It’s a problem the University of Hawaii at Hilo hasn’t faced a lot recently, and it’s one first-year coach GE Coleman gladly will take again.
The Vulcans looked a little rusty on the ins and outs of closing out victory Thursday night, but they hung on for an 83-75 victory against Holy Names at UHH Gym, ending a 17-game losing streak that spanned nearly three months.
“Relief more than anything,” Coleman said of his first Pacific West Conference victory. “We need to work on taking care of a lead.
“Feels a lot better than losing.”
That was the only feeling UHH had known since a Nov. 26 victory against Tiffin at home. The Vulcans have a chance to finish with a little momentum with three home games left on the schedule. Notre Dame de Namur visits at 7:30 p.m. Monday.
“Hopefully, we can build toward next year and get one or two more (wins) while we’re here,” Coleman said. “We’re not done yet. Let’s end as best we can.
“The focus is on the big picture; piece by piece. I just want to keep the vision.”
But Thursday night belonged to the seniors — not to mention the shooters.
For all of the off-shooting efforts the Vulcans (4-19, 1-16) have suffered through this season, they almost made up for it in one game against the Hawks (5-20, 4-13).
Senior Brandon Thomas went 8 of 11 from the floor and led five scorers in double figures with 18 points and nine rebounds as UHH shot 63.3 percent from the floor, including 6 of 10 from 3-point range.
“Usually if you combine two games, we’d be around 63 percent,” Coleman said.
“Brandon has been a man of late. He’s been playing well and the way we expect him to play. When he has energy and gets off well, he tends to play well.”
Just about everyone started strong for Vulcans, who shot a blistering 71.4 percent (20 of 28) in the first half. Senior Derek Owens gave UHH its first double-digit lead, 37-27, with 8:06 remaining in the first half. It kept that lead going to the break.
Senior Darnell Williams (7 of 12) finished with 16 points, Owens (4 of 6) tallied 14, and juniors Joey Rodriguez and Yevgeniy Dyachenko (4 for 4) each added 10. Lucas Swanson (4 of 7), another senior, had eight.
“I’m happy for our players, especially seniors,” Coleman said. “They stuck with it when they could have folded up.”
The Hawks worked the deficit down to four in the opening seven minutes of the second half, but Thomas scored six straight points to get the lead back to 10.
Carl Dorn scored 21 points for the Holy Names, which shot 46.6 percent.
Holy Names 36 39 — 75
UHH 46 37 —83