It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.
Well, actually, when you start as hot as UH-Hilo’s women’s basketball team did Monday night, finishes don’t matter as much – but more on that in a moment.
As for the finish of the night: Levi Auble scored inside with 42 seconds remaining to complete Biola’s comeback from a 20-point second-half deficit, and the Eagles held on stun UHH men’s team 79-77 at Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium.
When Cleo Cain’s 3-pointer went long as time expired, Biola ran off celebrating to its locker room as the crowd walked silently to the exits after watching UHH (9-9, 7-7 Pacific West Conference) blow its second big lead at home this season. Holy Names came back from an 18-point deficit in December.
“We can sulk, lick our wounds a little bit, but you can’t let it carry over,” coach GE Coleman said. “We have to bounce back after something like this.
“We were making shots, that wasn’t the issue.”
What was an issue, he said, was the Vulcans’ inability to get to the free-throw line. They went 4 of 8, while the Eagles (12-9, 8-7) – a second-year member of the PacWest and not eligible for postseason play – were 13 of 18.
“It was disappointing to say the least,” Coleman said. “That’s just the game. I guess they teach a very good job of not to foul.
“We had our opportunities, and you still had to find a way to win the game.”
Auble was a load inside, scoring 23 points with nine rebounds for Biola. Michael Bagatourian added 19.
Larry Bush scored 22 points with seven rebounds to lead UHH, including a 3-pointer to tie the game 73-73 with 1:58 remaining, and after a jumper by Bagatourian gave Biola back the lead, Kupaa Harrison’s layup with 57 seconds left tied it at 75.
The Vuls, however, couldn’t get stops in the second half – the Eagles shot 20 of 34 from the field in th20 minutes in scoring 50 points.
After Auble’s basket, James Griffin missed a 3-pointer and Bagatourian hit two free throws.
Griffin’s basket made it 79-77 and UHH forced a turnover when Biola threw away its inbounds pass.
That the Vulcans missed a 3-pointer on their final possession was apropos. They lived by the 3-point ball in the first half, going 9 of 18 from long range to lead 48-29 at the break.
UHH finished just 13 of 32 from 3, and the Vuls weren’t able to win the turnover battle — both teams had 12.
Earlier in their final possession, Denhym Brooke was fouled, but UHH wasn’t in the bonus yet.
Griffin scored 17 points with six rebounds and three assists, Cain added 14 and Harrison chipped in 11. Bush made five 3-pointers.
The Vuls’ next game — Friday at home against Academy of Art (7-13, 7-8) — is their biggest of the season as the two battle for the sixth and final berth in the conference tournament.
“We’ll be ready to go,”Coleman said, “but we definitely have to figure out a way to get to the free throw line.”
• As for the UHH women, they hit their first six three-pointers, scored the games first 18 points and held on for a 77-65 win over Biola.
The Vulcans (6-12, 3-11) hit a season-high 11 from behind the arch (11 for 23), getting six 3-pointers, from five different players in the first quarter, leading 18-0 with 4:24 to go.
Allie Navarette finished with a double-double with 23 points and 11 rebounds, hitting 10 of 14 free throw attempts. Alyssa Movchan had 19 points, missing just two shots all night and nailing four three-pointers. Patience Taylor added 12 points.