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UPDATED: Warriors get revenge with breakthrough win at Cal Poly

Consider the Cal Poly curse cured for the University of Hawai’i basketball team.

The Warriors relied on disciplined defense and a career-high 18 points from sophomore forward Mike Thomas in a thrilling 59-56 victory over Cal Poly on Thursday at San Luis Obispo, Calif. A crowd of 2,876 at Mott Athletics Center watched the Warriors win at Cal Poly for the first time after three previous losses.

“We had to play totally different tonight,” head coach Benjy Taylor said. “We had to execute offensively and defensively in the half-court against a really good team. And we had to do it in an environment where we never won before. We did all that, so that makes this a really big win.”

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Hawai’i improved to 16-8 overall and is now in sole possession of fourth place in the Big West Conference at 4-4. The Warriors are now an impressive 8-0 following a loss this season. Cal Poly dropped to 10-11 and 3-6.

Roderick Bobbitt made a free throw to give Hawai’i a 59-56 lead with 15 seconds remaining, but he missed the second free throw. Cal Poly grabbed the rebound and worked the ball upcourt without calling a timeout. Ridge Shipley missed an off-balance 3-pointer just before the final horn sounded.

“We defended that,” Taylor said. “Yeah, we missed some free throws and made some turnovers down the stretch, but we made plays to win it, too.”

The Hawai’i victory also avenged a 61-57 overtime loss to Cal Poly last month at the Stan Sheriff Center.

“This team continues to accept challenges,” Taylor said. “We talked about getting better and doing things different from the last game, and we stayed with it.”

Thomas led the way with 18 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the field and 6 of 10 on free throws. He also grabbed four rebounds and blocked three shots.

He was the only Hawai’i player to score in double-figures, but there were several other key contributions. Stefan Jovanovic had eight points and six rebounds; Aaron Valdes had eight points and five rebounds; Isaac Fleming scored eight points on 4-of-7 shooting; Garrett Nevels hit two crucial 3-pointers in the second half and finished with six points and four rebounds; Bobbitt contributed five points, five rebounds and four assists.

Bobbitt had just one of the team’s seven steals, but Taylor was actually upbeat about that statistic.

“We won without having to get a hundred steals,” Taylor said. “We just sat down and guarded those guys all game long. It’s not an easy thing to do against a team like Cal Poly, so I’m really proud of these kids.”

Cal Poly shot just 28.3 percent from the field, the lowest percentage by a Hawai’i opponent this season. However, the Mustangs kept it close by going 11 for 23 (47.8 percent) from 3-point range. From inside the arc, they were 4 for 30 (13.3 percent).

In an odd contrast, Hawai’i went 2 for 13 from 3-point range (15.4 percent), but 22 for 36 (61.1 percent) from inside the arc. The Warriors finished at 49.0 percent overall, and out-scored the Mustangs 40-8 on “points in the paint.”

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Of particular note, Cal Poly big man Brian Bennett finished with six points and three rebounds. He had 20 points and eight boards in the win at Hawai’i last month.

“I challenged our bigs all week long,” Taylor said. “I challenged them so much, they got mad at me. But they did the job tonight.”

Hawai’i opened the game with a 7-0 run, but Cal Poly got back in it with a barrage of 3-pointers. The Mustangs hit seven 3s during a nine-minute stretch of the first half, and eventually took a 28-26 lead at intermission.

The game stayed close throughout the second half, with the lead changing seven times. Hawai’i took the lead for good at 48-47 on a short jump shot by Jovanovic with just under seven minutes remaining.

Hawai’i had a 56-53 lead when Cal Poly had a chance to tie after Michael Bolden was fouled on a 3-point attempt, but he made just two of the three free throws. Bobbitt then scored on a driving layup on the next possession to give the Warriors a 58-55 advantage with 1:10 remaining.

Sophomore forward Stefan Jankovic, who had started the previous five games, finished with four points and two rebounds in nine minutes off the bench. Taylor said a combination of factors kept Jankovic out of the starting lineup and on the bench for most of the game.

“Janks didn’t take care of some responsibilities he was supposed to take care of, so I wasn’t going to start him,” Taylor said. “But he also wasn’t feeling well for most of the week, and then Mike (Thomas) got in a good rhythm so we were OK. To win this game with Janks playing only a few minutes is big, too, because we’re going to need him.”

Reese Morgan led Cal Poly with 16 points, and Shipley added 12.

The Warriors will remain in California, and will conclude their four-game road trip at UC Santa Barbara on Saturday (5 p.m. Hawai’i time). The Gauchos (10-11 overall, 3-4 Big West) did not play on Thursday.

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(WarriorInsider.com file photos courtesy Brandon Flores)

Thursday’s Big West Results
Hawai’i 59, Cal Poly 56
Cal State Fullerton 69, CSUN 53
Long Beach State 68, UC Riverside 63
UC Davis 75, UC Irvine 56

Saturday’s Big West Games
UC Irvine at Long Beach State
UC Riverside at Cal State Fullerton
Hawai’i at UC Santa Barbara, 5 p.m. (Hawai’i time)
UC Davis at CSUN

20 Comments

  1. Good win, still have to have Bobbitt settle down, watch fouls, and keep cool, really great half court defense this Poly win, and of course AV and RB hit all their FT’s not as nerve wracking. Hey, .. a win is a win, is a win, especially for many who thought UH would struggle to win 9 or 10 games all year.. The Sports Animals, said if BT and MBB team , for the YEAR won 15, BT should be considered as a coach of the year type, well He WAS the Mid Major Coach Hugh Durham Award for Fall of 2014..

    Anyways, guys, I don’t know if you read our posts…sorry about The NOISE and OTHER stuff, You all do well in school, listen to coaches, and your parents , and Learn, as Coach Taylor says, Learn from A win.. You guys did it, by not going after 20 steals, sat down in man or zone, a lot of good man, and beat Poly at their own game, heck if they missed half dozen of their 3’s, their only source of keeping game close, you guys would have won by 10..However GREAT WIN..

    WE LOVE YOU GUYS… And Benjy.. Heck of a job coaching and managing MBB team.. Great, great job, keep it going.
    We look forward to the ESPNU national battle against UCSB.. have to get that one.. go for it.. Great D and rebounding, and scoring in the paint.. You guys can win

    Go Bows !
    🙂

  2. And Rod, great great Defensive on ball pressure, really sets the tone for whole team.. Good job !!
    Great work and Win.. wins !! G, Q, AV, MT, Janks, Stef, Dyrbe, Isaac Fleming, NWC, Niko, and Rob Bobbitt… Start a winning streak against UCSB.. break the 8-0 string after loss, rather start a 2-0 streak to be continued at SSC next week.. Either way, You all Are Warriors.
    And you are making a whole UH MBB Rainbow Warrior Nation proud !!
    🙂

  3. Glad to hear about Janks situation too, he on board, Family, hope get things taken cared of .. going to need you Big Guy for this stretch run into March !!

  4. GREAT WIN ‘BOWS!

    a 2-1 Road Trip — You Even HAD a 12-point Lead in The Loss —
    Winning in TWO Places NO UHMBB Team has Before
    Paradigm-Shaking…
    The IMMEDIATE Opportunity
    Saturday’s Opportumity
    Is to Stamp in The BWC’s Understanding / Group-Mind That THIS UH Team
    Can Go into a ‘Respected’ Team’s Backyard and Take ‘Em
    UCSB has had Respect from Early Pre-Season

    Elevate Perceptions
    Start Setting Them ALL Up to EXPECT That WE, UH, WILL BE
    Not Just ‘Dangerous’, BUT WILL BE (COUNT on it — Already Bought My Tickets)
    READY TO END Everyone Else’s NCAA Tourney Run…

    Reflection: ‘Bows! You Out-Executed a Good, ‘Proven’ [NCAA Tourney Game-Winning Team – MORE Than ALL UH Teams’ History], AND A Real Good Coach; Shut Down The Wild Cards that factored into CP stealing the Win @ Our Place…Looking Forward, KNOW That this Bellichick-SABAN-Type Coach AIMS for The BWC Tourney — Last Year, They Beat Teams in The Tourney that took them by 10-20 points in the second round of the regular season — i have ‘NO Doubt’ You CAN Shut Down, At :Least ‘Control’, their ‘three-game’ like you did for the Last Seven Minutes, and Keep the Bennetts from re-emerging as a Factor,,,
    GET ‘EM In ROUND THREE…
    FINISH STRONG!

    ———-

    [WI.com Request – Can “WE” reinstitute The ‘Detail’ of Flagging the Home Team in Reporting Scores?
    Seems most of The Industry/Country has given it up — i suspect to minimize mis-information — But i Know Our Guys will Get It Right…Then EASIER to Flag w/o cross-checking, that UC-Davis 75 @ UC Irvine 56 is the only other Road Team to WIN Last Night…Either Way, Mahalo!]

  5. Janks had food poisoning, per today’s article by the mainland writer.

  6. Thanks for the viewer tips from yesterday. I was able to watch the replay after I got home last night.

    This was a great win for the team. Big Mike Thomas showed the kind of game some of us talked about him since last year with him taking slower guys to the rack and finishing. A lot of other guys didnt have good games but came through clutch late in the game like Nevels knocking down those 3s and Bobbitt diving for that loose ball at the end and even Negus got a huge rebound and putback.

    That is the sign of a true team believing in each other and they did it with Janks only in for 9 minutes. Janks have to take care of his responsibilities like Benjy says and everything will be good!

  7. I wasn’t expecting a win so last night’s game was a really nice surprise.

    At first, I didn’t think this 2-week road trip would have very many positives to it. But now I think it’s been good for the team to be out of town while all of the NCAA sanctions and Gib Arnold stuff has blown up. They haven’t had to see everything on TV, hear everything on radio and read the papers. They can just isolate themselves, circle the wagons, and play for each other.

    I hope they come back from this road trip more unified and focused. Ever since Gib came on board, they’ve kind of faded at this point in the season. Maybe this year will be different.

    If they can get the road win at UCSB on Saturday, they have a chance to get on a real roll with Riverside and Fullerton coming to town next week.

  8. Nice win…

    The goal for the remainder of the season is to stay in the top 5 of conference. This win goes a long way towards that. The reason why the top 5 is critical is that you avoid having to play UC Davis, Long Beach, or Irvine in the 1st round of the BW Tournament.

    UC Davis has been the surprise, but UH has beaten them at home and it appears to be a favorable matchup for UH.

    UC Irvine is just skirting by with their size. They are the toughest team to prep for in the Big West just because their style is slow and they have a couple complimentary pieces to their bigs (however un-athletic they are). UH played a hidieous offensive game and still nearly won. If UH shoots half-way decent, they’ll probably beat UCI.

    Long Beach is the dangerous team UH hopefully can avoid in the tournament. They have a style and athleticism that is probably the toughest matchup for UH.

  9. Fleming does a good job in that if he’s not hitting his outside shots, he goes inside. Roderick too went inside.
    They seemed to have less charging calls for this game compared to the previous game and most stayed out of foul trouble. Thomas had only one foul called on him.
    ——————————————————-

    Big West women have a different format for their tournament, ln that the top two seeded teams get double byes, the next two seeds get one bye. The men’s tournament doesn’t have any byes.

  10. Amazing win in light of all that’s been going on around here. They are true warriors!

  11. When Thomas doesn’t get into foul trouble, usually early, he can be a very big contributor. UH can’t win with him playing only 7 to 8 minutes because of foul trouble. He’s got to play at least 20 minutes or more. If so, he’s one of the big keys for this team. I’m very happy for him to have a big day yesterday. I’m sure he’s happy for himself too, hehe!

  12. Hawaii just might be becoming, one of…actually I think it Was Poly.. if not The Best Defensive Team in Big West., from that frenetic full court trap and jump passing lanes steal team, to Half Court, Defenders, Grind out, Those are the teams, along with excellent, Half Court, layups, and drawing some fouls, that can win Conference Tournaments,.. just keep it going guys..

    Up to this point.. for myself and thousands of others, Team is going above and beyond the call.. just taking it to another notch.. down 2 key bigs, .. departed.. They Find a Way to win..
    NWC.. That was A HUGE tip in of a missed shot in the last few minutes.. the Bobbitt dive for loose ball. at end, G Money’s huge 3 pointers, MT’s all around good game, Fleming running the point, and slash and score, And Jovanovich. playing like A BIG MAN..just a great win.

    Go Bows.. All out.. and I think another Grind out game.. Get UCSB and Alan Williams, very sure, if he is cleared.. Williams will play… however.. UH, some games, Nevels steps up., then Bobbitt, then Fleming, MT, AV, Jovanovich, Janks.. NWC.. he will bust out too, he was steady on defense too..UH becoming a team..

    Benjy and staff , parents and ohana following team on the road in Cali,.. thankyou for supporting the Bows in the Golden State.. shoots, UH wins at UCSB.. maybe, UH MBB will stay in Cali for awhile.. just joking.. The deserve a standing Ovation for next week’s games at SSC arena !!

  13. And Quincy , when he not in foul trouble, difference maker too on Defense, and that energy.
    Go Q !! He all about the WIN… as are the TEAM..

  14. HUGE WIN! Got to keep the momentum going like the Wahine. We’ll need Jovanovic and MT to come up big against Big Al.

  15. I agree with servante that this win was tougher mentally for these guys than we realize. Benjy and the players doing a good job of saying the right things or no things about the NCAA but you just know it actually is a distraction. I bet all the friends and relatives of the players calling and texting them non stop asking them if they know whats going on. That gotta be distracting after a while.

    This team they really are true Warriors and deserve our support no matter what happens with the NCAA and the bumblers and fumblers in UH administration.

  16. Chuck.. most amazing UH MBB season, I can remember, in the midst of adversity.. To Win, and beat some good teams, and to keep on getting off the mat, and Win.. Now have chance to get some big wins over next 8 games BWC.. Benjy and team, just keep fighting, they are so focused.. UH MBB fans.. over 40 years watching.. This IS ONE SPECIAL TEAM..
    UH owes it to this group.. Take care of them, and the current staff.. would not doubt if that is what they are doing behind the scenes.. because,.. SSC fans, and we old and newbies, falling in love with this group of guys.. And their Ohana.,..learn, mature, fight on, do well, and that is All Team is focused on.,. others, would drop heads, or give up.. NOT THIS TEAM…NEVER.. they will fight, and UH should and probably is going to make sure they are okay.. Good group.. very good young guys and excellent job by Benjy and Staff..National attention again, if UH makes March run.. I am thinking , they CAN AND WILL do it.. just keep winning.. At SSC,, make sure you give them a Standing Ovation, Benjy and Team, DESERVE IT, the support Big Time

    Go Bows.. and UH, take care of Benjy and the Bows !!
    🙂
    2 weeks in Cali, Good, Wise decision.. maybe they stay in Cali for rest of Season? Just joking, we Want to see them in FINAL 4 SSC home games.. and send Garrett Nevels off with a booom!
    Team still has potential to play a lot more games into March.

  17. They ensured at least a .500 regular season record, including non-conference games, but that’s not all that they are working for. At the beginning, some said they would be happy with that and doubted they could attain it.

  18. Mike Thomas is the epitome of a student-athlete so it was nice to see him have a career-high in such an important game.

    Speaking of doubt: I recall Wheeler — after Thomas sparked the exhibition win over HPU — say, in his inimitable (and sometimes irritating) way, something to the effect that UH “would be in trouble” if it had to depend on Thomas for his scoring. Touche, Jackson.

  19. clyde: .

    MT was a 3 star I believe out of HS.. kind of had to grow into player he is today..clyde, really a Key PG senior grad transferred to Mizzou, a PF elite went pro,…a strong Body.. in Reyes, hurt and supposed to have transferred to JC in Florida..

    Team just moves on and Wins.. Incredible..Season, eventually, who knows how far team can go..Only they know.. and they are still getting, or working on getting better, that CSUN and Poly wins.. That is the way to play..to win on road, at home and in the BWC tournament.. LOVE THIS TEAM..

    ..hmmmm, really Jackson? He said Jovanovich, or not much about … Stef…and Stef Jovanovich,, 8 huge points , blocked shot , and some KEY rebounds to help UH get win..
    well , let the hoop talkers talk.. it just motivates team even more.

    Very very proud of coach and the Team !!
    🙂
    what will Jackson say Next? and UH goes and wins a lot in March .. wow !!
    (JW.. just kidding 🙂 ….)

  20. Win one, lose one, win one, lose one, win one, ????? Will the pattern end this Saturday?

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