Women’s basketball: Vulcans push past NAIA foe in opener

  • RICK OGATA photo Mikayla Tablit played 16 minutes Friday night in her UH-Hilo debut and scored three points in the Vulcans' 52-42 victory.

For starters, UH-Hilo’s women’s basketball team was good enough.

In a game of back-and-forth runs Friday night, the Vulcans had the final foray to defeat Multnomah University 52-42 at the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium.

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Allie Navarette led the Vulcans with 13 points and 10 rebounds on opening night, and Kim Schmelz, playing her first game in over two years, had 11 points. Erykah Campbell led the Lions with 12 points and 11 rebounds.

The Lions, an NAIA school from Oregon, fell to 1-2 ahead of Saturday’s 2 p.m. exhibition at Hilo Civic.

Schmelz, who spent two years rehabbing an injured knee, came off the bench in the first quarter and promptly drained a long three-pointer to give the Vulcans a 7-6 lead. A Chyann Gabriel put back at the buzzer gave UHH a 16-15 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Multnomah began the second quarter on a 5-0 run to take a 21-16 lead. The Vulcans would then answer with a 11-0 blitz, capped by a Malia Lee basket to lead 27-21. Navarette scored her first basket of the night with 1:25 left in the quarter to help the Vulcans take a 32-28 lead into the halftime locker room.

Sara Shimizu hit two 3-pointers and had nine points at the half.

Navarette and the Vulcans were hot to start the second half. The 6-foot junior scored inside and then converted four free throws, and with Mandi Kawaha’s basket, it was an 8-0 UHH run (40-28). But the Lions closed the quarter on a 11-0 run to make it 40-37 heading into the final 10 minutes.

Coming out the quarter break, UH Hilo went on another 8-0 run , this time with Schmelz leading the way. The 5-9 guard hit two shots, then made a steal and went coast to coast and converted the lay-in to make the count 48-37 just two minutes into the fourth quarter.

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The Lions didn’t have another run in them, scoring only five points in the entire fourth quarter. The Vulcans sealed the game with just under a minute to play when Kawaha dribbled down the shot clock and then dumped off a pretty pass to Gabriel, who banked it off the glass to account for the 52-42 final.

Neither team shot well from the field, with Multnomah at 22 percent and UH Hilo at 29. UHH forced the Lions into 17 turnovers, and the Vulcans only had eight while holding a 38-34 rebound advantage.

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