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UPDATED: Warriors rally in overtime win at San Jose State

SAN JOSE, Calif. – It took a little longer than expected, but the Hawai’i basketball team found its way in San Jose just in time to earn a hard-fought 83-81 overtime victory over San Jose State.

A crowd of 3,245 at the Event Center witnessed the Warriors rally from a 14-point deficit in the second half, and then win their third overtime game of this season.

Hawai’i improved to 13-9 overall and is now alone in third place in the Western Athletic Conference at 5-3. The Spartans dropped to 7-16 overall and remained winless in the WAC at 0-8, including two losses to the Warriors.

“San Jose State did a great job tonight,” Hawai’i head coach Gib Arnold said. “I give them a lot of credit. Their game plan was perfect. Their execution was outstanding … they deserved to probably win that game. I thought our guys, for about 25 minutes, didn’t deserve to win it. But we were fortunate. This is a pretty resilient team, and good teams do that — good teams win when you’re not at your best, and you find a way to win. And I thought this team did just that.”

Joston Thomas scored a career-high 29 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to lead the Warriors. In two games against San Jose State this season, Thomas has 56 points and 20 rebounds.

“I feel like Zane and Vander are way more aggressive against San Jose so that makes it easier for me,” Thomas said. “They demand respect and double-teams so I just pick and choose off them.”

Zane Johnson added 19 points – 14 in the second half, then five in overtime – and went 5 or 10 from 3-point range.

“It’s tough to play on the road, no mater where you’re at,” Johnson said. “They played well tonight and we just didn’t bring it in the first half. What good teams do is they come back and battle on the defensive end.”

Of teammate Thomas’ career-high point total, Johnson said: “He dominated down there in the paint. He was hitting everywhere. That’s awesome for him.”

Vander Joaquim finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds for his eighth double-double of the season. Hauns Brereton contributed 10 points, and Miah Ostrowski had three points and six assists.

However, the player Arnold tabbed as the MVP of the game was sophomore Bobby Miles, who did not score a point, but had three assists, four rebounds, and sparked the defensive effort that helped the Warriors rally in the second half.

“It started on the defensive end,” Arnold said. “Bobby Miles, who didn’t score a point, was the most valuable player of tonight’s game. I thought Bobby Miles did a great job there and got us back on the defensive end. Once we got back in it, we started executing down the stretch.”

Hawai’i shot 53.7 percent from the field, including 60.9 percent in the second half, and 57.1 percent in overtime. In contrast, the Spartans shot 38.9 percent from the field, including just 40 percent in the second half, and 33.3 percent in overtime.

“It was just to get stops and create energy for the defensive side,” Miles said of his role in the game. “(Arnold) just put me in to get defensive energy.”

San Jose State led by as many as nine points in the first half, and took a 33-26 lead at intermission. An 18-foot jump shot by Joaquim just before the halftime buzzer seemed to give the Warriors some momentum going into the locker room.

However, the Spartans increased their lead to 54-40 with 13:14 remaining in the second half. That’s when Miles was inserted into the game, and the Warriors finally awoke.

Hawai’i went on a furious 16-0 surge over a five-minute stretch to catch the Spartans. Johnson’s 3-pointer tied the game at 54 with 7:31 remaining, then Thomas gave the Warriors a 56-54 lead with an emphatic drive-and-dunk moments later.

“I really don’t pay attention to the scoreboard like that,” said Thomas, who shot 12 of 16 from the field. “I just try to make plays off my teammates.”

The game stayed close the rest of the way, and both teams blew opportunities in the closing seconds of regulation.

Hawaii led 68-62 with 2:29 remaining. However, with the Warriors clinging to a 70-69 lead, Thomas missed two free throws with 11 seconds remaining. On the ensuing possession, San Jose State’s Keith Shamburger was fouled with 3.5 seconds remaining and he was able to hit just one of two free throws to send the game to overtime.

“We had our inside-outside attack going,” Arnold said. “Had a chance to win it couple times from the free throw line and didn’t step up and knock those down and we need to do that. But again, we had just enough stops to pull this one out. I’m pleased with our guys. It wasn’t our best performance, but I’m proud of them. It’s tough to win oon the road.”

Johnson’s 3-pointer from the top of the key gave the Warriors a 77-74 lead in overtime they would not relinquish. However, it was still exciting at the end.

Joaquim went 1 of 4 from the free-throw line in the final 12 seconds, but San Jose State could not capitalize. With Hawaii holding an 82-81 lead, Joaquim missed two free throws. After a San Jose State miss, Joaquim grabbed the rebound. He was fouled, and then made one of two free throws to make the final score 83-81. San Jose State’s James Kinney then missed a half-court shot at the buzzer.

“It was a very disappointing result,” San Jose State head coach George Nessman said. “Our team is showing the character and the toughness to succeed, but we’re not showing the composure to succeed. We had a stretch there when Joston Thomas really took over the game. We took some bad shots, there, too. Down the stretch, we had some clear opportunities to win the game that we didn’t take advantage of.”

Wil Carter led the Spartans with 22 points and 12 rebounds. In the two losses to Hawaii, Carter has 43 points and 32 rebounds. Kinney added 21 points and D.J. Brown scored 18.

The Warriors are scheduled to return to Honolulu on Sunday afternoon. The next game will be at home on Thursday, when Hawaii will host first-place Nevada in the Stan Sheriff Center. The Wolf Pack lost its first WAC game of the season on Saturday, but will still come to Hawai’i with records of 19-4 overall and 8-1 in the conference.

(WarriorInsider.com file photos courtesy Brandon Flores)

11 Comments

  1. awesome win! get home safe, rest up for two HUGE games this week. Nevada just got their first loss of their conference season, and they’ll be looking to bounce back. pack the house this thursday fans! this is a special team! and we need to send fresno out the door too on saturday! see you at the SSC!!!

  2. Thanks for the print and video coverage, Dayton. Quite a game; great comeback — as Gib said, resiliency is a quality possessed by good teams.

  3. Road Warriors represent! Every game is important at this point in the season, but like Chawan said they got two huge games coming up at home. Keep taking it one game at a time, stay humble, and this team might make it to the top!

  4. Clyde Were the Fans Cool with Cheering Hawai’i Fans ?
    (Especially when the Warriors put them away )

    We were at the Colt Brennan “Bog” (Mud literally up to our ankles, even knees) when the Warriors were down two touchdowns with four minutes left against Dick Tomey’s Spartans — We Won that one , too …

  5. If Joston keeps playing this way and UH manages to overtake Nevada for the wac crown, WAC POY is Joston Thomas!!!

  6. This game wasn’t pretty but the team did what it had to do to win the game and that’s what a a good team does. They stayed close towards the end and found a way to win. Teams always did it to us. Joston had another monster game and bailed us out. On the other hand, pretty much the same achilles heel: poor free throw shooting, poor outside shooting (except when they made the run towards the end), and too many turnovers. If these problems are not resolved soon we could see an early exit when it comes to post season play. These 3 things should be the primary focus in practice. Solve these problems and Hawaii is off to the Dance.

  7. This game wasn’t pretty but the team did what it had to do to win the game and that’s what a a good team does. They stayed close towards the end and found a way to win. Teams always did it to us. Joston had another monster game and bailed us out. Wonder if we will ever see improvement in free throws and turnovers. Team needs to step it up in this area if we are to go to the Dance.

  8. It’s crazy how far Josten has come, even from as recently as earlier this year when he wasn’t even starting and wasn’t even coming in until late in the first half or even until the second half.. Mad props to him for sticking with Gib’s game plan and not continuing to think he was Zane Johnson by hoisting 3 pointers all day long..

    Now if they can only get some more consistency out of Zane, who knows what could happen..

  9. One thing I want to mention from actually being at the game was how during one of the timeouts when Hawaii was down by 14, Joston being very passionate basically told his teammates that theyre better than that and that they can win. After that impromptu speech, the team looked more energetic and showed that they wanted it. Props to Joston for being vocal leader…couldnt help but get chills watching him pumped up talking to the team like that.

  10. Awesome Warriors, you didn’t give up, no surrender, this week , is crucial ,everyone come out and pack the Stanley, Tailgate saturday night at the arena ! Get your tickets Monday, limited supply
    call the basketball office Monday morning, it’s going to be a good night!!

  11. Joston needs to be the team captain for the rest of the season and next season!!

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