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UC Irvine holds off Warriors, 78-72

Fleming2_Osumi

Isaac Fleming scored 14 points off the bench, Garrett Nevels added 13 points and nine rebounds and Negus Webster-Chan and Stefan Jankovic each finished with 11 points tonight for Hawai’i but it wasn’t enough as visiting UC Irvine held on for a 78-72 Big West Conference men’s basketball victory.

A vocal crowd of 7,465 at the Stan Sheriff Center watched Roderick Bobbitt add 10 points and four assists as the Rainbow Warriors fell to 14-7 overall and 2-3 in the Big West. The defending regular season league champion Anteaters improved to 11-8, 4-1.

UC irvine led, 63-50, midway through the second half after Luke Nelson’s 3-pointer, but UH clawed back to eventually close the deficit to two points three times past the seven-minute mark. Aaron Valdes then closed it to 71-70 with a 3-pointer from the left corner with 1:39 remaining, but Alex Young answered with his own 3-pointer from the right wing 19 seconds later to push the lead back to 74-70.

Jankovic sank two free throws with 59 seconds left to cut it to 74-72, but Will Davis II glided in for short bank shot at 41.3 seconds to put the Anteaters ahead, 76-72. Jankovic then missed a 25-foot attempt from the right wing and Young was fouled after the ensuing rebound. He sank two free throws to push the lead to 78-72, and Valdes missed a long-range attempt on UH’s final possession.

UC Irvine led, 42-34, at halftime after Jaron Martin’s 27-foot rainbow swished through the net two seconds before the horn. Hawai’i had led, 8-7, despite missing 10 of its first 11 shots, but the Anteaters responded with an 10-0 run to lead, 18-7, as the Rainbow Warriors continued to struggle from the field. They had missed eight of nine shots before Bobbitt stroked a 3-pointer at the 11:57 mark, at which point UH was a measly 4 of 22 (18 percent) from the field.

A 3-pointer by Webster-Chan closed it to 22-18 with 9:45 remaining, but UC Irvne pushed the lead to 27-20 with seven minutes left and Valdes, the Rainbow Warriors’ leading scorer, picked up his third foul at that point and sat out the rest of the first half.

Hawai’i did put together a 7-0 sparked by Bobbitt’s 3-pointer and Fleming’s putback and baseline jumper to close it to 30-29 at the four-minute mark, but Martin drained back-to-back 3-pointers — including the long-range bomb with two seconds left — to put the Anteaters ahead, 42-34, at the break.

The Warriors are scheduled to depart Honolulu next Tuesday for a two-week Big West road trip.

More details, including video highlights and interviews, will be posted later.

(Game photo courtesy Matt Osumi)

3 Comments

  1. The GOOD: Despite recent thumb surgery, Nevels really shined tonight. The team had some solid defensive moments and made a lot of key steals.

    The BAD: Poor shot selection, unforced turnovers, rushed plays ended up making the difference in this one.

    The UGLY: Irvine couldn’t miss from 3 point land…that Martin guard hit some dogsh*t shots that also turned out to be the difference when UH couldn’t get any closer than a 1 point. The ref’s all seemed to have a hard-on for Irvine so it seems as though nothing was going to stop them from pulling off the upset.

    Overall, I’d say UH for the most part put up a respectable fight, and in the end Irvine shot an uncharacteristically high percentage from 3. They miss even one of those and it’s all UH’s game. With the next 4 games on the road, UH is looking to be quite a longshot to finish top 4 in the season but we’ll just have to wait and see.

  2. IsaacM…good observations…

    UH very young team bwc play…you have 5 garrett nevels in game uh mbb pulls away wins by 10..
    the scout is there..coaches on top of it…uh mbb cannot hit 40 % from field come up short..
    silver lining? Many naysayers after gib and akana fired and fotu went pro..reyes hurt transferred..uh mbb would not win 9 games all year..well they are at 14-7..2-3 in bwc play with two week on road and 4 games before coming back to ssc mid feb.
    go 2-2 on road, come back 4-5..with 7 more games, could uh mbb go 5-2 down strech before bwc tournament..I think so..team never lost 2 games in a row this season..now they can learn from 5 tough bwc games and start to close out games
    to a man they are family …they are not giving up
    goal still win tournament and go to ncaa dance
    I have feeling they get smarter , hit shots and stay together they will be this year’s poly..really great team..uh admin try to sink mbb..benjy and the guys won’t let them do it!!

    11 more bwc games to go ..7-4:goal end regular season ready for bwc tourney…9-7..
    Young team just shhot better , fight harder , be smarter, they going to dance, long as we fans don’t give up

    Mbb team WI fan nation..learn from 3 losses and go and pick up 3 wins on road..business..prove aysayers wrong
    go bows !!
    🙂
    We got your backs
    don’ t give up!!
    Just ask the 1994 trevor ruffinn led wac tourney champs and ncaa dance invitees!
    Warrior time!!

  3. Bottom line: I think Coach Benjy and Coaching staff will have to develop a winning strategy against each team we will face in the tournament. First. And who knows, maybe they will have Mamadou Ndiaye for the next games. We have the pieces. Let’s regroup.

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