UPDATED: Waves slow down Warriors, 63-56
There would be no “Revenge of the Nerds” on this Saturday night.
Pepperdine shot a blistering 42 percent (10 of 24) from 3-point range and limited Hawai’i to 33 percent shooting from the field as the Waves hung on for a 63-56 non-conference road victory.
A “Nerd Night” crowd of 5,931 at the Stan Sheriff Center — including dozens of Manoa Maniac students dressed in classic Urkel attire — watched the Warriors fall to 4-3. The Waves improved to 6-3.
UH had lost to Pepperdine, 73-67, in Malibu, Calif., last season and was looking forward to some payback at home this time, but the Waves executed their patient offensive game plan to a T and were aided by the Warriors’ poor shooting from the field and free throw line on the other end.
“Darn it, this was a tough game for us,” Hawai’i coach Gib Arnold said. “It’s unfortunate, because I thought we had a good week of practice and had a little pep in our step, but it didn’t show tonight.”
Christian Standhardinger led the Warriors with 14 points and 10 rebounds, Isaac Fotu added 12 points and nine boards and Vander Joaquim finished with 10 points and eight rebounds. Jordan Baker led Pepperdine with 15 points and seven rebounds, and Lorne Jackson and Caleb Willis each added 11 points and four rebounds.
The Waves finished the first half with an 8-0 run, bookended by 3-pointers from reserve forward Malte Kramer, in the final three minutes to take a 31-23 lead into the locker room. UH clawed back and tied it at 38-38 on Fotu’s free throw with 12:59 remaining, but Pepperdine answered with Baker’s 3-pointer 23 seconds later and maintained the lead the rest of the way.
The Waves built it to 55-46 after Moriba De Freitas sank the front end of a 1-and-1 with 3:41 remaining, though the Warriors cut it to 60-55 on Joaquim’s short turnaround jumper from the right baseline with 1:02 left. Hawai’i regained possession three times shortly thereafter, but could not convert.
On the second possession — after a steal by Hauns Brereton — Standhardinger’s layup got stuck between the rim and backboard.
“I never had that happen in my whole career,” said Standhardinger, a junior forward. “I tried my hardest, we were trying hard, but the ball just did not go in.”
The Warriors kept the ball via the possession arrow, but Joaquim missed a short jumper and Jackson then sank two free throws with 42 seconds remaining to make it 62-55 and added another foul shot 14 seconds later to push it to 63-55. UH could only manage a free throw by Joaquim with 7.7 ticks on the clock.
The Warriors’ struggles from the field started in the first half, when they made just 8 of 28 field goals (27 percent). Pepperdine, meanwhile, drained 7 of 14 shots from 3-point range — often after milking the 35-second shot clock down to the final ticks.
“We fell behind, and against a team like that which runs their sets and takes their time — not shooting until late in the clock — you can’t do that,” said Hawai’i point guard Jace Tavita, who finished with nine points and four assists. “They executed their game plan, and we just couldn’t get it going. We didn’t execute.”
Arnold said the Waves effectively established a comfortable pace early on and maintained it until the end.
“They wanted to keep the score in the 60s, and they got 63 and we got 56,” Arnold said. “Their guards were able to dictate the tempo, and that’s the game right there. Give Pepperdine credit, they played their style.”
Offensively, the Warriors could not find any kind of rhythm and had few fast break opportunities.
“Our offense is good when we run, but we weren’t able to run tonight,” Arnold said. “In a halfcourt set, our wings need to hit shots because teams are going to sag on our bigs. We need to be better balanced.”
The 56 points was Hawai’i's lowest output of this season, and ended a streak of 32 consecutive games with at least 60 points.
UH also was plagued by poor free throw shooting, finishing a dismal 13 of 26 (50 percent) from the line.
In the end, the dressed-up nerds in the festive crowd were left scratching their heads.
“It’s fun seeing the students get behind our team, and we feel like we let them down,” Arnold said. “The guys are upset, but this is a team that is still in progress, it’s a team that still has a lot of growth left.”
After taking the next two days off to study for final exams, the Warriors will begin preparation for Saturday’s game against Chaminade on Moloka’i.
(Game photos courtesy Brandon Flores)