By MATT GERHART
Tribune-Herald sports writer
From its 3-point shooting barrage to its athletic version of the Princeton offense to its matchup zone defense, Maryville didn’t disappoint.
The Saints were exactly who the University of Hawaii at Hilo thought they were. Stopping them was another matter entirely.
Guard Gerald Shaw scored 13 of his game-high 18 points in the second half Monday as Maryville pulled away from the Vulcans 78-70 on opening night at the Naniloa Volcanoes Resort Thanksgiving Tournament at UHH Gym.
“We knew what was coming. It wasn’t like it was a surprise,” UHH coach Jeff Law said. “We just did not handle it that well.”
Guards Asa Toney and Armon Provo scored 17 and 14 points, respectively, and Melvin Turner hit a big 3-pointer to put the Saints (3-0) ahead for good with 5:31 to play.
Senior Kiel Myers scored 17 points and senior CJ Brown added 14 as the Vulcans (1-2) lost their home opener.
The Saints of St. Louis successfully attacked the Vulcans in different ways in each half and shot 51.9 percent for the game. After thriving from behind the arc (8 of 15) in the first half, Maryville used backdoor cuts and flare picks — a style Princeton made famous — to catch UHH flat-footed and pick up easy layups after the break.
“When they ran their offense they were running hard and running fast,” Law said. “We got caught. We watched the ball and they beat us backdoor. Maybe because the speed that they were going.
“Maybe we needed to do a week of (backdoor defense) in practice. I’m more upset about the backdoors then the 3s.”
Maryville took its biggest lead, 62-52, on a pair of Toney free throws midway through the second half, but the Vuls stormed back behind Myers.
The 6-foot-6 forward scored eight straight points for UHH, following a conventional three-point play with a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to one. Brandon James hit a jumper to give the Vuls their first lead since early in the first half, but Turner answered with the Saints’ only 3 of the second half.
“Kiel gave us a great effort,” Law said. “I thought there were times he was open and we didn’t get him the ball.”
Mychael Hearn (nine points) twice made baskets to keep the deficit at two. UHH had a chance to tie or take the lead in the final minute, but Provo came up with a steal and Shaw’s jumper put Maryville up 74-70 with 41 seconds to play. The Saints iced the game at the free-throw line, where they shot 83.3 percent.
The Saints made six of their first seven 3-pointers — two apiece by Toney and Provo — to open up an early eight-point lead. Paul Bautasa made three 3-pointers to score all nine of his points in the first half as UHH cut the lead to two by the break.
Myles Jarrett scored nine points and he and Shaw each grabbed six rebounds as the Saints owned a 30-22 advantage on the glass.
Lucas Swanson and Thomas each scored eight points each for UHH, which shot 47.9 percent but couldn’t take advantage of its inside game. Forward Michael Melonas, 6-6 and 257 pounds, took just four shots and scored five points.
“I thought he would be able to come out on top (inside), but we didn’t get him the ball,” Law said. “There zone crushed down on him. He wasn’t able to get any kind of flow going.
“We let their matchup zone effect us. We didn’t move well enough without the ball to get anything else done.”
Maryville returns to UHH Gym at 5 p.m. today to take on Montana State-Billings (2-1), with the Vuls facing Western New Mexico (0-3) at 7:30 p.m.
Montana State-Billings 67, Western New Mexico 61: Jarrell Crayton scored 19 points as the Yellowjackets closed the game on a 12-5 run.
Juan Suarez and Brelan Berry both finished with 13 points for the Mustangs.