a game-high 19 points and 13 rebounds. Six of Jones’ rebounds came at the offensive end. The hosts outrebounded the Vulcans 45-25, with 16 offensive rebounds.
“They gave a better effort on the boards than we did,” Kaneshiro said. “We can rebound with them, but we’ve got to block out.”
UHH (2-4, 0-2) played well enough in the first half to trail only 32-30 at the intermission. But Kaneshiro felt his squad could have played better.
“I think we can play a lot better,” he said. “I think we played about five minutes of good offense in the first half and our defense was solid. We just didn’t block out. Then in the second half, we missed some open shots and Grand Canyon slowly built on their lead. We just couldn’t stop their momentum.
“Our defense let us down in the second half. They shot over 50 percent from the floor and got stuff in transition as well as in their half-court sets.”
The Antelopes outscored UHH 39-17 in the final half.
Senior guard Jameia McDuffie was the lone Vulcan in double figures, with 12 points. She hit 5 of 8 field goals and 2 of 2 free throws for her point total. Junior Kamie Imai followed with seven points as UHH’s offense sputtered most of the evening. Imai also had a team-high six rebounds and four assists.
Jones was followed in scoring by Maylinn Smith and Jenna Pearson, both with 10 points.
Grand Canyon shot 42 percent (26 of 62) from the field, 28 percent (5 of 18) on 3-pointers and 88 percent (14 of 16) from the free-throw line. UHH made 35 percent (17 of 48) from the floor, 23 percent (3 of 13) on treys and 71 percent (10 of 14) from the line.
The Antelopes also had 11 assists, 13 turnovers, 1 blocked shot and 5 steals compared to the Vuls’ 10, 16, 2 and 2, respectively. Smith led the hosts with five assists.
The Vulcans return home and then travel to play Central Washington University on Dec. 17-18 in Ellensburg, Wash.
At Phoenix, Ariz.
UHH 30 17 — 47
GCU 32 39 — 71