UPDATED: Warriors drop Big West road opener at Irvine
IRVINE, Calif. – The price on turnovers is even more costly in Southern California than it is in Honolulu. The Hawai’i basketball team found that out the hard way during a 68-64 loss at UC Irvine on Wednesday night.
The Warriors committed 17 turnovers, including five during a crucial four-minute stretch late in the game when the Anteaters were able to open up a lead.
A crowd of 1,541 at the Bren Events Center watched Irvine snap Hawai’i’s three-game winning streak. The Warriors are now 9-6 overall and 3-1 in the Big West; the Anteaters are 8-9 and 2-2.
“Darn it, I thought the effort was great all night,” Hawai’i head coach Gib Arnold said. “I thought the guys played their heats out … did a lot of good things, just not enough to win. Looking back, I think the main thing would be our turnovers. We turned it over too much and didn’t turn them over as much as we need to. That’s something we need to keep working on.”
The sloppy finish overshadowed what was previously a back-and-forth game for the national television audience on ESPNU. The teams exchanged the lead 21 times during the game, including 15 times in the second half.
Senior center Vander Joaquim led the Warriors with 15 points and seven rebounds. He shot 7 of 9 from the field, but was limited to 24 minutes due to foul trouble.
“That’s part of the game,” Arnold said. “We’re deep enough to where we can handle if one guy gets in foul trouble. It’s a team effort. Davis (Rozitis) I thought played a lot of minutes and did a nice job, but obviously we like the big fella out there as much as we can.”
Junior forward Christian Standhardinger got his team-leading sixth double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds. Guards Brandon Spearman and Brandon Jawato added 12 and nine points, respectively. Rozitis contributed six points and seven rebounds in 14 minutes off the bench.
The Warriors out-rebounded the Anteaters, 46-34, but shot just 35.6 percent from the field.
“We didn’t do enough,” Jawato said. “We need to take care of the ball. That’s basically our main goal. We locked down their top scorers, we did everything it took to win. It was just our turnovers.”
Irvine shot 39 percent from the field, but committed just 10 turnovers. Chris McNealy, who was 4 for 26 from 3-point range prior to the game, went 3 for 5 from long range and led the Anteaters with 15 points off the bench.
Hawai’i had a 31-23 lead late in the first half, but Irvine closed the half with a 5-0 surge to make it 31-28 at intermission. The first 15 minutes of the second half then turned into a tug-of-war for the lead.
The Warriors’ last lead was at 57-56 with 4:53 remaining. The Anteaters then scored eight unanswered points to take a 64-57 lead with 1:24 remaining. Irvine guard Daman Starring sank an off-balance jumper as the shot clock was about to expire to cap the surge.
“(Starring) was really well guarded and we did a good job on the boards, but they got a couple of putbacks that we’d like to probably have back,” Arnold said. “It’s too bad because I thought the guys played hard and anytime you’re on the road you just want to be in there at the end. We were right there and let it slip away.”
The Warriors put on a full-court press in the closing minute to make it exciting. Jawato hit an off-balance 3-pointer to make it 67-63, and then Garrett Jefferson got a steal on the ensuing inbounds play. Jawato took another 3-point attempt that could have cut the lead to one, but the ball rattled out.
“We never gave up,” Spearman said. “We played hard. That’s what you have to do every road game.”
Hawai’i will get another shot at a road win this week. The Warriors will remain in Southern California, and will play at Long Beach State on Saturday.
(Game photos courtesy Warren Haraki)
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