The UH-Hilo women’s basketball team has clearly established itself as the No. 2 team in the PacWest pod season, not as good as nationally ranked No. 8 Hawaii Pacific or as bad as winless Chaminade.
The Vulcans beat the Silverswords 53-46 on Sunday at UHH Gym, winning their fourth straight, all over Chaminade.
UHH senior Kim Schmelz moved into second place on the career scoring list with with 14 points on 6 of 12 shooting for the Vulcans (4-4), who shot 33% from the field.
Schmelz has 988 career points and moved ahead of Sheila Azevedo, who scored 974 points from 2007-09. Allie Navarette is the all-time leader with 1,398 points in three seasons.
“Kim hit some big shots,” UHH coach David Kaneshiro said. “She has obviously been a consistent scorer since her freshman year and very efficient. She shoots a high percentage, and the great part is she’s so unselfish, thinks team first, and doesn’t care that she got this honor, and that’s why her teammates love her.”
Schmelz is eligible to return for a seventh season under the NCAA’s COVID-19 scenario, where players retain their class standing.
Mandi Kawaha added 12 points, and Bree Olson scored eight points off the bench for the Vuls, who trailed by 13 in the first quarter.
Ariana Blowe, a junior forward, scored 16 points to lead the youthful Silverswords (0-8), who shot 29% from the floor.
Chaminade has no seniors and starts two freshmen (seven freshmen on the roster), a sophomore, and Blowe, and the team’s inexperience proved costly in the fourth quarter.
In the fourth, the Silverswords trailed 41-37 after Mikayla Tablit hit a pair of free throws. Then a pair of miscues proved costly.
Michaella Dean attempted a contested floater at the free-throw line and missed. On Chaminade’s next possession, the offense was called for a three-second violation.
Ball back to the Vulcans, who immediately capitalized. Kawaha dribbled near the free-throw line, the rotation was slow, and she sank a pull-up jump shot for a 45-37 lead.
Kawaha was fouled and sank two free throws for a 51-46 lead with 40.9 seconds left.
The Silverswords couldn’t score and fouled Schmelz, who hit a pair of free throws for a 53-46 lead with 4.6 seconds remaining.
“It was a tough game, obviously hard-fought. We didn’t shoot it very well,” Kaneshiro said. “We guarded the ball a little bit better in the second half.”
The Vuls outscored the Silverswords 30-16 in the second half, and it helped that they shot 11 of 12 from the free-throw line. Chaminade made 12 of 16 free throws.
Chaminade may be in last place, but they’ve got a lot of room to grow. One of the team’s most impressive players is point guard Lile Hina Oyama, a 5-foot-1 freshman out of Kalani High.
She’s been going to the Dennis Agena clinics and is a lot like Kawaha, a fundamentally sound player. Oyama scored eight points and had two assists. Her coach Arthur King described her as a natural scorer but noted her role is as a distributor.
The Vuls have the edge in the point guard department. They have Kawaha and her freshman sister Mindy Kawaha, who scored two points in 16 minutes.
They also have someone like Schmelz, who keeps scoring points and became UHH’s second-place all-time scorer.