HILO, Hawaii – A last second alley-oop off by Tre Johnson sent No. 15 BYU-Hawaii men's basketball to an 82-79 loss to the University of Hawaii at Hilo on Saturday in the Hilo Civic Auditorium.
Daniel Berger led the team with 18 points and five rebounds as he shot 55.6 percent from the field. Luke Aston hit several clutch shots on his way to 15 points, but it wasn't enough for the Seasiders (8-1, 2-1 PacWest).
The nation's best free-throw shooting team coming in, BYU-Hawaii missed 14 from the charity stripe to give Hilo (5-5, 1-3 PacWest) a chance to win the game.
Aston hit a 3-pointer with 52 seconds left in the game to give the Seasiders a lead and the team's traded points until Cory Lange blocked the Vulcans' attempted game-winner out of bounds with 2 seconds remaining. On the ensuing inbounds play, Tre Johnson grabbed the inbounds pass in front of the rim and laid it in as he was fouled by Tyler Tuliau.
The beginning of the game was a tight battle as the teams traded points and leads until two 3-pointer from Pablo Coro gave BYU-Hawaii some separation at 21-14 with 13 minutes remaining in the half. Aston then sparked a 7-1 run that extended the BYU-Hawaii lead to 31-22 with 10:18 left.
With five minutes remaining in the half the Seasiders had built a double-digit lead as Aston buried two free-throws. Despite the Vulcans efforts to decrease the lead to five, a jumper from Aston assisted by Robbie Mitchell with 23 seconds on the clock sent the Seasiders into the break with a 10-point lead.
Aston led all players with 12 points in the first half and two assists. Berger was right behind Aston with seven points and added two rebounds and one assist.
The Vulcans came out of the locker room hot, using a 12-0 run to take the lead from the cold-shooting Seasiders at 53-55 with 15 minutes left in the game. A free throw by Mitchell tied the game up once again at 58-58, but the Vulcans quickly retook the lead with a 3-pointer on the other end. From then on the score was tied on three separate occasions with each team matching each other point to point.
At 76-70 the Seasiders went on an 8-1 run to retake the lead with 52 seconds left after a 3-pointer from Aston in the corner, but the Vulcans answered with a jumper of their own. Mitchell tied the game up again with hitting one of two from the free-throw line to set up the final shot for the Vulcans.
The Seasiders will look to rebound in the new year when they take on Hawaii Pacific on Jan. 2 at 7:30 pm HST in the Canon Activity Center. Live stats will be available online.