Fitting Farewell: Berinobis scores 30, but Vuls end season with another loss

SHELLY BLUNCK/UH-Hilo Senior Ryley Callaghan scored 11 points Saturday night in his final game in a UH-Hilo uniform.

Randan Berinobis tried his best to rescue the UH-Hilo men’s basketball team in his last game in front of his hometown fans, but it was too hard to drive a bus with four flat tires, caused by culprit Hawaii Pacific.

The 2011 Hilo graduate and undersized 6-foot-3 forward had a monster game. Berinobis scored 33 points on 9 of 21 shooting, grabbed 12 rebounds, and led his team in energy, but it wasn’t enough.

In the second half, the Sharks exposed all of UHH’s warts (stopping dribble-penetration, rebounding and defending the post) in a 97-87 win on Saturday night at Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium.

Eric Wattree and Devin Johnson added 14 points each, and Ryley Callaghan scored 11 points for the Vuls (7-20, 6-14 PacWest), who suffered their seventh straight losing season.

Niksha Federico scored 26 points, and Jonathan Janssen added 18 points for the Sharks (15-13, 10-10), who outscored the Vuls 55-41 in the second half and outrebounded them, 42-32.

It was the last game for UHH seniors Berinobis, Callaghan, Trey Ingram, and Arnold Silva.

The Vuls led 46-42 at halftime behind Berinobis’ 15 points and nonstop energy. He offered the most hustle on the glass, hauled in seven rebounds and defended Sharks who were always taller but never gave an inch.

The first half felt like a fast-paced, back-and-forth Ping pong match.

The game was tied five times in the first 20 minutes. When the teams weren’t driving to the rim, they were smoothly moving the ball for open looks.

For the game, the Vuls shot 40 percent (29 of 72) from the field, including 15 of 43 from 3-point territory, while the Sharks countered at 52 percent (30 of 58), including 7 of 18 from beyond the arc.

The Vuls struggled to guard 6-7 forward Federico, who kept taking defenders to school on post moves. He had an enjoyable first half with 14 points on 5 of 9 shooting.

Fortunately for UHH, the Sharks hit nothing but bricks from 3-point land in first half. They went 2 of 10 from deep, and the Vuls swished three 3-balls from Callaghan and two in a row by Wattree right before the break.

Berinobis showed his range of shots in the first half, hitting a step-back 3, beating Federico off the dribble for a bucket and free-throw conversion, and scoring on an alley-up layup from Callaghan.

Early in the third quarter, 6-9 forward Janssen, who scored four points in the first half, turned into Larry Bird during a 9-2 run. He posted up the smaller Callaghan and scored, beat everyone down the court for a transition layup, drained a 3-ball, and swished a 15-foot jump shot.

That last shot put the Sharks ahead 51-50 with 15:30 remaining.Then Lorenze Gordon-Hayes exposed one of UHH’s flaws — defending dribble-penetration— when he easily shredded UHH’s man defense, which offered no help-side defense, for an easy layup.

After Johnson flushed a dunk, Emil Isovic and Federico buried back-to-back 3s for a 59-52 advantage with under 14 minutes to play.

The Vuls were badly leaking oil at the time, and Berinobis stopped the bleeding with a 3-ball, but old friend Janssen, still playing like Larry Legend, swished another 3-ball in UHH’s face for a 62-55 lead, and that cushion was good enough for the Sharks.