It was somewhat close at halftime. The UH-Hilo men’s basketball team trailed No. 18 Azusa Pacific 39-32 at the break on Thursday in Azusa, Calif., the start of a short two-game road trip.
Then the second half started, and the game got away from the Vulcans. The Cougars defeated UHH 78-59, winning their eighth in a row.
In December, the Vuls beat the Cougars 82-79, behind Jordan Graves’ 26 points. He kept getting in the lane and hitting jump shots. But he’s done for the season with an arm injury, and the firepower suffered.
Kupaa Harrison scored 26 points, but everyone else struggled. Kaleb Gilmore added 11 points, and Elisa Duplechan had eight points. Sasa Vuksanovic, who had 22 points against APU a month earlier, finished with four points for the Vuls (7-7, 5-5 PacWest), who shot 41 percent from the field, including 5 of 16 from beyond the arc.
SalemMawugbe scored 18 points, Brennan Rymer had 13 points, and Ben Taufahema and Terrence Becvar had 11 each for the Cougars (13-3, 8-2), who shot 52 percent from the field, including 10 of 27 from 3-point range.
APU outscored UHH 42-16 on points in the paint and outrebounded the visitors 40-26.
In the second half, the Cougars bolted to a 13-6 run to extend their lead to 58-44.
The Cougars shared the ball well and finished with 22 assists. UHH had just four assists.
“We held them to six 3-pointers in Hilo, but didn’t defend well tonight,” head coach GE Coleman said. “They are playing really well right now, and we couldn’t afford any type of letdown to stay with them tonight. We had too many.”
The Vuls next play Fresno Pacific on Saturday.
APU 88, UHH 57: Savanna Hanson scored 25 points, and the Cougars hit 11 of 31 from beyond the arc to rout the Vulcans.
Kim Schmelz scored 18 points on 7 of 18 shooting, and Allie Navarette added 16 points on 6 of 19 shooting and grabbed 12 rebounds for the Vuls (5-9, 4-6), who shot 33 percent from the field, including 6 of 14 from long distance.
Mikayla Tablit started, played 27 minutes and had a stellar distribution game. She went scoreless on 0 of 4 shooting but had seven assists and no turnovers. Mandi Kawaha scored 11 points.
Molly Whitmore came off the bench and scored 17 points for APU (13-3, 7-3), the defending conference champion, which led 46-26 at halftime. The Cougars have won four straight.