Unless UH-Hilo’s men’s basketball team finishes with an incredible run, the Vulcans will be relegated to a seventh consecutive losing season.
But despite a season defined by disappointment and attrition, all won’t be lost after a pair of spirited victories.
Senior Randan Berinobis wasn’t around to see the first one after getting ejected Thursday night against Fresno Pacific, but he was there in full force Saturday night, nearly compiling a triple-double (11 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists) as UHH avenged an earlier loss to Dominican, rallying for a 68-66 at Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium.
“I’m really proud of the way these guys have fought through adversity, and we have had plenty so far,” coach GE Coleman said in a release. “But guys have stepped and figured out ways to make this work. I am really pleased with their work ethic. No one will outwork us.”
The Vulcans (6-13, 5-7 PacWest) played seven players — that’s basically all they have left — with Devin Johnson leading all scorers with 21 points and 11 boards.
Trailing by as many as nine points in the second half, guard Ryley Callaghan finally got going by hitting a consecutive 3-pointers, and Johnson paved the way for a 7-0 spurt that gave UHH its first lead, 51-50, since early in the game.
Freshman Will Burghardt, fresh off making 7 3-pointers against Fresno Pacific, scored 12 points, and the Vuls held the Penguins to just 32 percent shooting in the second half.
“We really picked up the defensive intensity in the second half,” Coleman said. “Randan and Devin were a big part of that for us inside.”
Dominican (5-16, 4-10) got three looks at the end of the game, but a 3-pointer missed at the buzzer, sending UHH out on the road Tuesday at Hawaii Pacific with a modest yet meaningful two-game winning streak.