"We did a good job, particularly in the second half, playing our game," BYU-Hawaii head coach Craig Stanger. "Defensively our girls did a good job of rebounding and controlling the tempo. Celeste did a nice job creating space to give our shooters opportunities. When we do that we are pretty good."
Tatupu and K. Nelson scored 14 points apiece and had a combined nine rebounds. It was a new career high for K. Nelson, who has scored in double figures in the last two games. Whitney Fieldsted came out strong in the second half scoring all 10 of her points to go with seven rebounds and two assists.
As a team, BYU-Hawaii held a 17 rebound advantage on the board, while dealing out three more assists. The Vulcans (8-13, 6-10 PacWest) shot 48 percent from the field during the game, but the Seasiders countered with a 12-point advantage on second chance points.
After Hilo led for most of the first half, Fieldsted and Tatupu powered a 10-1 run as and K. Nelson added another bucket to break open a tight game and give BYU-Hawaii a 50- 41 lead with 10:25 remaining. The Seasiders held off several Vulcan runs to keep themselves in the PacWest Championship Tournament discussion.
Hilo took the lead early, but Mata Tonga provided a spark off the bench cleaning the glass and helping the Seasiders take an 11-10 lead as Celeste Claw moved up the court quickly in transition and found a wide open Tatupu for a 3-pointer.
The Vulcans answered with an 8-0 run highlighted by back-to-back three pointers stopped only after K. Nelson made a jump shot and sank a free-throw from the charity stripe to keep the game close at 18-16 with 10:32 on the clock.
The game remained tight as BYU-Hawaii answered every attempt by Hilo to increase their lead. The Vulcans held a 33-31 lead going into the break. Tatupu led the Seasiders with nine points, while K. Nelson added seven points off the bench.
BYU-Hawaii looked to get their inside game going early in the second half, tying the game at 33-33 off a jumper from Emily Nelson. Fieldsted then scored her first points of the game to give the Seasiders the 35-33 lead with 18:12 remaining.
With the game locked up at 38-38 Gilson drained a long jumper from the left elbow to keep the Seasiders in the lead. The teams continued to trade points until the Seasiders 10-1 run broke open the game.
With the roles reversed, BYU-Hawaii fought hard keeping Hawaii Hilo in their rearview mirror despite multiple fouls from both teams and constant offensive pressure from the Vulcan attackers to keep the 59-52 lead with 3:23 showing on the clock.
As the clock wound down to 27 seconds, the Vulcans cut the Seasider lead to one, but BYU-Hawaii sealed the game from the free-throw line.
Seasiders return to the court on Monday against Holy Names at 5 p.m. HST in the Canon Activities Center. Live stats and video will be available online.