Women’s college basketball: UHH women beat Concordia to end slide
Enough is enough.
The Hawaii Hilo women’s basketball team finally reached that point Saturday when they snapped a six-game losing streak with a determined, exhausting effort that eventually carried them over Concordia-Irvine 76-73 Hilo Civic.
The contest felt like two different games, with 100 points scored in the first half and 56 in the second half when the Vulcans (2-8, 2-5 Pacific West Conference), kept the game close and gave themselves a chance to win with the ball out of bounds at their end with scored 73-73 and 16 seconds left.
Senior Alexa Jacobs got the inbounds pass, took her time with it at the top of the key, then with eight seconds left Pilialoha Kaliawa came out and set a solid screen, Jacobs went left to the basket, put up a contested left-handed shot that went off the glass and in. Kim Schmelz added a free throw and that was it, the streak was over.
“Coach had the faith in me to give me the opportunity and I had the confidence in myself to take the opportunity,” Jacobs said. “We have worked so hard in practice, not just for this game but for the last few, that I feel like we really deserved this, we wanted it bad.”
The Vulcans have been playing everyone close and coming up a basket or two short at the end, and it looked like there might be more of that waiting for them against the Eagles (6-7, 4-3 PWC) who were looking to complete a three-game sweep of the Hawaii schools with a high-scoring offense that averaged 89 points in their first two games in the islands.
Lots of points and a fast-paced approach seemed to be the last thing the Vulcans needed with three players in the regular rotation out with injuries, but at halftime it was 51-42 Concordia and for UHH, averaging 52 points a game, the second half looked like a daunting task.
But with post players Patience Taylor (thumb) and Asia Smith (foot) sidelined along with guard Lauren Hong (concussion), the Vulcans never slowed down.
“We just wanted to keep playing,” said Schmelz, a sophomore who had 15 points to lead UHH in a balanced scoring effort that included 14 from Sydney Mercer, 12 from freshman Sharlei Graham-Bernisto and 11 from junior Amber Vaughn.
“They showed a lot of heart,” UHH coach David Kaneshiro said, “we needed to pick things up on the defensive end in the second half and they were able to do that.”
Kaneshiro said he wanted to contain Concordia’s Sopavy Seng in the second half after she broke loose for six 3-pointers and 6-for-6 from the line in the first half, closing the opening two quarters with 28 points.
“I asked to take her,” Jacobs said, “and they let me do that. It wasn’t by myself, we all jumped in on it, I’m just proud of our team and all my teammates, we did this together.
“It’s not the end of a losing streak, it’s the start of a winning streak,” she said.
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