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UPDATED: Warriors upset top seed UC Davis to reach title game

UH defeats UC Davis

ANAHEIM, Calif. — October sure seems like a long time ago, doesn’t it?

What could have become a season of doom has suddenly become the season of boom for the University of Hawai’i basketball team. Boom, as in a loud, unexpected noise.

The Warriors continued to do just that by shocking No. 1 seed UC Davis, 65-58, in an exhilarating semifinal game of the Big West Conference Tournament at the Honda Center on Friday.

Hawai’i, which is the No. 5 seed for the eight-team tournament, will play No. 3 seed UC Irvine for the Big West Tournament championship on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. (Hawai’i time). The winner of the championship game will receive the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Championship Tournament. It will be televised live on ESPN2 (Oceanic channels 224 and 1224).

“People have doubted us all year,” head coach Benjy Taylor said. “No matter who we play, we’re just going to try to give 40 good minutes of basketball. We’re healthy now, we’re better now, and we’re playing our best basketball of the year.”

The Warriors improved to 22-12 overall, and will be playing for a conference championship for the first time since 2002, when they won the Western Athletic Conference title. The 2002 team finished 27-5, and was also the last UH squad to win as many as 22 games in a season.

Fleming3_Flores

“We started off trying to make this a season everyone would remember, and so far it’s been exactly that,” Taylor said.

Defense has been the Warriors’ trademark during this surprising season, and that is what carried them past the Aggies in the semifinal contest.

Aaron Valdes got a huge blocked shot to preserve a two-point lead with 41 seconds remaining, then Negus Webster-Chan got a steal 15 seconds later to help secure the win.

With the Warriors holding a tenuous 58-56 lead in the final minute, UCD star guard Corey Hawkins drove in for a mid-range jumper, but Valdes swooped in and blocked it with his fingertips.

“I just saw him coming down the lane and I didn’t know if he was going to pass or shoot,” Valdes said. “I saw him forming up for a shot so I just tried to jump as high as I could to block it and luckily I was able to get a piece.”

Balanced offense has also been a key this season, and this latest win was a prime example. Junior point guard Roderick Bobbitt led the way with 14 points and six assists. Freshman guard Isaac Fleming added 13 points and four assists; Valdes scored 12 and hauled in five rebounds; senior guard Garrett Nevels had seven points and a game-high eight rebounds; sophomore forward Stefan Jankovic contributed seven points and five rebounds; Webster-Chan had six points.

Quincy Smith, Stefan Jovanovic and Mike Thomas added two points each, meaning that all nine Warriors who saw action contributed in the points and rebounds categories.

“With all that we’ve been through from the beginning of the season, people didn’t even expect us to do what we have done,” Bobbitt said. “I know this is a shock to the world. We do it for Hawai’i. Our fan base is crazy. They came to support us out here and we just want to put on a show for our state.”

UH defeats UC Davis

UCD has a 25-6 record, and was 15-2 against Big West competition prior to Friday. The Warriors are the only team to beat the Aggies twice this season.

“When we got everyone healthy, we’re really good,” Bobbitt said. “We were really pumped up for this game because it was kind of like a tie-breaker, and just to get to the championship as well. I think we matched up with them pretty well and we fought hard tonight.”

The Warriors shot just 42.3 percent (22 for 52) from the field, but held the Aggies to 40.4 percent (19 for 47). Hawai’i also out-rebounded UCD, 36-30, despite going with a five-guard lineup for key stretches of the second half.

“We just don’t quit,” senior captain Nevels said. “We fight through adversity. It’s nothing new to us. We want it more.”

The Warriors raced to an 11-2 lead to open the game, as Nevels, Webster-Chan and Jankovic each hit a 3-pointer in the opening minutes.

Hawai’i increased the lead to 22-9 with 10:53 remaining in the first half, but managed to score just four points the rest of the half. UCD out-scored the Warriors 14-4 in the final 10 minutes of the first half, and Hawai’i took a 26-23 lead at intermission.

The Aggies finally caught the Warriors with 15:38 remaining in the second half when Avery Johnson scored on a three-point play to tie the score at 32.

A driving dunk off a crafty assist from Fleming capped a 7-0 run by Hawai’i that put the Warriors ahead, 48-40, with 7:53 remaining. The Warriors increased the lead to 54-44 after Webster-Chan drained a 3-pointer from the corner with 4:57 remaining.

UH defeats UC Davis

Hawai’i was up by 11 when the Aggies responded with an 11-0 run to tie the score at 56 with 1:58 remaining. Hawkins hit back-to-back 3-pointers to highlight the surge, but Fleming put the Warriors back on top with two clutch free throws with 1:40 remaining.

“Big-time players make big-time plays,” Fleming said. “I didn’t come this far to give up.”

Valdes’ block came on the next UCD possession, and he later drained two free throws with 32 seconds remaining to give the Warriors a 60-56 lead. Webster-Chan’s steal came on the next UCD possession, and Bobbitt followed that with two more free throws to give the Warriors an insurmountable 62-56 lead with 26 seconds left.

UCD head coach Jim Les said of Valdes’ block: “When Corey gets in the paint and shoots his floater … that’s a money shot and I’ll live and die with that one. Hawai’i made a heck of a play and caught the ball. When (Valdes) blocked it, it was well on its way to the basket, not to say that it was goal-tending. It was an unbelievably athletic play.”

The Warriors will have to be at their best again on Saturday against a UC Irvine team that beat Hawai’i twice this season. The Anteaters (20-12) beat UC Santa Barbara, 72-63 in overtime, in Friday’s second semifinal.

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

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Friday’s Semifinal Results
No. 5 Hawai’i 65, UC Davis 58
No. 3 UC Irvine 72, No. 2 UC Santa Barbara 63 (OT)

Saturday’s Championship Schedule
Women: No. 1 Hawai’i vs. No. 2 CSUN, noon (Hawai’i time); live on Fox Sports Prime Ticket
Men: No. 3 UC Irvine vs. No. 5 Hawai’i, 5:30 p.m. (Hawai’i time); live on ESPN2

21 Comments

  1. Champions already , for winning, Jackson W. yes they won more than 9 games, and they qualified for tournament, and without your support, more criticism.. with high character, they have chance to ncaa dance.

    Bows. Warriors.. We All So Proud.. and Papa Bear, Benjy Taylor, thankyou for taking the fans and the team on the High Road to 22 and maybe many more wins.

    Just hope , admin, chancellor interim, BOR or power that be, get that multi year contract for you in place so you can recruit those 2 JC additions, and make this team Power house for next 2 to 3 years in BWC !!

    No matter what happens. win or Lose against Irvine, we be cheering you all on.

    AND UH MBB TEAM.. AWESOME.. we All So Proud of you 14 representing the 808 !!

    🙂

  2. HUGE MAHALO to Dayton Morinaga, Schmidt Ohana, Valerie Schmidt, Ameriprise, Pacific Risk Solutions support, for Still The Best Video coverage and forum of all things Warrior MBB ..

    Thankyou in behalf of scores of True MBB fans !!

    Aloha and Mahalo plenty !!
    I has been a great season.. Overcoming Adversity.

    UH MBB , and WI.. True Champions..
    🙂

  3. It IS CHAMPIONSHIP DAY!

    1) NA WAHINE OR CSUN (Defending Champions)
    Lost by 7 @ CSUN Without Team MVP Shawna-Lei Kuehu
    Beat ‘Em by 15 with Shawna during this 15/16-game WIN Streak
    I actually think, like yesterday, that watching and supporting Na Wahine
    Empowers The Men as well, Gets their minds Focused and Right (Kulia Pono)

    2) ‘BOW WARRIORS OR Irvine Anteaters (ZOT! NOT!)
    Would Be First-Ever Big West Championship for Either Team
    Irvine and UCSB, the Only Teams to Beat UH Twice this season,
    They Struggled against each other into Overtime
    FEELS Like we woulda Beat Either Down the Stretch In Regulation
    I Think We Will Need The BEST Possible From OUR BIGS
    SO, Jankovic and Jovanovic, Mike Thomas, even Negus and Aaron Need to Play BIG and Smart
    The BIGGER our Small-BIGS Can Play, The Better…Rebounding, Scoring and Stealing, Helping to Harass and Defend the UCI Bigs Can/Will Make the Difference…Nevels, Bobbitt, Fleming, Quincy (Aaron and Negus) all showed how well they can influence, even control a game in last night’s semi-final win…
    GO ‘BOWS ! ZAP ! ZOT! Zowie! the Anteaters… We’ll Back You Up Tryin’ to Out-Shout their Zealous Fans
    WHILE You Elevate Yourselves As KINGS of the BWC COURT
    Re-Watching Yesterday’s WIN Over UC-DAVIS (Nice of Prime to Delay the Game)
    This Team Looks Like a BWC Team of Destiny…

    WIN Today and You Get a Chance for Another ‘First’
    First NCAA Tourney Win
    Not Trying to Get Ahead of Ourselves,
    But That IS The Prize…
    Play Another Week
    In The NCAAs like Janks and Negus were talkin’ about before they even enrolled here…
    THAT WILL Take All Your Best Games TODAY…
    Quit Missing So Many ‘Stupid’ Threes
    Plant Those Legs, FLY and Finish Those Shots (you missed only yesterday)
    (I Think) It WILL Take Even More
    And, I, For One,
    YOU, For Another Nine,
    Think You Got It…
    Like Dayton Pointed Out — Because That Effort IS SIGNIFICANT and Unusual —
    Every One in the Game Rebounded AND Scored
    It Will Probably Take That Kind of Effort And Results
    GO ‘BOWS!
    KULIA PONO
    FINISH STRONG!
    AS CHAMPIONS

  4. I believe hawaii will be
    Dancing tonight.we are going
    To the ncaa’s.this team is
    Hot and hungry.i will be
    Watching tonight.lets go
    Warriors.my prediction
    Hawaii 71-64.

  5. Rest assured there will be more Hawaii fans than Northridge or UC Irvine and we will be the loudest. Wahine and Warriors to victory. Let’s cheer them on today. !

  6. Let’s Go Bows! Let’s Go Bows! Let’s Go Bows!

  7. Everyone please go to staradvertiser website and vote on the poll question of whether Benjy Taylor should be made permanent head coach, rather than interim. Let’s give him our overwhelming support.
    http://www.staradvertiser.com

    Amazing that both UH teams are playing in championship games today. More amazing if both teams win their games.
    Go Bows & Wahine !!

  8. Saw Corey Hawkins at breakfast this morning complimented on how hard he plays. Wished him well in the pros and told him he and his teammates played like Warriors to the end. He thanked me and appreciated the comments. The young man has class and enjoyed watching his play the past few years. His dad is Hersey Hawkins former nba player. You know what time it is its Warrior time !!!!

  9. Leave it all on the court….GO WARRIORS!

  10. Only one week ago,UC Davis smashed Irvine 80-61 . Earlier in the season, on Feb. 5, they beat Irvine 75-56, also by 19 pts. They must had the formula for success vs. Irvine.

  11. ” … must have had “

  12. What a breath of fresh air. Hawaii playing in a championship game this afternoon. I just love to watch this team play. They got so much energy and they play with a passion to win. Well, I’ll go buy my poke and assorted beverages and look forward to the game later today.
    GO WARRIORS!!!

  13. Enough can’t be said of the Schmidt chana’s sponsorship of this blog and, of course, Dayton’s tireless efforts to keep everyone informed and entertained. So, thank you.

    And, for those who missed Valerie’s polite but passionate “reminder” on the previous post, please read it and take it to heart.

    Whatever the outcome today there can be no argument that this team far exceeded preseason expectations. And for that, they also deserve out mahalo.

    Two UH teams to The Dance? Wouldn’t that be special.

  14. CHAMPIONSHIP GAME DAY! Irvine swept us during conference play so today it’s PAY BACK time! Team, continue to play as a team, be patient, hustle, play with heart…regardless of what happens, at the end of the day we’re proud of how far you’ve come and all the adversity you’ve overcome. To me, this WARRIOR team seems destined for greatness.

    Finally all healthy, finally playing together and finally fulfilling their potential. This team is awe-inspiring and just plain amazing. 40 minutes away from dancing…almost there boys!

    Let’s go WAHINE!

    LET’S GO BOWS!!!!!

  15. It’s always better to give up a two than 3. Will Davis and Ndiaye will get their points. Gotta stop Young, Nelson, and Souza. Defense intensity, get steals, stay out of foul trouble, and shoot the ball a good percentage. As usual, the guards will control it, but Jankovic needs a big game and I hope a nice surprise, Mike Thomas comes up with some big buckets. Let’s pray.

  16. Mahalo, Dayton, Schmidt ‘Ohana, Supporters
    Laura, Benjy and Staffs, Players, even UH ATHLETIC Admin…

    TWO TEAMS IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP IS SPECIAL…

    MAYBE … “SOON” We Will Be “Spoilt”
    Or Raise Our Expectations to the Point
    That BOTH Teams in the Championship Game is “Ho Hum”

    BUT The Last Time WE Could Seriously Think or Talk Like That Our Coaches had Near or More Than 300 Wins with Names Like Riley & Goo …It Was MORE Than a Decade Ago AND Many Still Didn’t Appreciate Them…

    I Consider Myself A Bit of a Fair-Weather Fan…
    Because IT HURTS So Much, Every Loss, I Feel i Can Barely Stand It and
    Maybe Family and Friends shouidn’t have to put up with so much Gloom and Depression (me)…

    THIS Has ALL The Feel –maybe Better — of being in the Stands, and Rain and Mud @ San Jose Spartan Stadium watching Dick Tomey kicking our butt, Beating COLT and Company By TWO Touchdowns with Four Minutes left in the game — Most in the Stands were depressed, the undefeated season was coming to an end — Someone stood up and asked the section, “What DO YOU Expect a Heismann Trophy Candidate Quarterback to do in this situation ?” — they Brightened and RE-Started Cheering — and Colt Led the Football Team to the Overtime Victory, the likes of which Tomey still has trouble believing today…

    When Hawai’i was up by 2, by 4, by 11(!) yesterday, then Hawkins and Ritchart Nail Three Threes in less than a minute 20 seconds on an 11-0 run to Tie, i could feel The Pain and Agony welling up in the Hawai’i Section,… because unlike me, to THEIR Credit these Travelling Fans — to quote #1 IN THE COUNTRY STEALS AND #1 BWC ASSISTS Bobbitt: “We do it for Hawai’i, Our Fan Base is Crazy…” have been here ‘Every Year’ suffering years of Agony… BUT These Players ARE Special, They Appreciate and LOVE and Respect their Fans As Much As Themselves — and That Chemistry IS Special…
    Maybe in a Way “? ONLY Hawai’i ?” Can Understand — there were 3-5000 Fans at The Wahine Senior Night Last Week and Most STAYED for The Ha’a, Haka, Haku and Hula… I Swear The Four Senior Wahine had More Lei (Each) Than i have EVER Seen for Any One Anywhere …Many of those fans ARE here Today… for The Men and The Women…
    The Former Outsider Now Kama’aina Laura told The National Media, Unless you lived there, You probably cannot come close to comprehending How Much these athletic teams Affect The WHOLE STATE of Hawai’i…

    AND I Expect (Know) BOTH TEAMS Are Playin’ Their Hearts Out…

    And MAYBE Just Like The Beach on Thursday and Davis on Friday —
    THEIR Fans went Silent, They Were Mystified —
    ByThe Crazies(?), The Passion from Hawai’i…
    March 14, 2015 Might Be One of Those Days To Remember…
    The Beginning of The Dominance?
    As Coach Laura would say, “Making Memories that Last a Lifetime…”
    For the Long-Suffering,
    KULIA PONO
    IMUA NA WAHINE!
    GO ‘BOWS!
    WIN Championships!
    FINISH STRONG!

  17. BTW, That ‘should’ mean UH Men’s Basketball Coaches — Jamie Smith and Company — should be studying HOW Davis handled IRVINE, besides shooting Lights Out…

  18. What are the UH players and coaches saying/ chanting at about 2:04 of this video ? “We’re going to the ____ ____ ”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ewYGAJDh5TQ&feature=youtu.be

  19. Islandman ~

    It’s “We going to the ‘ship” from a movie called Hardball.

    The original clip is probably on YouTube.

    Go Wahine/Rainbow Warriors!

  20. Yes….short for “championship” game..

    We going to the ‘ship!

    Hey…guys are champions win or lose

    Hey Bernie…yes the star hawaii news poll yes or no make benjy next permanent head coach
    so far overwhelming Yes votes..

    Valerie Scmidt and clyde thankyou for kind reminders..we have to respect young and old fans viewing forum by our comments..

    One sure fire way to moderate vulgar inappropriate comments or actions?
    Make this site 15.00 per month secured payed forum..
    however we appreciate schmidt sponsorship..

    Just a few , maybe one or two on forum..I don’t know..just want to be devil’s advocate
    I give up on live and die for bows..at my age..bad for health

    Just have to share opinions, not calling out
    since this site , team, coaching staff, recruits and team ohana view our posts

    One “fan” will just steal my moniker and mimic me..that is okay,,childish
    …that uh mbb got 22 wins and made it to the “ship”
    Championship
    as servante, and mid range game alluded to…anymore victories..gravy

    Better feeling..overcoming horrible circumstances ..
    they have overcome!!
    Mahalo for reminders ..keep civil forum,
    Mahalo Valerie !!
    And I would pay for sit subscription..
    🙂

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