Men’s basketball: Vuls aren’t sharp, but strong enough for Dominican

  • RICK OGATA photo

What UH-Hilo’s men’s basketball pulled off to get to .500 took guts.

Way too much, in fact, for coach GE Coleman’s liking.

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He didn’t glean much glory from the Vulcans’ 68-64 victory Thursday night against Dominican at Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium in what was – remarkably– their first game all season against a team with a losing record.

That factoid only made Coleman all the more annoyed with his team’s performance against the two-win Penguins.

”I don’t think we played very well,” he said, “and you know you can handle not playing very well, that’s going to happen throughout a college basketball season, but I didn’t think we were dialed in mentally and physically.

“For us to get to where we want to go, we better put on a better performance on what we just did on our home court.”

A win is a win is a …

Still, if other saws guile, Coleman saw gall.

“Luckily enough, we laid an egg and got a win and that doesn’t happen very often,” he said.

It came about because of another gritty effort by flu-ridden senior Kupaa Harrison, who scored 17 of his 19 points during a second half in which neither team led by more than two possessions. Harrison gave UHH (6-6, 4-4 Pacific West Conference) the lead for good at 58-56 with a layup with 5:17 remaining in the game, and after the Vuls missed their next four shots, he hit two baskets and made a free throw to make it 64-58 with under a minute to play.

“(Kupaa) turned it on like big-time players do in the last 10 minutes of a game,” Coleman said. “We don’t win unless Kupaa gets going. We gave him the ball and he took us home.”

Sasa Vuksanovic played all 40 minutes and scored in double figures for the fourth consecutive game with 15 points, Damani Whitlock matched his season-high with 12 points and Kaleb Gilmore gave the Vuls another strong showing off the bench with 10 points, his third double-digit effort in a row.

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Gilmore and Greg Walter provided quality minutes as Harrison was missing one of the essentials: oxygen.

“We had to sub (Kupaa) out a bunch in the first half because he was having a hard time breathing still from getting over that flu,” Coleman said.

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