HILO, Hawaii --- California Baptist University rebounded from a sluggish first half and scored twice in a 16-minute span in the second half to stave off what would have been a colossal upset and get a 2-1 win at Hawaii-Hilo Saturday afternoon, keeping its PacWest title hopes alive.
The win is the Lancers fifth in a row and fourth in four games in Hawaii as they improve to 11-4 overall, 8-1 (24 points) PacWest. They have three games remaining, all of them against teams they are fighting for the conference title with-Grand Canyon and Dixie State. Two of the three are in Riverside.
The Vulcans fall to 2-10-1, 1-7 (3 points).
Playing on a sloppy surface and in rain, the teams combined for just eight shots (four apiece) in the first half, and it was the Vulcans who struck first on a Josiah Motosue strike in the 38th minute, getting a fortuitous bounce on the wet surface over Lancer keeper Joey Pacheco.
As they have done all season, though, the Lancers came out with a strong second-half performance to wrestle control of the game.
"We didn't have a great mentality out of the gate, and they knew it," said CBU Head Coach Ryan Jorden.
"The response we got in the second half was what we had hoped we would get and is a sign of the maturity of this team. We had a sense of urgency and played with more determination to get what we wanted."
Marc Hope got the equalizer in the 51st minute. Cole Schmit played a ball over the top, and UHH keeper Paul Elias came charging out. However, Hope beat Elias to the ball and headed it over the outstretched keeper and into the net to tie the game.
Then in the 67th minute, Osvaldo Bastida concluded an impressive trip where he scored five goals in four games, including his first career hat trick last Wednesday against BYU-Hawaii. Michael Salazar got the ball on the left side and played it through to Bastida, who ran onto it and punched it in the net for his team-leading and career-best ninth goal of the season.
The Vulcans had a great chance with 34 seconds left, earning a free kick at the top of the area, but Pacheco rose to the occasion, jumped and stretched out and came up with his best save of the day, snuffing out the Vulcans' last chance.
"That team (UHH) works their socks off, and we had to match their work rate," said Jorden. "We did that in the second half and put ourselves in a position to get the chances that we took."
The Lancers, who have now outscored their opponents 18-3 in the second half this year, outshot the Vulcans 15-10, including an 11-6 advantage in the second half.
CBU hosts Grand Canyon Thursday at 3 p.m. in a game with massive PacWest title implications.