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UPDATED: Warriors rally to thrilling win over Omaha

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Getting technical with the game on the line, the Hawai’i men’s basketball team squeezed past Omaha, 77-73, Friday night to close out a highly successful non-conference season.

Keith Shamburger sank two technical free throws with 53.1 seconds remaining for the go-ahead points and Christian Standhardinger immediately added a free throw as the Warriors took a 74-72 lead — their first since seven minutes into the game. Shamburger later came up with a loose ball rebound and made one of two free throws with 13.6 seconds left, and Garrett Nevels sealed the victory with two free throws six seconds later.

A tense crowd of 6,128 at the Stan Sheriff Center watched Isaac Fotu score a season-high 26 points and grab seven rebounds, Nevels add 12 points and Shamburger and Standhardinger (10 rebounds) each finish with 10 points as the Warriors improved to 11-3 with their fourth consecutive win. The Mavericks fell to 10-5.

It is the best start to a season for Hawai’i since the 2003-04 team (with Michael Kuebler, Julian Sensley, Haim Shimonovich and Phil Martin) opened with a 14-3 record.

“This was a win that was hard to earn,” said Shamburger, who scored all 10 of his points in the second half and added three assists and three steals. “We had three big stops in the last three minutes, we proved we could play defense. But this is how it’s going to be in the last three games (of the Big West Conference Tournament). Nobody wants to lose, and we’re gonna have to get stops to win games.”

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Omaha led by nine, 65-56, after two free throws by Caleb Steffensmeier with 7:44 remaining, but Quincy Smith squeezed through for a baseline drive from the left side to start a 9-2 run capped by Fotu’s three-point play to close it to 67-65 with 4:30 left. Fotu then cut it to 69-68 by making one of two free throws with 2:55 remaining, but Justin Simmons answered with a reverse layup 40 seconds later.

The teams traded free throws and then Standhardinger closed it to 72-71 on a layup with 1:37 left. After the Mavericks turned it over on their next possession, Standhardinger was fouled on a layup attempt and Omaha forward Mike Rostampour (nine points, 11 rebounds) pulled on Standhardinger’s jersey after the whistle, drawing a technical foul, his fifth personal.

Shamburger knocked down the two technical free throws, and Standhardinger made the first of his two ensuing free throws.

“On film, we saw that No. 5 (Rostampour) and No. 44 (John Karhoff) push a lot and use their elbows,” Shamburger said. “Coach (Gib Arnold) said eventually they would crack, and they did, and we got two easy free throws.”

Arnold said the game’s tight score and tense, physical play lent itself to emotion.

“Our guys are emotional, too, and sometimes it spills over and can be a bad thing,” Arnold said. “But I’m pleased with our guys tonight that in an emotional, physical game, they kept their cool.”

Omaha missed a short leaner on its next possession and Shamburger came up with the loose ball rebound with 13.6 seconds left, was fouled and then sank one of two free throws to make it 75-72. Devin Patterson made one of two free throws to cut it to 75-73 with 9.9 ticks remaining, but Nevels grabbed the rebound on the second attempt and sealed the victory with two free throws with 7.5 seconds remaining to make it 77-73.

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“Give (the Mavericks) credit — they’re a really good team,” Arnold said. “I was a little nervous about them on film, and they turned out to be just as good in person.”

Foul trouble plagued Hawai’i in the first half, as Fotu picked up two fouls and reserve center Davis Rozitis was whistled for three in the first 10 minutes and both were forced to the bench. Freshman center Stefan Jovanovic came in for a rare appearance and immediately contributed with two mid-range jumpers, but Rostampour sank two free throws to break a 22-22 tie with 7:13 remaining and the Mavericks kept the lead, eventually going up, 36-30, on Alex Phillips’ 3-pointer with 1:43 left.

Aaron Valdes slammed home a putback with 42 seconds remaining to close it to 36-32, where it stood at halftime.

Fotu played only seven minutes in the first half and scored just four points, but when the second half started, the Warriors made a concerted effort to pump up those numbers.

“We made it an emphasis to go inside to Fotu,” Shamburger said. “When you got a guy as good as that, you gotta give him the ball in the block.”

Fotu, who broke his right (shooting) hand against New Orleans on Nov. 27 and had been playing with it heavily wrapped until last night, opened the second half with a slam dunk and followed it with two free throws and then a spin move and layup for a three-point play to cut Omaha’s lead to 40-39. He later scored on a trademark spin move and a left-handed hook shot and had 15 points in the first nine minutes of the second half.

“We were 2 for 16 from 3-point range and never had a good rhythm offensively, but then Fotu started to take over and I called his number every time,” Arnold said. “He had the hot hand, and he delivered. I love it when he has that fire in his eyes and wants the ball like that.”

Fotu, who still had his middle and ring fingers taped together as a precaution, said he felt a new freedom without the heavy bandage.

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“It felt much better,” Fotu said.

Still, the Mavericks seemed to have an answer every time UH got close.

After Shamburger made a steal and layup to close it to 58-56 with 9:57 remaining, Karhoff (15 points, four rebounds) knocked down two free throws to start Omaha on a 7-0 run capped by Steffensmeier’s free throws that gave the Mavericks their biggest lead at 65-56.

But Arnold said the Warriors’ deep rotation — 11 players saw action — helped them maintain enough energy to come back.

“We played 11 guys, and we needed every single guy tonight,” Arnold said. “I thought we had fresher legs in the last five minutes.”

Arnold said Jovanovic, who had not played since the New Orleans game on Nov. 27, proved his worth by scoring six points with one block and one rebound in four minutes of first-half post relief.

“That was big,” Arnold said. “He had been playing well in practice, so when we got into some foul trouble in the first half, we said let’s go with him. He came in and got an offensive rebound, then knocked down the jumper … Good for him. That’s what we need from him, to be ready when called on. I’ll feel much more confident putting him in the next time we need him.”

After a weekend of rest, the Warriors will begin preparation for the 16-game Big West season, starting with the opener at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo on Jan. 9.

“This was a bit of a wake-up call for us, but it will prepare us a lot going into conference,” Fotu said.

The 11-3 record is UH’s best start since the 2003-04 team went 14-3 out of the gates, but Shamburger said the Warriors are far from being satisfied.

“We want as many wins as we can get,” Shamburger said. “We’re greedy when it comes to wins.”

(Game photos courtesy Brandon Flores / www.brandonfloresphotography.com)

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16 Comments

  1. Play together , stay as ONE OHANA together, on O and D, shoot well, take care of the ball, and think SWEEP on the road trip, Either way,, come out with at least one, however I know you guys and coaches, WANT TWO, and BWC title, plus NCAA invite, or NIT.

    Go Bows!!
    Keep getting better, day to day, practice to practice, game to game, and championship to dance!
    ๐Ÿ˜€

  2. Defense kept us in the game and determination and steady nerve allowed us to win. Omaha was a good team and was the closes I have seen to our style of play. Kudos to the reserves that came in. They will get better and become an important part of our game plan. Looking forward to Poly, it should be a really tough game but coming off this win should help us a lot mentally to prepare for it.

    And now a peeve of mine. A few years ago I got a hold of ADA’s office to complain about the ball boys who, if they were there, would just throw the towel down and use their foot to clean the sweat off the court. This was after a game that one of our players could have been seriously hurt. Finally I just went out and ordered a cleaner that could be pushed around by them. It arrived, I was charged, and it disappeared into the athletic department never to be seen on game day. Their current solution seems to be have the ref, a player or grad assistance do the towel work. The last few games have demonstrated once again the dangers of this and have even gotten people talking about it again. If you want to do a service for our team and player safety, I would encourage you to let the athletic department know they have to take care of this problem.

  3. Whew…
    2013 Finished in a Flourish
    2014 Begins with a Resounding Bang
    ‘Boom’ to Christian and The Edge of Feistiness
    and to UNO Crossing the Line with a Thud

    As Shamburger, says, “Really Had to EARN This WIN…”
    To Have So Many Prime Time Stops,
    As GOOD as Omaha IS
    To Hold UH @ bay for Most of the game,
    and All but the Last Minute of The Second Half
    Then Have So Much Moxy,
    Tenacity, True TENACIOUS-D, When It Matters
    Intestinal Fortitude and Confidence
    To Overcome a Team That Good
    On a Night when the Shots Wouldn’t Drop through the Hoop
    We May Just Be Beginning to See
    How Good This Team Can Become

    Thanks to the Helpful Big West Schedulers
    We Can almost Immediately First Week (& Three Weeks)
    See IF They Can Carry This Toughness
    and Tenacity to ‘The Next Level’
    On The Road
    In Conference and
    Over The Long Haul

    In March, We’ll Learn IF they have developed the Depth and Consistency and
    CAN (Must) Play Like This Three Nights in a Row.
    With an Upper Winning Conference Record,
    Their First-Night Opponent Might Be More Desperate,
    But Won’t Be As Talented as Boise, St. Mary’s or Oregon State

    Didn’t Jovanovic play like he wanted to Qualify
    In Subbing as The Next ‘Davis’ ?
    Early Birthday Present?
    Happy Eleventh WIN Team
    Happy Eleventh Birthday, Hunter !

    (Mahalo Dayton, Wes, Brandon, WIStaff&Supporters, TheSchmidts and UHMBB Program)
    Sing & Shout Out to The Gibs & Scanlans: GREAT Singing & Harmonizing/Arranging

  4. Even with a sub par offensive game (except for Fotu) this team has so much confidence in themselves to come back from 9 down and get the win. I don’t know if the bandage Isaac had on before helped him to focus on his other skills and get better because of it. Now with the bandage off he has become nearly unstoppable even with the double team. It’s like the chains came off and we are seeing a breakout game or what? And on top of it they had tough defenders on him and he was still able to get his way. If Isaac plays with this kind of intensity every game he is going to be awfully hard to stop. And the scary part is he is only now starting to reach his full potential. When his turn around mid-range jumper starts working he will take over games. And who said we don’t have a go to guy. Pick and roll anyone?

  5. Actually a perhaps Good Thing that UH the first 4 out of 5 on the road. They can go 3-1, on road, sandwiched by SSC home win against Riverside, UH will be up on other teams, with a 4-1 record, then they have that 4 consecutive home games.

    Or as we all know , split or better on the road, and hold serve home court, and UH will be in position to win Regular and Conference Tournament title, either NIT or NCAA’s, we KNOW these guys, fantastic team, Want the Big Dance. Hope they get it.
    Been watching some games live, when can get off of work, and this team, that Defensive stops when they need it, or a steal, rebound, or someone getting hot from the field at the right time, all the ingredients of a good, and possibly Great team.
    Know their goals, are 20+ wins, and NIT or the Ultimate NCAA’s.
    One goal at a time, this week, think as hoops says, Sweep, or no less than split, and hopefully 6-7000 will come out to Stanley to see a potential 3-0 or 2-1 top tier team. These guys are special, a real team, not Vander’s team!

  6. Eagle and other die hard MBB fans, this year’s team surprisingly, could have been 13-1 or even 12-2, 11-3 is FANTASTIC. They can play with the top 100 power ranked teams. NMSU, Mizzou, Boise St., great mid western teams Western Michigan, Omaha, which was a DII school a few years ago, they are very, very good, Excellent, team.
    BWC teams will be ready for UH. However, Christian goes off for 31, 29, Nevels, 26, 24, 24, Isaac 26, Q 15 pts, early game, Shamburger 17, 10 assists, Enos, 9 pts on 3-3 three pointers, AV goes off in one half for 10 huge pts, putback slam with ailing , and very sore elbow, Stefan, my man, gets 6 huge points, the blocked shot, offensive board, hits a couple of FT’s, and affects winning, Thomas, makes some great assists to Fotu, Standhardinger, Spearman, he will get better, Spearman the Glue, the Heart and Soul, Captain Davis, or soon Dr. Rozitis? or PHD Rozitis of BB?So many guys step up, from 1 through 14, ..Don’t know if you read out posts Gib( by the way, great singing by wife daughter and Ms. Scanlan).
    Good Job Gib, you have brought in High Character, student athletes, who work hard, play smart and are together.
    Wish you the best in your chase, and capture of BWC title and BWC tourney championship, NIT or NCAA’s.
    Go Bows!

    Uhfanzonly1. Eagle, this team, they are a Good ONE OHANA!

  7. Great win… UH had to gut this one out.

    Fotu is completely unguardable 1on1 at the low block or mid post. All I can say is enjoy him while he’s here. He’s one of the best forwards UH has ever had.

    Need to give Shamburger a ton of credit for limiting Devon Patterson to only 9 points. Was watching Patterson in warm ups and was very impressed with his lift and shot fundamentals. Patterson only going 3-11 was really good work by Shamburger.

    Last comment… The refs were completely terrible. Hard to believe some of these refs actually get hired. The Omaha coach was way beyond his designated area and actually interfered with UH’s offense and the refs didn’t call anything.

  8. Thanks Warrior Insider Family for the birthday wishes for Hunter!

    Hunter and his friends got on the jumbo-tron in the final seconds of the game! They thought that was pretty cool too! What a fabulous win! ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. 1 through 5 are outstanding!!! It’s really pick ur poison for the other teams. Any of the starters could go for 20+ at any time which gives us an advantage against the many different styles of play in the BW. The bench is underrated I feel. Everyone who steps on the court makes positive contributions and that’s all u can ask for from these young guys. Besides Davis the bench is primarily freshman and sophs so that’s exciting for the future! I wish I could go to all the games but the 2 I attended both ended in closely contested losses (boise and nmsu). I refuse to jinx them anymore so I’ll just watch from home. Go warriors!

  10. GI — We Were There, Too — AS Well As The WHOLE Team…
    At Various Levels of Self-Discipline and Performance
    and Dis-Appointiedly, None Found That Extra Point or Two to Subdue Boise
    — i’m SURE At Least Three UH Guards Took Some Form of Personal Responsibility —
    MAYBE That’s Why they did Not Succumb to Omaha Or Anyone Since…

    i also heard much irritation and internal team uproar Post-New Mexico State —
    The Concept of: What Kind of Attitude it ‘Must Take’
    to Let TWO Opponents In-A-Row (Albeit One was Top 20 Missouri)
    declare ‘We Are the Better Team”?
    – a Weakness in the Previous Seven-Plus Years’ (4/5 In a Row Losing) Teams–
    And they have Not (yet) Allowed Two Errors/Flubs In-a-Row

    THAT Team that The Players Believe They ARE
    and We Hope to See in Wins and Post-Season Performance
    WILL Find Ways to Win
    like Against Omaha on a Horrendous Backcourt Shooting Night
    At The Other Guys’/Teams’ “High School Gym”
    AND @ The SSC
    Whether We Choose to Show Up As Cheering Energetic Bodies OR
    ? As 1-2,000+(?!) Choose EVERY Night ?
    Dressed/Disguised as Paid(?) QUIET Empty Seats
    For This Good, This Entertaining of a Team

    Right Before Our Own Eyes
    Watch THEM Learn & Improve As They Have Demonstrated
    And Even Earned Their Coaches’ Trust to Declare So Out Loud
    How They Work & Play So Hard That They’re Pretty Good Now
    And Really Should Be So Much Better
    In March

    Maybe they’re Learning to Channel and Apply
    Their Own ‘Inner Greediness’
    Whatever We Label Self- or Team-Serving Efforts, Goals & Results
    Challenge Them to Continue to Improve
    Come on Down…

    ONE ‘OHANA
    Ho’okahi No ‘Ohana
    GO ‘BOWS!

    Even IF they Can ‘Only’ Win Three or Four out of Five
    2014 LOOKIN’ Like a GREAT New Year!

  11. This road trip to Cal Poly and Northridge is a big test. Are the Rainbow Warriors, who have a lot of confidence, ready, to get tough wins, in front of crowds, smaller then 4800 -5000, the friendly Stanley Arena.
    What is it that is their Mantra? Fear No One, Respect Everyone. UH will , have to go into those smaller venues, though some have nice facilities, upgrades, and play as the underdog, shoot better, rebound better, get loose ball, scramble, protect ball, cherish each possession, and the road to Championships and Post Season big invites, DEFENSE, on the road, and timely scoring, and the guards helping team close out, games. UH can win, hopefully as all the fans, and coaches know, split at minmum, Sweep, better yet.
    This team, still working, and this Week’s first road swing, big test for the boys!

  12. If UH can go on the road all the way to Missouri with a big crowd and do fairly competitive, then I have to believe that going to California against conference opponents won’t be intimidating. It’s all about limiting turnovers, shooting a good percentage from the field and at the line, and playing solid defense. The Big West teams are beatable, as long a UH doesn’t play sloppy basketball. I’m confident with the guards that we have to control things.

  13. I think the Cali athletes, Nevels, Smith, Jawato, Jovanovich,Shamburger, Valdes,are eager to play in their home state. Jovanovich, having played at Bishop Montgomery. I think especially those guys will be anxious to be in front of some family ,fans and friends.
    Key, for me, how Isaac plays, sometimes, he gets really tired, or sick, on plane ride and sleeping in hotel rooms on the road. Christian, has shown, he can play at Mizzou, terriftic game, and last year’s Santa Barbara game, where he just went crazy.Will be a test against Alan Williams, however, winbow, as we know, ONE guy, can’t win or lose league games for the team, it takes ONE OHANA, all Fourteen, making contributions, either support vocally, or on the floor.
    Derek, how team travels, and mindset, to Defend, score well, take care of the rock, and finish as winbow says, UH could, get 2, would be awesome. ONE game at a time, get rest, hydrate, make sure all the guys have Flu shots, as jjay says, We live and die(not literally for new and old time UH fans) with the Bows, Warriors, so , here we go: GAME ON, get the W’s guys, and lead the BWC from the start!

    Go Bows!!
    ๐Ÿ˜€

  14. Sorry Mike T. I forgot you! Hope you have a great Cali road swing, your help relieving or even scoring, rebounding defending and dishing can help front court, wing. Mike T. really looks like a 3 trying to play a 4, however, he is a great talent, give him time, and he is growing, still..he will be a great player.

    So 7 guys who played ball in Cali JC, or HS, are returning to the Golden State, for these first 2 road games. Go get some wins, Garrett N., Q Smith, Brandon B Jawato, Stefan, super sub Jovanovich, Keith The General Shamburger, Mike T. the future 3 man, and AV Airon Valdes, Air Cuba!
    Go Bows!!
    ๐Ÿ˜€

  15. That 5-6 minute game time action by Stefan Jovanovich was key, affected winning! The shooting, rebound, and blocked shot, he fit in well, against those very physical 6’8″ twin forwards and that 6’7″ banger, That No. 5 for Omaha, if you watched the game, was throwing, or bumping guys with his okole out of the way, very physical, good that UH , even their smaller guards would not back down, that is why they got the win. And Stefan J, fit right in. Good he and Rozitis, can back up Fotu and Standhardinger, with AV and MT at the 3 spot, provides depth, and fouls to give.
    Nice to have another big, hope Stefan, keeps on working hard, and goes in, when needed and get the key rebound, blocked shot, basket or assist, steal to affect a win on the road!
    Go Bows!
    ๐Ÿ˜€

  16. Stefan looked good but lets not get too excited yet…getting game time experience right now will help down the road but limiting him to 2-3 mins/game is about right if needed

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