By BILL O’REAR
Tribune-Herald sports editor
Kiran Shastri poured in 22 points, including six 3-pointers, and Kuany Kuany had 21 points to lift Chaminade University to an 86-83 win over the University of Hawaii at Hilo on Friday night.
About 250 fans watched the fast-paced Pacific West Conference basketball game at the UHH Gym.
Kiran, a 6-foot-6 freshman from Orinda, Calif., sank 6 of 10 field goals and 6 of 8 treys to lead the Silverswords (12-8 overall, 9-3 PacWest). But it was his deadly stroke in the second half that gave Chaminade some breathing room to help hold off the hustling Vulcans (3-15, 0-12).
Kiran drained three treys during a four-minute stretch midway through the second half to give the Silverswords a 62-52 advantage. But UHH junior Joey Rodriguez hit a 3-pointer and scored on a layup off a steal to slash the cushion to 62-57 with 8:46 remaining.
Chaminade stretched the lead 67-59 on a Kuany layup but UHH answered with a trey from Rodriguez to make it 67-62 at the 7:07 mark. Then, after Kiran sank two free throws on the Silverswords’ next possession, Vulcan senior Lucas Swanson hit a trey to cut the margin to 69-65 at 6:37.
Both teams continued to battle and UHH finally tied the contest at 76-76 on a Derek Owens’ free throw with 3:20 left.
Owens then played outstanding defense on Kuany, a 6-7 freshman point guard, and stole the ball at 3:02. But the the Vulcans missed an open trey and Kiran drained his biggest 3-pointer of the night at the 2:41 mark, giving the visitors a 79-76 advantage.
Both teams then exchanged turnovers before Swanson, a steady senior forward, scored on a tough reverse layup to pull UHH to within 79-78 at 1:56.
Kuany answered with a driving layup to extend the Silversword lead to 82-78. But these Vulcans, who never seem to quit, got a 16-foot jumper from junior Darnell Williams to make it 82-80 with 1:22 remaining.
The Vulcans then dug deep on defense and Chaminade turned the ball over at the :56 mark. UHH coach G.E. Coleman called time out and his team then ran a set play, with Owens missing a wide-open trey at :26.
The Vulcans fouled Tyree Harrison at :23 and he made the second of two free throws, giving the Silverswords an 83-80 advantage.
Rodriguez then scored on a driving layup to cut the Chaminade lead to 83-82 at :07. The Vulcans fouled Derric Braziel on the inbounds pass and the 6-5 junior made both free throws to make it 85-82.
The Silverswords decided not to chance giving up a 3-pointer and fouled UHH junior Yevgeniy Dyachenko in the backcourt with :04 left. Dyachenko made his first free throw to slice the Chaminade lead to 85-83. He then quickly banged his second shot off the rim and in a battle for the ball underneath the basket, it appeared the ball went off a Silversword. However, the refs awarded the ball to the visitors and on a long pass downcourt, Owens fouled Kuany at 1.4 seconds. He made the second of two free throws and Rodriguez’s 50-footer at the buzzer fell short.
“I can’t ask anything more from my players,” said Coleman, after losing another close PacWest contest.
“Physically, they play hard and compete on every play. They play well together. Derek (Owens) and Lucas (Swanson) provide great senior leadership.
“We’re trying to build a culture here on competing hard every day in practice and in the games. It’s going to take some time to get where we want to be, but these guys go out and compete every game.”
Chaminade outrebounded UHH 50-34, with the athletic Kuany leading the way with 12. Junior Dominique Campbell led the Vulcans with seven rebounds and five blocked shots before fouling out in the second half.
“We’re a different team without Dom,” Coleman said. “He makes so many good things happen for us on defense. He changes shots and gets his hand on a lot of balls. When he got into foul trouble tonight, that hurt us. But he’s a guy who is very important in our program and what he brings to the team.”
Harrison also reached double figures for the Silverswords, with 11 points.
Rodriguez led the Vulcans with 23 points. He hit 10 of 17 field goals, including 2 of 4 treys, and 1 of 2 free throws for game-high honors.
Williams had 16 points — going 7 of 13 from the floor and 2 of 3 from the line. Swanson and Owens each chipped in with 13 points.
Chaminade shot 47 percent (30 of 64) from the field, 45 percent (9 of 20) on 3-pointers and 63 percent (17 of 27) from the free-throw line.
UHH hit 46 percent (32 of 69) from the floor, 37 percent (9 of 24) on treys and 53 percent (10 of 19) from the line.
The Silverswords also had 9 assists, 17 turnovers, 2 blocked shots and 5 steals compared to the Vulcans’ 16, 8, 7 and 9, respectively. Rodriguez and Owens each had three steals, and Williams two.
In the women’s game, Chaminade beat the Lady Vulcans 74-57.
The UHH teams next hit the road for conference games at Dixie State (Feb. 13), Cal Baptist (Feb. 15) and Azusa Pacific University (Feb. 17) before closing out the regular season with home games against Holy Names (Feb. 20), Notre Dame de Namur (Feb. 24), Fresno Pacific (Feb. 27) and Hawaii Pacific (March 1).
The top six teams in the final regular-season standings earn berths in the PacWest men’s and women’s tournaments, in March at Point Loma Nazarene in San Diego, Calif.
At UHH Gym
Chaminade 39 47 — 86
UH-Hilo 42 41 — 83