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UPDATED: Warriors beat the Beach to advance to semis

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — The public address announcer at the Honda Center mistakenly did not announce Garrett Nevels during the pre-game introductions of the starters. By the end of the University of Hawai’i basketball team’s thrilling 79-72 win over Long Beach State, everyone in the crowd knew who Garrett Nevels was.

He was the player who scored 17 points to lead the Warriors over the 49ers in a quarterfinal game of the Big West Conference Tournament.

“It feels great to win on the first day, but at the same time, we have to regain our focus and get ready for (Friday),” Nevels said. “We didn’t come here to win one game.”

Hawai’i has been in the Big West for three seasons, and this was its first victory in the tournament after two previous one-and-dones.

“I was just telling the guys right now, this is one of the best feelings right now, compared to last year when we lost in the first round,” sophomore Aaron Valdes said. “This is a big win for us … it’s exciting. We’re ready for (Friday), who ever we play.”

The Warriors, who are the No. 5 seed, improved to 21-12 overall with their second win over the No. 4 49ers. The last time a Hawai’i team won as many games in a season was the 2003-04 team. The Warriors will face top seed UC Davis in a semifinal game on Friday at 3:30 p.m. (Hawai’i time).

It will be shown live via the internet on ESPN3, and then delayed on television on ESPNU around 8 p.m. (Hawai’i time).

Nevels scored nine of his 17 points in the second half, and was the spirited leader of a Hawai’i rally from six points down with less than nine minutes remaining in the game.

“Everybody gave great effort – Stefan, Q, Mike, everybody contributed, everybody did their part,” Valdes said. “That’s what we needed, and we’re going to need the same thing.”

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Indeed, the Warriors once again got contributions from numerous players. Among them:

• Valdes scored all 14 of his points in the first half, when Hawai’i raced to a 47-41 lead at intermission. He shot 6 of 9 from the field, and also grabbed five rebounds.

• Freshman guard Isaac Fleming tallied 11 points, five rebounds and four assists. He also scored nine during the decisive second half.

• Junior guard Quincy Smith had a perfect shooting game – 4 for 4 from the field, 2 for 2 on free throws – and finished with 10 points. He also grabbed five rebounds, including a highlight-reel putback dunk in the first half.

• Junior point guard Roderick Bobbitt had six points, a team-high six rebounds, and three assists.

• Sophomore wing Negus Webster-Chan did not score, shooting 0 for 7, but he contributed in other ways. He went 4 for 4 on free throws, grabbed five rebounds, and passed for a team-high six assists with zero turnovers.

• Sophomore center Stefan Jovanovic had eight points in just 14 minutes before fouling out.

“Good teams have to find a way to win and we did that with scrappy defense, 50-50 balls and great finishes at the basked between (Nevels and Smith),” head coach Benjy Taylor said. “We just found a way to win tonight, and that’s important this time of year.”

The Warriors led by as many as 12 points in the first half, but trailed 64-58 with 8:59 remaining in the second half.

“We just stayed together out there,” Valdes said. “We were talking in the huddle, just have to stay poised and stay together. We knew they were going to make a run in the second half, we just had to keep our composure and I think we did that.”

The Warriors caught up with their dangerous full-court defense. The 49ers committed five of their 17 turnovers in the game’s final eight minutes.

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“It was good defense from everybody,” Bobbitt said. “We all fought as a team and it was a god W.”

The score was tied at 70 with 4:07 remaining, but Nevels put Hawai’i up for good a few seconds later with a floater driving down the lane. Smith then secured the win by scoring on driving layups on back-to-back possessions to give the Warriors a 76-71 lead with 2:48 remaining.

The 49ers went 0 for 4 from the field after that, and the Warriors walked off with the win.

The Warriors have been staying in nearby Fullerton since last Saturday, when it closed the regular season with a road win at Cal State Fullerton. The extra days of acclimation and preparation perhaps contributed to a fast start by the Warriors, as they raced to a 29-20 lead in the game’s first 10 minutes.

They increased the lead to as much as 45-33, but allowed the 49ers to stay within range after Eric McKnight scored on an alley-oop dunk just before the halftime buzzer to cut the Hawai’i lead to 47-41 at halftime.

The second half was close throughout, as the score was tied five different times.

Several Warriors were in foul trouble in the second half – namely, big men Jovanovic, Stefan Jankovic and Mike Thomas. The Warriors compensated by going “small” with five guard/wing players on the floor for key stretches of the second half.

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“We went with five guards down the stretch and defended them well,” Taylor said. “My five guards rebounded better than when I had the 6-11, 6-10 guys in there.”

The Warriors got out-rebounded, 42-31, but shot 51.7 percent from the field to Long Beach’s 37.0 percent.

All-Big West guard Mike Caffey led the 49ers with 27 points, though he shot 7 for 19 from the field and also committed six turnovers. Forward David Samuels added 19 points and 10 rebounds.

“I wasn’t discouraged at all,” Bobbitt said of Caffey’s production. “He got going early, and second half had six points or something like that. Just had to keep getting after him and try to make him get tired as much as possible … my teammates helped me do a great job in the second half.”

Caffey said: “They were aggressive. We were tentative. We weren’t attacking, we were scared of their press so it slowed us down.”

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

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Thursday’s Quarterfinal Results
No. 1 UC Davis 71, No. 8 CSUN 67
No. 5 Hawai’i 79, No. 4 Long Beach State 72
No. 3 UC Irvine 63, No. 6 UC Riverside 54
No. 2 UC Santa Barbara 54, No. 7 Cal Poly 50

Friday’s Semifinal Games
No. 1 UC Davis vs. No. 5 Hawai’i, 3:30 p.m. (Hawai’i time) – live internet coverage on ESPN3.com; delayed television broadcast on ESPNU around 8 p.m.
No. 2 UC Santa Barbara vs. No. 3 UC Irvine, 6 p.m.

18 Comments

  1. Great win…sign up benjy ..keep team together
    no matter what happens terrific season through adversity!!
    🙂
    Jeff and Jackon?
    wassup?

  2. Well just found out we play UC. Davis at 6:30 pm pst tomorrow nite. Neutral court going to be a war. UC Davis team staying at embassy suites here in Orange ca. I paid the cook that makes the omlets and pancakes to slip some ex lax into their food Yeah they going run tomorrow nite. All nite long.

  3. Let’s Go Bows! Let’s Go Bows! Let’s Go Bows!

  4. UC Davis vs Hawaii ….Anaheim Honda Center
    defense!! Team all eleven contribute..
    3:30 p.m. hst
    live online stream espn3 or espn watch app

  5. It’s a perfect match up for us. We beat Davis here and lost at Davis but were in it til the every end. On a neutral court, I like our chances and I see it a toss up. They have the better offense efficiency wise, we have the better defense, and I think the size match up and the quicknes favors us. They x-factor is UC Davis’ 3 point shooting. If we can hold them down from 3 to a reasonable level then I think we can win this game. We have to stay out of foul trouble, as Davis is a good shooting team. Like I said, if we shoot the ball pretty well too we’ve got a great shot. And the key again will be our guards.

    I hope UCSB and UC Irvine beat up each other. I rooting for Irvine as I think Santa Barbara is a better team.

  6. I read on the Scout board that something between Benjy and Jackson Wheeler happened that they cut the interview short. It was said that Jackson was giving his usual subtle jabs at the UH program and Bengy didn’t take it too well.
    Anyone can share more details? I think Jackson can say what he wants but being a former UH coach, this is a time when he should be helping to add some positive vibes so everyone can pull together and do the best that they can. He can always be more open with his comments at another time.

  7. Delayed ESPNU Telecast — “Almost” As Bad as OC-16 (At Least they SHOW It)…

    GO ‘BOWS!
    Rest of The Way
    EVERYBODY Bring Your BEST
    OUT-Shoot, Out-Pass, Out-Defend, Out-RUN UC-DAVIS
    (Then Irvine-UCSB)

    Win Again!
    GO ‘BOWS
    FINISH STRONG!

  8. BigFan: No did not hear that. Jackson, there obviously is bad blood between he and former staff, including current head. Benjy taking high road, he has really helped to keep MBB program alive, he would be the best choice to carry UH through whatever, and if anything heavy happens in future.

    What is with Jeff and Jackson…the true UH MBB fans, even the skeptical ones, are becoming fans of a team, that nobody gave a chance of winning maybe 10 games.. Jeff and Jackson, come on.. and Ferd too, what is the deal? Only thing we can do, probably thousands, even young gals and guys, newbie fans. like the effort, and really 21 wins and in the semis..that is an accomplishment, that Jeff and Jackson can never take away from Benjy Taylor and Benjy Ball by the Warriors.

    Even Benjy alluded to, on post game radio show with Bobby, he going to TRY and keep his team off of Social Media, with all the Negative People criticizing.. and also, NOT TO LISTEN TO HOOPSTALK..that is what I heard on the post game Radio Show.. He did them a favor, I don’t know why they even interviewed or called him in as guest for some spots.. even Bobby was tongue tied, when Benjy made that statement..espn 1420 co workers I guess.

    sheesh.. For all of the junk that Benjy and his team and program had to endure, Jeff and Jackson, Are they Really Fans of UH MBB and the program..NOT.. All Benjy and the Bows have to do. even if they lose in semifinals.. just give 100% effort.. the fans, several hundred, hopefully if the make it to Saturday, maybe a thousand Hawaii fans in Anaheim will , win or lose, No.. The are Winners in my book.. terrific, team, THE BEST.. through Adversity in UH MBB history… definite champions..

    Jackson, man either be positive, or don’t say anything at all.. constructive not destructive..sheesh !

  9. BigFan:

    I am glad that team stayed in Fullerton California and will be there hopefully until championship Saturday.. battling for that ncaa berth with wbb team too.
    Show tremendous sense of High Character by Benjy Taylor, no matter what was dumped on he and program and team.. he takes the high moral ground.. He is first class person, admits he is not perfect, is helping his team and ohana, and they have won over a lot of fans, and really accomplished what previous HC could not do in 4 previous years.. make it to semis of BWC tournament.

    Benjy Taylor, And UH TEAM if you are reading My Posts.. I think You all , all 14 of you Garrett, Quincy, Rod, Isaac, Dyrbe, Niko, Brandon, Mike, Negus, Stef, Janks, Aaron, Brocke and Zach are very special young student athletes who stayed the course, are reaping the rewards.. and the Real MBB fans. LOVE ALL OF YOU GUYS. and You Have a Terrific Coach.. papa Bear Benjy Taylor.

    And , Ferd, Jeff and Jackson, and Negative ones, in media, the more successful you all are in the classroom, in the community, with your ohana and friends and on the court and in future lives. You all Are Champions In My Book !! Been a fan of UH MBB for near 50 years.. Love Your Team, through all the adversity.. The Best.. hands down..

    Mahalo to your families too.. Thankyou to the Ohana of MBB team 2014-15 for allowing your sons to compete for this Very Special Season.. Thankyou from thousands of Positive and faithful fans.. new, old , young and some sadly infirmed.. wish them the best too !!

    Aloha Benjy Taylor and the Fantastic Fourteen, Rainbow Warriors. we got your backs.. we Backing The Bows.. Go Benjy Ball !!
    🙂

  10. They definitely read ur posts, Runbows. I heard it is required reading. Benjy makes it mandatory that the team read all ur posts first thing in the morning. Then they all sing kumbaya and thank the Lord for the “True Fan” of men’s bb, the one and only, all powerful RunBows!!! Somebody give me an “Amen”!

  11. eagle; — Supposed to be on ESPN3 at 3:30 pm, streaming. Also, Women’s game early at 9 am, on espn3 .

    http://espn.go.com/watchespn/index

  12. Great win considering UH got nothing out of Jankovic (foul trouble) and NWC (cold shooting). Even though NWC didn’t hit a FG, he supplied 6 assists. That’s how you can still be effective when you’re having an off night shooting. That shows me some maturity on the court. I love it.

    When Fleming plays under control and doesn’t get too rushed, he’s a fantastic player. It’s when he gets impatient is where he has issues. That should improve with more experience.

    When he wasn’t committing fouls, Jovanovic had a good offensive game with 8 pts in 14 minutes. He’s still got a ways to go in development, but he’s a solid contributor off the bench. He’s helped carry the load when things aren’t going well for the Bows. He picks up a cheap bucket here and there and is pretty good at drawing contact and getting to the FT line. He does have a nice touch. If he can get stronger this off season, he’s going to have a nice career at UH.

  13. Some preemptive thoughts on today’s match-up…according to Vegas, UH is currently a 2.5pt underdog (correct me if I’m wrong Servante) to UCD. Sounds about right, I think it will be a close game and it’s a good matchup for us. The only reason why we lost at their house is because Tyler Les had the game of his life (9 for 12 on 3’s), and they still barely squeaked by us. I know UCD is not happy to be playing us, as we are one of the two teams that beat them during conference play. And they didn’t exactly impress yesterday against CSUN, having to rally from what, 13 down? If you ask me, they’re on tilt while we’re picking up momentum. Even if UCD beats us today I dont’ see them beating UCSB, which is who I’m picking will be in the championship game. Oh, and you bet your @$$ I’m picking the Warrios to pull out the win today!

    KEYS TO GET THE WIN TODAY AND ADVANCE TO THE BIG WEST CHAMPIONSHIP:
    -Shut down Corey Hawkins and Josh Ritchart
    -Stay out of foul trouble
    -Make free throw’s
    -Guard the 3 point line

    LET’S GO BOWS!!!!!!!

  14. Right now focus on our teams and wish them well. We can talk about Portnoy and Wheeler for after the NCAA tournament. Like Donald Sutherland said, “we don’t need no negative vibes, woof, woof!

  15. FUHA

    Good observation on NWC with the 6 assists. A lot of people don’t realize that Negus is not a one dimensional player and you can’t judge a person’s night based solely on points. He might have an off shooting night but he is very reliable on defense, is a great passer, and decent rebounder. I’d say last night he had an overall C+ game. But he’s important in that lineup and he’ll have better shooting nights because he has such great shooting form, rarely rushes his shot, and cool under pressure.

  16. On Feb. 21, at UC Davis, Hawaii had a GREAT chance to win that game… but came up short for three main reasons:

    1. Fleming (OUT), Valdes (OUT), and Mike Thomas (OUT). NO WAY that happens again.

    2. Tyler Les (of UC Davis) shot 9 three-pointers… many of them wide open. Of course he was wide open… Hawaii was so short-handed in that game, our players were too exhausted to cover to the perimeter with their quick passing. NO WAY that happens again.

    3. Hawaii committed 20 turnovers. NO WAY that happens again.

    I hope that Feb. 21 victory gives UC Davis the FALSE IMPRESSION that they’re a better team than us… THEY DON’T KNOW WHAT’s COMING TONIGHT.

    Go Bows!

  17. DEFENSE…wins championships

  18. njacinto, all excellent points…if I was a UC Davis fan, I’d be very worried. I mentioned the 9 3’s by Tyler Les but I forgot how shorthanded we were. That had a direct correlation to our unusually high amount of turnovers. When players are rested up/not exhausted, we turn it over a lot less.

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