LAHAINA >> Tennessee played well for stretches, had a few lapses in Maui. The Vols lost to a pair of ranked teams and closed out the tournament by beating a team they were supposed to.
The three-day trip, one Tennessee coach Rick Barnes initially wanted to get out of, is definitely something the young Vols can build on for the rest of the season.
Robert Hubbs III scored 28 points, Detrick Mostella added 14 and Tennessee beat host Chaminade 95-81 Wednesday to take seventh place in the Maui Invitational.
“I can’t tell you how proud I am of the way they came out today and responded, because they really laid it out there for two days against two really top 20 teams,” Barnes said. “But I think we’ll leave here knowing that we’re capable of playing and beating anybody on our schedule.”
Tennessee (2-3) had an inconsistent trip to Maui, playing well for stretches against No. 16 Wisconsin and No. 13 Oregon, ultimately losing to both.
The Vols didn’t have much trouble with the Division II Silverswords, using a short run late in the first half to build an 11-point lead and sustaining it through the second half.
Tennessee shot 52 percent and had a 52-32 advantage in the paint. Shembari Phillips had 12 points and Jordan Bowden 11 for the Vols.
“I think our progress has been very good,” said Hubbs, who was 10 for 19 from the floor and made all seven of his free throws. “We had two close battles in Wisconsin and Oregon, two really great teams, and we put up a fight and it just shows how good this team can be.”
Chaminade (2-3) closed out another Maui Invitational by putting a scare into power programs again, notably UConn in the second round.
The Silverswords kept Tennessee from turning their finale into a rout by hitting 9-of-25 3-pointers.
Rohndell Goodwin led Chaminade with 22 points and Kiran Shastri added 19.
“I think this experience is going to really, really help us,” Chaminade coach Eric Bovaird said. “I think we’re going to be a strong team in Division II.”
Chaminade’s deep shooting allowed the Silverswords to keep No. 4 North Carolina close for about 10 minutes in the opener and UConn until the closing minutes in the second round.
Chaminade again kept up with a power program behind its perimeter shooting, still within 23-21 of Tennessee near the midpoint of the first half.
The Vols began to extend the lead behind Phillips, who had 12 points by halftime to put Tennessee up 51-40.
Hubbs took over in the second half, scoring 12 points in the opening nine minutes to keep the Vols’ cushion over double figures. Hobbs punctuated Tennessee’s Maui finale with a tomahawk dunk over Nate Pollard, Chaminade’s 7-foot-1 center.
“It was just back to the mental lapses,” said Goodwin, who played through a sprained left ankle in the second half. “That’s something we have to work on. We have to learn how to keep fighting not to put our head down.”
Tennessee showed flashes of what it could do in Maui, though not consistently. The Vols leave with a win, but it was against a team they should beat.
Chaminade: Another year in Maui, another batch of games for the Silverswords to build upon for the rest of the season.
Tennessee hosts Georgia Tech on Dec. 3.
Chaminade hosts Hawaii Hilo on Nov. 30.