Who says UH-Hilo’s men’s basketball team is short-handed?
Not freshmen Will Burghardt and Cleo Cain on Thursday night.
The reinforcements arrived from above, in the form of a barrage of 3-pointers, a school-record 21 in all as the Vulcans ended a six-game losing streak heading into matchup against Dominican on Saturday night back at Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium.
Of course, there was more bad injury news, seemingly a prerequisite this season. Senior Trey Ingram, UHH’s leading scorer, missed his third consecutive game Thursday and will be out for the rest of the season.
Still, with only nine players in uniform and starter Randan Berinobis lost to a first-half ejection, the Vulcans (5-13, 4-7 Pacific West Conference) looked fully loaded, getting career-highs of 23 points apiece from Burghardt (7 of 10 from 3-point range) and Cain (4 of 5).
“To have two freshmen, who hardly played at the beginning of the year, step in when called upon and score 23 each, was huge for us,” coach GE Coleman said in a release after a 98-85 win against Fresno Pacific.
With six different players hitting 3s – seldom-used Waiakea graduate Maikai Gahan hit his second of the season – UH-Hilo shot a blistering 65.6 percent from beyond the arc, overcoming 20 turnovers against the Sunbirds (5-18, 3-12).
“We won’t win another game with 20 turnovers, of course unless we hit 21 three-pointers,” Coleman joked afterward.
His freshmen guards weren’t the only two players to rise to the occasion.
Senior guard Ryley Callaghan – one of the last men standing from the starting lineup the Vulcans featured in their opener – tallied 21 points and a career-high 11 assists, making 5 of 6 from 3-point range.
Jared Roffler, who didn’t play more than 10 minutes in a game until a loss at Fresno Pacific on Jan. 13, was on the court for 35 quality minutes and contributed eight points, 11 rebounds and six assists, and Anthony Canencia provided a season-high nine.
Talk about all hands on deck.
“It was a much-needed win,” Coleman said. “Both teams really wanted this one and it showed. I am really proud of how we stepped up tonight.”
With five minutes left before halftime, the teams appeared to want this one too much.
According to a release, a scrum in the middle of the key resulted in Berinobis getting ejected for leaving the bench. Fresno Pacific’s Aamondae Coleman also was tossed. That left UHH with just eight total players in uniform, and six in street clothes on the bench.
“You have to just keep getting up every morning and bring your lunch bucket to work,” Coleman said.
That mentality will continue against Dominican (5-15, 4-9), which fell 87-62 to Hawaii Pacific on Thursday night to start a four-game road trip. Jeremiah Gray, a 6-foot-4 senior, led the Penguins with 15 points and is one of the league’s top scorers, averaging more than 19 a contest.
The UHH women (6-8, 4-7) carry a three-game losing streak into their game at 5 p.m. Saturday against Dominican, who handled the Vulcans 86-55 at home Jan. 20.
On Thursday, Allie Navarette was solid again with 25 points and nine rebounds, but Fresno Pacific used a pair of spurts – a 14-0 run in the second quarter then a 16-4 run in the third – to earn a 73-64 victory to remain tied for the sixth and final playoff spot.
Danielle Dacosta added 15 points and seven rebounds and Alyssa Movchan had 11 points and five assists for the Vuls, who were without second-leading scorer Safia Sheikh (illness) for the second consecutive game.
Dominican (14-7, 8-5) will be looking to return to its winning way after sustaining a 76-73 loss Thursday at league-front runner Hawaii Pacific, which has won 13 in a row.
Junior Natalie Diaz finished with 19 points for the Penguins, and she averages a league-best 24.1 points to go along with 8.8 rebounds on the season.