St. Francis makes a splash
Bryce Nishida leads the Saints past Hawaii Baptist by 31
Bryce Nishida splashed six 3-pointers and scored 22 points as No. 3 St. Francis overwhelmed Hawaii Baptist 85-54 on Friday night at Dan Liu Gymnasium.
Nishida was one of five Saints to connect from the arc as the visitors shot a phenomenal 15-for-26 (58 percent) to extinguish any possible rallies by the Eagles on homecoming night.
“We were fortunate tonight. We’re a shooting team and we’ve just got to be consistent,” said
Nishida, a southpaw. “Everyone was making the right decisions tonight.”
HBA’s man-to-man defense did all it could to counter St. Francis’ leading scorer, Kameron Ng. He finished with 14 points and was challenged by the Eagles on his drives, finishing just 5-for-17 from the field. However, he adapted and dished out nine assists and also had five steals.
“Kameron didn’t get a lot of calls, but you can’t expect to always get them,” Saints coach Ron Durant said. “I’m glad he made that adjustment, getting other people involved. He knew who was hot.”
Ng, a junior point guard, came into the game averaging 26 points per game. He found Jett Tanuvasa, who was 4-for-4 from 3-point range for 14 points. He also found Manoa Kuali‘i-Moe, the versatile senior who added 15 points, four boards and one resounding block in transition defense. Boris Vukovic tallied eight points and 10 rebounds and guard Titus Liu hit three treys off the bench.
“Titus was hitting 3s, Jett was hitting 3s. We saw HBA at the Punahou tournament and how quickly they push the ball, so we knew we had to sprint back on defense,” Durant said.
Nishida’s shooting touch on this night was timely.
“That’s what we need from him. We asked to take 12 to 15 shots (per game) and hit 40 percent from 3,” Durant added.
Kordel Ng added seven assists for the Saints, who improved to 4-0 in ILH Division II play (20-3 overall). HBA dropped to 2-2 in league play (16-7 overall) and trails St. Francis and Damien in the standings. Micah Mitchell scored 22 points to lead the Eagles. Max Weimken added 10 points and seven rebounds.
“We figured we’d focus on stopping 30 points per game,” HBA coach George Weeks said of Kameron Ng. “He was still controlling the offense. He’s matured.”
St. Francis, which has lost only to No. 1 Punahou (twice) and No. 2 Kamehameha, never lost a beat. HBA’s only lead was at 3-2 on a wing 3 from Mitchell. The Saints shot 10-for-17 in the first quarter to open a 25-11 lead. Nishida was 3-for-6 behind the arc.
The Saints’ man defense was up to the task against the normally high-scoring Eagles, limiting them to 3-for-15 shooting from the field in the opening quarter. Weimken, averaging 18 points per game, shot 4-for13 from the field. By halftime, St. Francis had a 47-29 lead on 9-for-16 shooting from the 3-point line.
“They attacked the rim, played great defense and were super efficient from the 3-point line,” Weeks said. “With those kinds of athletes, that’s tough for any team they play.”
For the game, St. Francis had a 29-27 edge on the boards. HBA finished at 35 percent from the field (20-for57) against a mix of man and zone defenses. The Eagles were 6-for-24 from the arc.
“Ironically, tonight was our lowest 3-point output,” Weeks noted. “It was a combination of great defense by St. Francis and a cold shooting night for us.”
St. Francis guard Bryce Nishida shot a 3 over Hawaii Baptist guard Cole Galicinao in the first quarter of Friday’s game.