HPU tops Hilo in OT
• Photo gallery: HPU vs. UH-Hilo basketball
By Kalani Takase
Advertiser Staff Writer
After dropping its second game to Hawai'i Pacific in eight days, the University of Hawai'i-Hilo men's basketball is seeing double.
Senior forward C.J. scored 33 points and grabbed 15 rebounds — both game-highs — to lead HPU to a 103-99 overtime victory over UH-Hilo in a Pacific West conference men's basketball game at Blaisdell Arena last night.
HPU had three players record double-doubles, including Ray Murdock (31 points, 10 rebounds) and Mike Helton (22 and 10) to improve to 14-4 overall and 6-1 in the PacWest. Hilo fell to 10-7 and 4-3.
"This is the first time in my career that three guys had a double-double," Sea Warriors coach Tony Sellitto said.
The teams traded baskets — and the lead — for much of the night.
"This is the way it used to be in the old time," Sellitto said. "Whenever we played Chaminade, Hilo or BYUH, the games were just like this — hard fought — so to come out a winner is really good."
The Sea Warriors held a 38-35 halftime lead, but the Vulcans stormed to a 43-40 early second-half lead after an up-and-under move by Bryan Ngo. Minutes later, Murdock hit consecutive 3-pointers to give HPU a 50-45 lead. But the Vulcans would not go away.
Hilo took its last lead of regulation with 3:12 to play following a baseline drive and bucket by Lavell Shipman that made the score 76-75. However, HPU scored eight of the next 10 points to surge ahead 83-78 with 44 seconds left.
HPU led 86-82 with 16 seconds left before Hilo's Kevin Bruce hit a pull-up jumper from inside five feet to make it 86-84 with six seconds left.
Helton was fouled on HPU's ensuing possession and made the second of two free throws to put his team up three. However, the Vulcans found Bruce in the left corner and he drained the tying 3-pointer with 0.1 seconds remaining to send it into overtime.
Murdock put HPU ahead for good just seven seconds into overtime with a 3-pointer to make it 90-87. He scored seven of his points in the extra period.
Ngo cut the HPU lead to 101-99 after he hit a pair of free throws with 12 seconds left, but Murdock sealed it for the Sea Warriors with two free throws to close the scoring with 10 seconds left.
"To me, Ray Murdock is absolutely sensational," Sellitto said. "He hit some big free throws down the stretch and made outstanding 3-point shots to keep us in the game. I can't say enough about him."
Jackson, a 6-foot-8, 265-pound transfer from Illinois, was 11-of-15 from the field and 11-of-17 on free throws. He also had five blocks while playing all 45 minutes. Helton, who entered the game leading the league in scoring with 20.7 points per game, also played the entire game. Murdock finished 11-of-19 from the field, including 4-of-6 from behind the arc, and had four assists and three steals.
"Those guys — plus Norman Wells — are very experienced," said Sellitto, noting that Murdock played in the NCAA Division I Tournament twice while at the University of San Diego. "Pressure is no big deal, ups and downs are no big deal, those guys really respond really well by keeping their emotions very even keel, so I think that has a lot to do with why they're so successful."
Jackson said Saturday's 89-88 loss at BYUH raised the stakes last night.
"We wanted this one really bad after we lost up there, but I think that loss actually picked us up a notch — it let us know that we can be beat," said Jackson, who also played tight end for the Fighting Illini football team.
Ngo scored 28 points and Justin Smith added 23 for Hilo, which lost to HPU, 83-82, on Jan. 18.
HPU 65, UH-Hilo 51: Mana Hopkins scored 20 points and Paris Gravely added 17 to lead the Sea Warriors (11-4, 7-0 PacWest) over the Vulcans (5-12, 2-5). The Sea Warriors outrebounded the Vulcans, 50-21, and made 23 of 33 free-throw attempts while Hilo was just 13 of 19 from the line. Natalie Mata led Hilo with 15 points. Genesis Lewis had 11 rebounds and nine points for HPU.