The effort was much improved.
The next step for the University of Hawaii at Hilo is to work on the finish.
James Stukes hit the go-ahead jumper with 29 seconds left Wednesday, lifting St. Edward’s past the Vulcans 77-75 in a men’s basketball game at UHH gym.
Kiel Myers missed a late 3-pointer as UHH (1-8) lost its eighth straight game.
The Hilltoppers (10-6) of Austin, Texas, finished off a 4-0 Hawaii road trip.
Vulcans senior forward Michael Melonas posted game highs of 23 points and 10 rebounds and senior guard Mychael Hearn added 16 as the Vulcans battled back in the second half.
Hearn’s 3-pointer capped a 14-3 run to put UHH up by a point with 10:41 left to play.
“That’s a group I can work with,” said coach Jeff Law, whose team was coming off a 34-point loss to Urbana on Friday.
“We just can’t get over the hump.”
Guard Zilijan Jones led St. Edward’s with 20 points while Stukes had 16, putting the Hilltoppers back on top of after Melonas’ basket tied it 75-75 with 1:38 left.
Myers added 13 points and eight rebounds and Hearn also had eight boards, but UHH made only 4 of 20 from 3-point range.
“We kept on settling for too many 3s,” Law said, “even when we weren’t making them.”
Hilltoppers’ leading scorer Shimeek Johnson, a 6-foot-7 forward, scored 13 points but made only 4 of 17 from the floor and 2 of 10 from 3-point range as his team shot 40.8 percent.
The Vuls, who trailed 42-34 at halftime, shot 46 percent and committed 13 fewer turnovers than they did in the lopsided loss last Friday.
Guards CJ Brown (seven assists) and Derek Owens each contributed eight points for UHH, while Melonas scored a season high on 11-of-14 shooting in collecting his third double-double of the year.
UHH has 14 days off to think about this one before returning to the court for a Pacific West Conference game against Notre Dame de Namur on Jan. 3
“Right now we need to find a stronger will to find a way to win,” Law said. “There is still a lot of basketball left to play. I do think better things are coming.
“Don’t give up on us just yet.”
Play was halted in the first half for 10 minutes because of condensation on the court.
St. Edward’s 42 35 — 77
UHH 34 41 —75