Warriors lose regular-season finale in heartbreaking fashion
The Hawai’i basketball team closed the regular season with a heartbreaking 61-60 loss to Utah State on Saturday night.
A “Whiteout” arena of 8,192 — the largest home crowd of the season — at the Stan Sheriff Center watched the Warriors drop their fifth consecutive game to finish the regular season at 15-15 overall and 6-8 in the Western Athletic Conference.
Utah State improved to 17-14 and 8-6.
The Warriors will be the No. 6 seed for next week’s WAC Tournament at Las Vegas, and will face No. 3 seed Idaho in the quarterfinals.
Morgan Grim scored on a driving layup with seven seconds remaining to give the Aggies the victory, after Hawai’i held the lead for most of the second half. There was some controversy at the end, as the game clock appeared to stop for a few seconds before starting again. The game officials, however, did not review the game’s final seconds.
The Warriors took a 60-59 lead with 37 seconds left when Joston Thomas drained one of two free throws to break a 59-all tie.
Thomas led the Warriors with 19 points and five rebounds. Miah Ostrowski added 13 points and four assists, and Zane Johnson scored 10.
Senior guards Ostrowski and Johnson were honored after the game, although the ending of the contest turned it into somewhat of a somber celebration.
Leading scorer Vander Joaquim was held to season-lows for both points (two) and rebounds (four), and fouled out with 8:57 remaining. He entered the game averaging 14.4 points and 9.7 rebounds per game, but was limited to 20 minutes due to foul problems.
The Warriors fell behind, 15-7, early in the game, but rallied to take a 31-29 lead at intermission. Thomas scored 11 in the first half, including a driving dunk off an assist from Ostrowski that gave the Warriors the halftime advantage.
Hawai’i increased its lead to as many as nine early in the second half, but Utah State kept it close the rest of the way.
A layup by Utah State’s Morgan Grim cut the Hawai’i lead to 57-55 with 2:24 remaining. On the ensuing possession, Hauns Brereton hit one of two free throws to give the Warriors a 58-55 advantage.
Brockeith Pane then hit a short jumper to pull the Aggies within one at 58-57, then Johnson went one of two from the free-throw line to make it 59-57 with 1:25 left.
Utah State finally caught the Warriors at 59-59 with a minute remaining on a short jumper by Preston Medlin.
More details, including video highlights and interviews, will be posted later.
(WarriorInsider.com photos by Brandon Flores)