A fast start couldn’t save the University of Hawaii at Hilo from a first-round exit at the Pacific West Conference women’s basketball tournament.
Morganne Comstock dominated inside with 23 points and 15 rebounds Thursday as Hawaii Pacific pulled away to oust the Vulcans 79-62 in San Diego.
UHH (9-16) lost to the Sea Warriors (18-9) for the second time in five days, getting 19 points from junior guard Kirstie Williams. In her last game in a Vulcans uniform, Waiakea graduate Kamie Imai scored 14 points with 10 rebounds.
Jordan Kealoha had the hot hand early, hitting back-to-back 3-pointers to stake sixth-seeded UHH to a 10-1 lead.
The Vulcans took their last lead, 21-20, on Danielle Kooyman’s layup with 6:06 remaining in the first half. The Sea Warriors went on an 8-0 run and led by six at halftime.
Just as in a 78-61 win in Hilo last Saturday, HPU asserted itself early in the second half Thursday.
Lorren Gurrola made two 3-pointers sandwiched around Ieva Nagy’s trey as HPU quickly grabbed control by scoring the first 10 points to go ahead 44-28.
UHH never got the deficit below 13 the rest of the way.
“We were in good shape at the half, but they made some 3s and that sort of made the difference,” UHH coach David Kaneshiro said.
Hawaii Pacific will play No. 2 California Baptist today in the semifinals of the six-team tournament.
Syke Savina scored 14 points for the Sea Warriors, and Gurrola added 12. Comstock made 7 of 13 from the field and 9 of 10 from the free-throw line as HPU shot 49. 1 percent.
The Vulcans shot just 38.7 percent and were outrebounded 38-31.
“We had some good looks but just didn’t knock them down,” Kaneshiro said.
Kealoha finished with nine points.
Hawaii Pacific enjoyed a big advantage at the free-throw line, making 20 of 24.
The PacWest announced earlier in the day that Imai, UHH’s only senior, made second-team all-league, averaging 11.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game.
“That’s quite an honor,” Kaneshiro said. “Look at some of those names on the second team. If they played the first team, I think they’d win at least half the time.”
Pacific West Conference tournament
At San Diego
No. 3 Hawaii Pacific 79, No. 3 UHH 62
No. 4 Dixie State 99, No. 5 Dominican 86, OT
No. 6 Hawaii Pacific 71, No. 3 Dixie State 65
No. 5 Chaminade 90, No. 4 BYU-Hawaii 85