By KEVIN JAKAHI
Tribune-Herald sports writer
At the start of the second half, the University of Hawaii at Hilo women’s basketball team turned into the “Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight,” missing its first 10 shots.
Unlike the 1971 comedy, a movie based on mob figure Joey Gallo, there was nothing funny about the Vulcans dropping a 69-62 decision to Cal Baptist on Wednesday before 152 fans at UHH Gym.
It’s not as if the Vulcans took what coaches often call ill-advised shots, most of the attempts were high-percentage looks, but the ball kept clanking off the front of the rim against the Lancers in a Pacific West Conference matchup.
Hayley Reynolds was quite productive with 12 points on 6 of 11 shooting, while Jordan Kealahoa had 10 points but on 3 of 8 shooting for the Vulcans (3-15 overall, 3-9 PacWest), who have lost four in a row. Still, UHH is fifth in the six-team playoff race.
Kamille Diaz scored 20 points on 7 of 15 shooting, including going 4 of 8 on 3-pointers, while Megan Brown added 14 points and Erin Asher had 12 points for the Lancers (9-9, 7-5).
UHH started the second half down 38-31, but after miss after miss Cal Baptist slowly padded their cushion to 43-31 before CC Rode broke the home team’s scoring drought.
The junior guard drove to the basket, missed her shot and was fouled. Rode made both free throws and the Lancers were ahead 43-33 with 15:03 remaining.
The Lancers missed as much as the Vulcans in the second half — UHH shot 34 percent (12 of 35) and Cal Baptist was at 34 percent (9 of 26) — but spaced out their misses, and eventually gained a 14-point lead.
Then the Vulcans rallied twice to chop the deficit to five points, at 55-50 with 6:22 left after Kami Imai dribble-penetrated and dished to Whitney Edens, who sank her shot, and 65-60 with 41.7 seconds to go after Imai buried two free throws.
Right before Imai’s shots, the Vulcans scored twice off turnovers: Jordan Kealoha got a steal and dropped in a layup then another giveaway led to Kirstie Williams’ 3-pointer.
To fast-forward to play with under a minute left, Asher was fouled after Imai’s free throws. She missed the front end of a one-and-one. There was 40.6 seconds on the clock.
Imai rebounded, raced downcourt and put up a soft layup. But the home team’s rim was unfriendly. It was a broken-record theme: good shot, but no basket when the ball rolled out.
Then Brown was fouled. The Lancers were in the double bonus, and she sank both free throws. It was 67-60 with 30.6 seconds and the visitors survived their own bout of wobbly legs.
Of all the Vuls, Imai had the toughest night. She went 2 of 16 from the field and had six points. But at least, she was 2 of 2 on free throws and grabbed a team-high nine rebounds.
The Lancers cleaned the glass much better. They had three players in double figures: Elise Shelton with 12 rebounds, and Brown and Olivia Weber with 11 and 10 boards, respectively.
The Vulcans converted 35 percent (24 of 69) for the game; Cal Baptist had its own shooting woes at 39 percent (22 of 57). And free throws made a big difference. The Lancers made 19 of 27 free throws; UHH was 7 of 10 from the line.
Despite that lopsided stat, UHH coach David Kaneshiro appreciated his team’s spirited second-half fight, regardless of a clank-a-thon-shooting streak.
“We came out cold in the second half and took some good shots, but sometimes they don’t go down,” he said. “But I’m proud of our comeback. We had a lot of people contributing.”
Cal Baptist 38 31 — 69
UHH 31 31 — 62
Cal Baptist men 90, UHH 77: After a hot start, the Vulcans cooled off in the second half and remained winless in the PacWest.
The first-place Lancers (17-1, 11-1) used a 17-2 run during the opening eight minutes of the second half to take a 10-point lead.
The Vulcans (3-15, 0-12) led by three at the break on the strength of 54.2 percent shooting, but they made only 9 of 30 field-goal attempts in the second half. Joey Rodriguez provided a spark with 20 points, including 10 of 15 from the free-throw line, and Lucas Swanson and Derek Owens had 14 apiece.
Ryan Berg finished with 23 points and made four 3-pointers for Cal Baptist, which shot 53.1 percent and outrebounded UHH 42-26. Eric Hunt was 7 of 11 from the field for 18 points.
Brandon Thomas’ layup pulled the Vulcans to within 71-68 with 6:52 left in the game, but Kevin Crabb answered with a dunk and the Lancers made 9 of 10 from the line to seal the victory.
Cal Baptist 47 43—90
UHH 50 27 —77