Star-Bulletin Sports

Tuesday, January 29, 2002


HPU's Nash Subotic went up against Hilo's David La Qua last night. The Vulcans suffered their second PacWest loss.

HPU knocks Hilo
from first

By Brandon Lee

The Pacific West Conference battle last night between the state's two regionally ranked Division II teams figured to be a tight one -- and it was.

No. 8 Hawaii Pacific came out on top, defeating No. 4 Hawaii-Hilo 69-66 at Blaisdell Arena.

HPU senior shooting guard Nash Subotic had 21 points to lead all scorers, as the lead changed hands 14 times. The score was tied on eight occasions and neither team led by more than five points throughout.

The PacWest's third-place team, the Sea Warriors moved their record to 13-5 overall and 4-2 in the conference. After winning 13 of their previous 14 games, the Vulcans (15-4, 5-2) are now a half-game behind Montana State-Billings in second place.

"It was huge," Subotic said of the victory. "They were in first place and it was a must-win for us. I kind of believe in our team because we've been in (tight) situations before."

Nate Block added 13 points and nine rebounds for HPU. Hilo's David LaQua had a team-high 19 points, while Scott Prather chipped in 14 and Kyle Bartholomew 10.

The Vulcans had a 65-64 advantage with 1:51 left in the game. But John Avilla's baseline jumper at 1:35 took a one-point lead back for the Sea Warriors.

Block's tip-in for 68-65 with 43.9 seconds left ended up sealing the game for HPU, though he made it interesting by missing three of four free throws in the final 10 seconds.

Brady Hyde's 3-point attempt for Hilo as time expired went wide to give the Vulcans their second PacWest loss, both coming on the road.

"We needed this win," HPU assistant coach Russell Dung said. "We needed this to stay in contention, and we played tough. We have a bench and we try to utilize it, hoping our seniors will carry us in the end -- and that's what happened."

For the game, HPU outshot Hilo 50 percent (30 of 60) to 47 percent (26 of 55). The Sea Warriors enjoyed an even bigger advantage on the boards, outrebounding the Vulcans 37-25.

In the first half, Derek Mgbeke's free throw with 51.4 seconds until intermission allowed Hilo to build its first five-point lead, 36-31. HPU followed with an unsuccessful possession, and the Vulcans got the ball back with just under 30 seconds left and the chance to go up by more. But Nic Walters stole the ball from Prather near midcourt and raced for a hoop as time expired to pull the Sea Warriors to a 36-33 halftime deficit.

Both teams shot well in the first half, with HPU just edging Hilo 53 percent (16 of 30) to 52 percent (15 of 29). But the Vulcans were much better than the Sea Warriors from 3-point range, nailing four of their six attempts (67 percent) from beyond the arc compared to just one of six (17 percent) for HPU.

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