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UPDATED: Warriors fall at home to Long Beach State

Slicing and dicing their way through Hawai’i’s one-step-too-slow defense, Long Beach State guards Mike Caffey and A.J. Spencer scored a career-high 29 and 24 points, respectively, to help the visiting 49ers hold off the Warriors, 92-83, in Big West Conference men’s basketball action Thursday night.

An energetic crowd of 6,201 at the Stan Sheriff Center watched UH’s three-game win streak snapped as the Warriors fell to 14-6 overall, 3-3 in the Big West. The 49ers improved to 8-12, 4-2. The game was for a share of first place, as Long Beach State moved into a three-way tie atop the Big West, while the Warriors dropped to fifth.

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“I think that game can pretty much be wrapped up in one number, and that’s 60 — to let a team shoot 60 percent against you, you’re not going to win many games,” UH coach Gib Arnold said. “Eighty-three points is enough to win a game, we’ve been able to score all year, it wasn’t that side of the ball. It was 60 percent, and it was both
halves. We never quite got (into) a rhythm defensively, we never could get them out of doing what they were doing.”

Caffey, a 6-foot junior, made 10 of 14 field goals — many on acrobatic layups — and 8 of 11 free throws. He also finished with five rebounds, three assists and three steals.

“Give Mike Caffey a whole bunch of credit, I think he took over the game and I thought he was the best guard out there tonight, he actually destroyed our guards. He took it right to us and did what he had to do to win.”

The 49ers entered the game ranked last in the Big West in field goal percentage at .401, but they shot 60 percent in each half, and its final percentage of .600 was a season high.

David Samuels broke a 72-72 tie by tipping in Tyler Lamb’s missed layup with 3:46 remaining, and Lamb extended the lead to 76-72 by making two free throws with 3:16 left. Caffey later pushed the lead to 79-74 on a 3-pointer with 2:23 remaining, and Lamb’s floater put Long Beach State up, 81-74, with 1:42 left.

The Warriors could not get closer than five points the rest of the way as Spencer drained a baseline leaner after a loose ball scramble to make it 85-78 with 56 seconds remaining.

“That was a back-breaker,” said Hawai’i reserve guard Quincy Smith, who scored 11 points and made three assists in 23 minutes off the bench. “We just didn’t come ready to play. We didn’t play our style, we didn’t play our game, we didn’t guard. They got a lot of easy shots. Two guards scored 29 and 24, and that’s not our game — we don’t give up big numbers to those kind of guys. It was just mental; we just didn’t come ready to play.”

Garrett Nevels and Christian Standhardinger led the Warriors with 18 points each, with Standhardinger adding nine rebounds. Isaac Fotu finished with 16 points on 8-of-9 shooting from the field, and Brandon Spearman contributed 14 points, five rebounds and four assists for the Warriors. Keith Shamburger led UH with seven assists, but scored just five points on 2-of-10 shooting.

Long Beach State led, 44-43, at halftime despite second-leading scorer Lamb (16.1 points per game) playing only four minutes due to drawing two fouls in the first seven minutes. But Caffey and Spencer more than picked up the slack, scoring 11 and nine points, respectively, in the first 20 minutes.

“They got past our guards all night, they were in the key the entire night,” Arnold said. “We had a real tough time staying in front of them. You have two guys who play like that … we just couldn’t contain them. They kept coming at us, and we didn’t have an answer for them.”

Hawai’i led 42-36 with 2:32 remaining after Nevels’ spectacular alley-oop slam dunk off Shamburger’s lob, but the 49ers ended the half with an 8-1 run capped by Kris Gulley’s 10-foot jumper with 35 seconds left.

Long Beach State then began the second half with an 8-0 run in the first three minutes, culminating in Caffey’s two free throws to make it 52-43, but the Warriors responded and eventually tied it at 59-59 on a 3-pointer by Nevels with 12:24 remaining.

The 49ers grabbed a 70-66 lead after Spencer’s three-point play with 5:57 left, but UH answered with back-to-back 3-pointers by Standhardinger to take its last lead at 72-70 at the five-minute mark.

That lead lasted only 12 seconds, as Caffey sank two free throws to tie it with 4:48 remaining, and then Samuels’ putback gave Long Beach State the lead for good at 74-72 one minute later.

Spencer, who entered the game averaging 8.3 points per game, made 8 of 10 field goals and was 7-for-7 from the line.

Arnold said the Warriors have another tough defensive challenge Saturday against Cal State Northridge, but their task is laid out for them.

“We’re gonna guard,” Arnold said. “We’re gonna get out there and guard. We’re not going to let people penetrate and get to the rim on us, it’s not going to happen. We’re gonna find guys who can get out there and stop penetration. That’s what hurt us today.

“Northridge is a very similar team. The two most athletic teams in the conference are Long Beach and Northridge, so we got another team that penetrates — even I think better than Long Beach. So we gotta really get out and stop penetration.”

Spearman promised as much.

“We’ll bounce back, I’m not worried,” said Spearman, who also had five rebounds, four assists and two steals. “It’s just one game … we’ll bounce back on Saturday.”

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Thursday’s Big West results
Long Beach State 92, Hawai’i 83
UC Santa Barbara 80, UC Irvine 60
UC Davis 62, Cal Poly 58
Cal State Northridge 93, UC Riverside 89 (OT)

Current Big West records
Long Beach State 4-2
UC Irvine 4-2
UC Santa Barbara 4-2
Cal Poly 4-3
Hawai’i 3-3
Cal State Northridge 3-4
Cal State Fullerton 2-3
UC Davis 2-4
UC Riverside 2-5

13 Comments

  1. next time we challenge the beach I would like to see a little Triangle and Two Defense mixed in.

  2. UCI and LBSU have exposed a weakness in the UH defense. The initial help rotations are slow and are nearly non-existent on the 2nd help rotation. Lots of layups/dunks and uncontested drives to the paint the past 2 games. UCI shot 55% and LBSU shot 60% FGs. Those are really bad numbers.

    I didn’t get to watch the LBSU game last night, but from what I saw vs UCI, the on-ball defender isn’t doing a great job at funnelling the ball handler to the help. The breakdown wasn’t so much the initial help, it was the secondary rotation after the ball gets kicked out and the next player drives to the paint. Then when the defender helps, he leaves a wide open player for a shot or layup.

    UH does not have a rim protecting shot blocker. UCI and LBSU challenged UH in the paint and came away very successfully.

    I’m not sure what Gib’s defensive philosophy is regarding dribble penetration. Usually there’s 2 strategies… If you have a good shot blocker, you can funnel the dribbler to him to force the player to alter the shot. The other strategy is to force dribble drives to the baseline, using the baseline as an extra defender or force the ball behind the backboard, where there’s no room for a shot.

    The idea behind both strategies are to force the ball handler in one predictable direction so the help defenders can effectively help. If the dribbler is going all different directions, the help defense is scrambling and will lose track of players after a couple cycles through the offense.

  3. The one big break UH got yesterday was that UCI lost again, so the BW standings are really bunched up at the top. Even with the loss, UH is only 1 game back.

    UH cannot afford to lose another home game the rest of the way if they want to win the regular season title and NIT berth. Regarding the Big Dance, it’s all on the BW tournament because nobody from the Big West has a resume that would even sniff an at-large bid.

  4. Former UH Athlete:
    UH can score, everyone knows, one of the tops in country, average about 83 pts + a game, however, you are right, and we knew it, from start of season, even with pressure defense, when the other teams, would get into their half court offenses, UH, allowed a lot of guys to go to rim, …50-60% shooting by other teams, on UH home court not good, that is why LBSU won, UH not able to get defensive stops. UH does not have that rim protector, athletic, couple of , shot blockers, they have to play TEAM defense, Gib will have to go back to drawing board, sometimes, I think he and staff peak into our observations, and makes tweaks, however, he cannot, play D for the guys. Can teach it though. Spearman, really physical D leader, wish All 5 starters, play with that intensity. Now, it falls, on team, however, Coach Arnold too, figure out the defensive half court schemes, since they don’t have that last line of defense Big, maybe next year? One thing good, UH has 6 more home games, and they have proven they can win on the road, 4 more road games, so they still have a shot, this team bounces back, all season, look for a much better effort on defense, get several key stops, we all know UH can score, maybe Christian, don’t rely on 3 ball , too much, just go up strong with ball too.

  5. Defense disappeared last night, very disappointing loss, maybe a zone defense could have been used to some extent as Long Beach kept penetrating an got easy baskets, which is how they got 60% for the game, totally unacceptable, Warriors need to regroup and play angry on Saturday night. We all have to come in force and pack the SSC , cant let Northridge steal a game in our House!

  6. Actually, hoopsa, Christian shot pretty well from 3 line, stretches, defenses, if he can hit a couple a game, along with driving to the basket, the athletic bigs down low, give him trouble, however, he is still relentless, has to keep his emotions in check.

    Team is mad. after the game jawing at each other, where is the D? They want to win bad, they will be back. Gib, if have to start Aaron Valdes, Quincy Smith, or Rozitis, anyone to lockdown defensively, so UH can get out to, and hold leads and win, that is the key for rest of season, UH can score, can they hold guys down, shutdown D , which Gib teams were known for in previous 3 years.
    UH get the win, and things will look good again. Hey, the last place teams in BWC are only 2 games, out of top 2 spots, this league is up for grabs, still 10 more regular season games to go, UH goes out , gets 8 or 9 wins out of that last 10, pretty good shape heading into tournament in Anaheim.
    IT ALL BEGINS WITH OUTSTANDING D. especially guarding the paint, NO ONE GETS layins or dunks, or floaters, have to hold teams down to 40% or less FG%

  7. Makes you wonder, does Gib have to press all night long? Maybe, soft pressure, bringing ball up, then match up zone, mix up defenses, whatever works to get stops, then after made baskets, press. Pretty sure, today, the assignment, whomever, will lockdown on D, will start and first rotation of bench.
    DEFENSE wins games, and championships, as so many here, have stated!

  8. Could the team have tired legs. From 2 game road swing. Keith hip flexor injury. Fotu, “rested” a practice fatigued? One week ago, the guys played with so much energy, on offense and defense.

    I believe as winbows, hoopsa say, they will get it back. The energy to play good defense again. With that Zone too. Get Jovanovich and Rozitis, to play hard, guard basket use 10 fouls.

    Probably, this is a major growing up part for team, a learn from loss…. A winnable game, until last inside 2 minutes. Captains step up. Leaders step up. All 14 guys on roster step up. Just takes a good win against Northridge this Saturday night!

    Uhfanzonly1.

  9. @uhfanzonly1, legs tired as well as the rest of the body. shouldn’t be such a problem if bench players were subbed in to relieve starting 5. UH has the bench players that can contribute.
    As previous posts have stated need scoring from bench players?? Bench players need minutes to produce.

  10. its not a fatigue thing….the beach is just super athletic

  11. The starting 5 had such a great game against UC Irvine that the coaching staff thought they could duplicate it again. But you know what? They are only humans and after that tremendous game with Irvine it probably sucked some of the wind out of their sails and they haven’t recovered yet. I think now is the time that Gib needs to seriously consider playing the bench. You just can’t keep relying on the same 5 guys all the time. When they are rested and healthy I’d say yes give them maximum minutes. But in conference play every game is close and there won’t be too many blowouts where the starters can be rested. The big 5 might be ready on Saturday. But if they seem a bit slow Gib needs to go the bench early and often.

  12. marley:
    agree with you, I thought from beginning of season, Valdes was filling in well for Spearman. Aaron, make a mistake, and he is out, Gib has to give a little leeway..He was defending, rebounding, providing energy. Same with Rozitis, Smith(who actually was used a lot), Thomas( he is still learning DI game), now Jovanovich. And why marley, does not Gib use Zone. remember, a long time ago now, AC Carter led UH teams, Wallace had them playing that active matchup zone, guys out on shooters, and AC and Alika, Micah Kroeger played passing lanes got a lot of steals, and prevented guys from coming into paint, with Sundberg, Furlong, Mike Robinson, Erin Galloway, to block shots.

    Gib, has to , with staff, put in whomever will defend for 40 minutes. In conference play, UH is averaging over 84 pts a game, however, they are have given up near 80 pts to opponents including 86 pts to Irvine and 92 pts to LBSU.
    Actually UH lets other teams score too easily it seems..Defense, you cannot have 5 or 6 guys playing all out D for 40 minutes, that is hard. In the past Gib has tried subbing 5 for 5, have to give bench guys time, get ready for BWC tournament.
    By the way, UH has to win as many games as possible, of course shoot for top 3, only the top 8 make it to Anaheim. Gib, work that second 4, Valdes, Jovanovich, Smith, Enos, Rozitis, etc, use, Zone, use the whole roster, now is the time to do it.

    However, bottom line fans, this BWC , so much parity, from top to bottom, UH still not out of it, just have to play way better defense, guarding the perimeter, and protecting the bucket, they can score, however, if Gib uses 7 guys or 13 guys, they have to stop, the other team. UH practices, should be all Defense for now, get back to basics, whomever the top 8 or 9 ,can move feet and defend will play. we know they can score the points.
    After a disappointing loss, we fans, want team to win as badly as Coach and players, we feel the pain too!
    Get the W’s guys! and as marley says, : Coach use the bench, I think he will, maybe even a few new starters!

  13. The phrase “this loss hurt” is a severe understatement. Where’s the ‘D’?? Non-existent, not even swiss cheese, that’d have been nice. How the hell does a 40% team come in here and shoot 60%??? Part of it is luck, I’m sure…those 2 guards probably had their best game of the season, perhaps even their college careers. A loss to Northridge would be nothing less than a crushing blow. Also, Shamburger was off, any night he shoots 2 for 10 I don’t see us winning many.

    Coach Gib, that’s great you have much faith in our starters but the bench needs minutes as well. Lately, it seems like when they finally see some floor time, they get nervous and overthink it and turn it over. They need to really get their feet wet to where they’re comfortable and not feeling like they’re walking on egg shells.

    Keys to beating Northridge tomorrow: it all starts with Shamburger, he has to be an inside/outside threat to keep the defense honest; lock down d, rotate on the weak sides fast, establish a presence in the middle and shut ’em down. Need to rebound better, there’s no excuse for getting outrebounded against LBSU. Lastly, need to get some turnovers. Lots of pressure, get them off their game, score some steals and convert. I wouldn’t be typing all of these things if I didn’t feel like they were capable of them.

    In any case, very much looking forward to tomorrow night. Always a true fan until the end. I have faith in these guys and they’re still a ton of fun to watch. Let’s go BOWS!!!

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