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UPDATED: Warriors rally past Fullerton in OT road thriller

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When the going got tough, Stefan Jankovic got going for the University of Hawai’i basketball team.

Jankovic sent the game to overtime with a 3-pointer in the closing seconds of regulation, then he out-scored the other team by himself in overtime as the Warriors rallied to beat Cal State Fullerton, 86-79, on Saturday at Fullerton, Calif.

A crowd of 993 at Titan Gym watched the Warriors rally from a four-point deficit in the closing seconds of regulation to increase their winning streak to seven. Hawai’i is now 15-2 overall, matching the start of the 2001-02 Hawai’i team that advanced to the NCAA Tournament. The Warriors also improved to 4-0 in the Big West Conference and remained tied for first place with UC Irvine.

Fullerton dropped to 8-8 and 1-2. Hawai’i is now 4-0 in Titan Gym against Fullerton since joining the Big West in the 2012-13 season.

“Really proud of our guys, that was unbelievable,” head coach Eran Ganot said in a post-game interview on ESPN 1420 radio. “I think one of those games you never forget.”

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The game was close throughout, with 13 ties and 10 lead changes. The last tie came at 72-72, after Jankovic drained a 3-pointer from the right wing off an assist from Roderick Bobbitt with 7.9 seconds remaining in the second half.

Hawai’i then took the lead for good by scoring the first four points of overtime on two free throws each from Jankovic and Isaac Fleming. Jankovic himself out-scored Fullerton, 8-7, in overtime.

“It was a tale of two halves – a defensive half and then an offensive half,” Ganot said. “Just proud of our composure down the stretch. We played right, we got the shots, we executed and were able to connect.”

Fleming scored a career-high 23 points while starting in place of injured Aaron Valdes. He shot 7 for 15 overall, 4 for 10 from 3-point range, and 5 for 5 on free throws. He also had five assists and played a career-high 41 minutes.

“It feels good because I’m sure a lot of people watching counted us out,” Fleming said. “They thought we were going to lose this game. I told my team, we’re a hell of a team, we just have to stay together, stick to the game plan, just grind this one out.”

Jankovic added 21 points, despite going scoreless in the first half. He shot 7 for 12 overall and 6 for 6 from the free throw line.

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Bobbitt added 14 points, six assists and three steals, and went 7 for 8 on free throws. Mike Thomas had five points and grabbed a team-high seven rebounds, and Sai Tummala contributed nine points, five rebounds and three assists off the bench.

The Warriors had their best game of the season at the free-throw line, converting 25 of 28 (86.2 percent). Most impressive, they went 12 for 12 from the line in the five-minute overtime period.

“Obviously in these close games, and its going to be that way in league … we’re building confidence on it,” Ganot said of the free throws. “It was clearly a point of emphasis early. The way we were shooting it was absurd. Credit the guys. Their go-to was to go back to work.”

The Warriors played without starting forward Valdes for the second consecutive game. The 6-foot-5 junior was on the bench with a walking boot on his right foot for a turf toe injury.

Ganot credited reserves Niko Filipovich and Sheriff Drammeh for providing valuable reserve minutes in the adjusted rotation. Filipovich contributed two points, one rebound and one assist; Drammeh had three points, one rebound and one assist.

“There’s two things – what we call next man up mentality, and its current guy steps up as well,” Ganot said. “Niko and Sheriff these last games on the road were critical for us to even have a chance to do what we did.”

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The Warriors fell behind, 8-2, at the start of the game, but then went on an 11-2 surge to take a 13-10 with 12:19 remaining in the first half. The game stayed close the rest of the way, and Hawai’i eventually took a 29-27 lead at intermission.

Fleming made a 3-pointer from the deep corner just before the shot clock expired to tie the score at 65 with 3:03 remaining. The Titans came right back and took a 67-65 lead on putback by Jamar Akoh with 2:33 remaining.

Fullerton had leads of 69-65 and 71-67 in the closing moments of regulation, but the Warriors refused to go away.

Tummala hit two free throws with 15 seconds remaining to cut the Fullerton lead to 71-69. Fullerton’s Kennedy Esume then went 1 for 2 from the free-throw line to make it 72-69.

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On Hawai’i’s ensuing possession, Bobbitt raced to the top of the key, then found Jankovic open to his right for the game-tying 3-pointer that forced overtime.

Jankovic (6 for 6), Fleming (2 for 2), Tummala (2 for 2) and Bobbitt (2 for 2) combined to make all the overtime free throws for the Warriors.

Khalil Ahmad led the Titans with 19 points. Leslie Lionheart, a 5-10 guard, added 17 points and 10 rebounds. Tre’ Coggins, who was averaging 18.5 points per game, was held to 13 points on 4-of-11 shooting. He fouled out late in the second half.

The Warriors are scheduled to return to Honolulu on Sunday. Their next game will be against UC Davis on Saturday, January 23, at the Stan Sheriff Center.

(Game photos courtesy Warren Haraki)

CLICK HERE to view boxscore

Saturday’s Big West Games
UC Irvine 61, at UC Santa Barbara 52
Hawai’i 86, at Cal State Fullerton 79 (OT)
at Cal Poly 96, Long Beach State 92 (2 OT)
UC Riverside 75, at CSUN 72

Screen shot 2016-01-16 at 8.49.18 PM

43 Comments

  1. Mental toughness is when you make all of your final 16 free-throw attempts. Nice, gutty conference win on the road.

  2. Good win…fullerton coach taylor with 8 guys available almost beat first place warriors.
    Gauchos, irvine, 49ers look like leaders in chase..
    Bigdaddy, yes we enjoy ride..zero very good guard! Thanks for sharing him wih Hawaii!
    🙂
    Isaac gamer deluxe, ceam rise to top!

  3. Cream, fleming and team rise to top!
    Hope aaron okay for tournament!!
    Go bows!
    North Carolna, thankyou too ! For..etc.

  4. Uhf1…. the returnees making plays, yes but also the NEW guys. Sheriff made a three to make it 58-57 with 6:39 left in the 2nd half, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 rebound. Sai had 9 pts, 5 rebounds, 3 assists in 17 minutes. Sai made a 3 pt shot to make it 55-49 and hit 2 FT’s with 15 secs left to make it closer at 69-71 and the 2 FT’s in OT with 41 seconds left to make it 84-79.

    Isaac kept us in the game with the four 3 pt shots in the 2nd half among other things and played the most minutes, 41. All the players contributed, plus Janks saved the day with his three.

  5. Isaac committed zero personal fouls.

  6. Guess we don’t have to harp about the “weak schedule” not preparing us for the road. How many road games did we play before we got to conference play? Good coaching eliminates excuses.

    Of course, the next fear is that Bobbitt is playing too many minutes. Yeah, as if he’s Kevin Garnett or something. He’s young, and only playing two games a week. Go worry about something else, Worriers.

  7. I am impressed by BWC coaches…they are great at making game plan.
    Every game for UH home or away, league so competitive, the games go down to wire..love it!!
    🙂
    Coaches Monson, Turner, fullerton’s Taylor, Poly coach dean of league..ganot…great janks ready and confident..

  8. Good win for coach & staff it’s all about team everybody contributed that’s what it takes to be Champs.

  9. 12 to 14 more games to go.. for ncaa dance
    Now with bottom teams so competitive, warriors still have to get better.. fullerton has some great guards!
    Bigdaddy, hope warriors win in anaheim! finish the run!!
    🙂

  10. Congrats to our Road Warriors!

  11. Uhfanzonly1 is senile and needs to calm down. From the sucking up to bigdaddy (seriously, its getting creepy), so the constant see sawing between whining about the coaches and preemptively calling a top 15 ranking…just stop, man. Isaac doesnt need you to be his cheerleader, you can give up on benjy, bigdaddy isnt even complaining half the time you’re trying to be his crying shoulder, and Isaac is doing well within what ganot wants him to do, not in spite of it. We arent going to just breeze past lbsu and others, and you need to calm down.

  12. It’s about time these close games goes UH’s way. These last 2 road games were pretty ugly, not the usual type of UH games prior. I really thought UH would lose this one and would have put the blame on Coach. The guards were struggling maybe in part of Fullerton’s defense and it’s guards seemingly outplaying UH’s. They attacked the hole as how UH did in the past. So many times the ball being kicked out to Drammeth who’s in the open but decides to pass the ball off, SHOOT it Drammeth! and make the zone defense PAY!

    Let’s Go Bows! Let’s Go Bows! Let’s Go Bows!

  13. Great Starts:
    Hawai’i And Irvine @ 4-0

    ‘Some’ Separation:
    Everyone Else Already with TWO (or more) Losses
    ALL Also Have At Least One Win (Unusual Balance)

    ——-

    The Other Warriors: UHMVB
    Continue the Charie Wade-Era Trend of Improving Both In-Match (So IF they can break-through to Wn One or Two Sets, They Often (Usually) CAN Win the Whole Match as they Improve their Strategies and Adjustments;
    And maybe because we are (have to be in order to minimize travel expenses) the Team that has to schedule (All or Most) Series as Dual (Back-to-Back) Matches, we’re also Very Good at making the Overnight Adjustments to Improve and Win / Advance and Progress;

    As they did the Last Two Days On the Road Versus #12-Ranked Pepperdine
    [PU Swept the First Match 3-0, UH Won the Second 3-1]

  14. eagle … as you may know, men’s basketball used to play back to back games at home vs the same opponent in the Rocha, O’Neil and part of the L Little days. Before that in Al Saake days, they even played back to back games against the same opponent on the mainland. That mostly stopped when UH joined the WAC.
    Women’s VB used to play at least some back to back games but the historical records don’t go back that far on the UH website.
    ————————————————————————————————————
    ESPN Commentators said the Fullerton zone defense bothered UH and also that our players looked gassed being on the mainland from Tuesday. Except for one player, i think they said, forgot who.

  15. WooooooooHooooooo! What a crazy win! Like coach said this conference is good from top to bottom.

    UH played ugly at times.. but a good team is a balanced team and UH does not give up! They don’t lose

    their composure!

    So many threats on this squad, and they did a great job on their free throws.

    Janks hit one of the biggest shots of his career!

    Way to finish Bows!! And shout out to all the fans who went to fullerton to support!

  16. Maybe you may have not noticed it but AUBURN yes Auburn upset Kentucky yesterday. Hawaii beat Auburn

  17. This is equally as memorable as on 1/25/2014, Shamburger’s “The bank is open for Irvine and Hawaii”.

    In which he enabled the Warriors to ate the Anteaters by 90-86 wot!

  18. Talk about not finishing. Santa Barbara led visiting UC Irvine by eight with 10:50 to play, but did not score thereafter as Irvine scored the game’s final 17 points for a 61-52 win. UCSB missed its final 12 field-goal attempts, and three free-throw attempts. Too bad, Hawaii could have used the help in the standings.

  19. Like the saying goes it’s not how you start but how you finish. This team knows how to win cause they refuse to lose.

  20. I think Fullerton will end up fourth in conference ahead of SBSU. They played some tough teams in preconference, even beating Nevada. Great road win for UH!

  21. eagle:

    Ditto. League very balanced, although we are happy with win .on the road hard to do…the bottom teams, ALL have at least one win.. CSUN.. who are not eligible for Post Season, even the BWC tournament.. that is a scary team, led by Quincy’s brother Kendall Smith, averaging, near 20 ppg, however not league leader since he did not play as many games. THAT will be awesome game, Q vs. K.. the Two Smith brothers going at it ! I still say, .. NOW after watching league..play..ANY team get hot in Anaheim can go to the dance ! Ganot is right. UH has to work on attacking zone and man. get better every week. !

  22. eagle:

    Agreed , though off Topic, Charlie Wade one of the best coaches at UH. maybe top 2.. his adjustments from set to set, and importantly after a Match loss, incredible.. They get SWEPT by Pepperdine, then turnaround and beat the Waves in Malibu.. 3-1 , with Siki career kill match, and Stijn van Tilburg, getting his 4th match in a row, double figures in kills.. Awesome..Hope ALL the spring UH sports teams make Post season NCAA championship rounds !

  23. I have seen on some other sites that a giovannig32 has given a verbal commit to Hawaii, does anyone have any info on this future player?

  24. RobT, saw that too. I can’t find info on him. I think it’s just a kid, or two, having fun on Twitter.

  25. 32? Isn’t that Aaron Valdes jersey number? Wonder if just friends tweeting out?

    We all know how critical the spring signing and into summer of potential recruits, a lot of holes possibly to fill. We all have to wait and see what happens, I guess. Still would like to see some local HS BB athletes, get signed to Hawaii, would be nice, there are several out there that can play.

  26. Yeah it’s a practical joke it seems. Pretty good joke.

  27. any Road win is a Great win!

  28. Per http://www.verbalcommits.com/schools/hawaii , looks like Hawaii has their eyes set on Australian, 4-star shooting guard William McDowell-White.

    Very excited about Owies, Buggs, and Purchase playing next year.

  29. I’m anxious to see what type of bigs we are going after. Hopefully after this home stand we’ll be sitting at 6-0 in league.

  30. He took a picture with Valdez and a coach at the Fullerton gym. It’s recent because Valdez was in his boot

  31. giovannig32…I think that is Aaron’s alter ego or avatar..
    Notice the “Gumby” style hairdo!
    Might be joke…
    Aaron is ” committed to Hawaii team making ncaa tournament!

    You can search and search.. no 32giovanni
    Except in italy..

    Ahhh.. slowtime for basketball news
    Next game Saturday against uc davis
    Hope 900 plus, I am sure will be in house attendance!
    Go Bows!!
    🙂

  32. 9000 plus turnstile attendance! Not 900..
    🙂

  33. Next game not until next Sunday. Good for the boys to get a rest though. Congrats on the road sweep! Exciting game, just when it appeared as though all was lost, Janks to the rescue! Then Janks for the OT win! Clutch free throw shooting at the end. Bench guys came up huge throughout. Overall, well rounded performance with certain players making key plays at the right time. Can’t wait to see if Hawaii climbs the polls. Let’s go bows!

  34. That twitter post was from Giovanni Griffith. A real guy but pretty sure he was just joking.

  35. Tavs any news of Bigs on Ganot’s radar?

  36. Poncho, I haven’t heard anything.

  37. IsaacM ….next game is Saturday, Jan. 23, per schedule.

    UH dropped out of receiving one vote in Coaches Poll. AP Poll should come out soon. Oklahoma is No. 1.

  38. Hawaii receiving 3 votes in AP Poll.

  39. I find it odd that the one coach who voted for the Warriors last week did not vote for them this week after they swept a two-game road trip.

  40. Most coaches in the coaches polls just have someone on staff vote for them. The staffer probably looked at the OT win and wasn’t impressed. He probably never took the time to see that we were without our leading scorer.

  41. Coaches Poll is a joke. More politics than anything else. How can a team be dropped after you win two games on the road in conference play?

  42. UH up to 12 seed in the Midwest Regional projected against USC,#5. Not enough credit to the excellent job the coaching staff is doing. Niko went in and did a good job. Missed Valdes, but adjustments were made and other guys stepped up like Quincy on Thursday, and Isaac on Saturday. Ganot is the top candidate for Coach of the Year honors right now. It don’t matter that you win big or win close or win ugly, only the W at the end is the most important. Each game takes it own character. UH is learning to find different ways to win games, at home and on the road. There is no panc. They know they can win. Don’t underestimate Fullerton. They have 3 really good guards and they all score double digits. But, UH is better and if Valdes was playing it wouldn’t be that close.

  43. Servante, if you actually looked at the resumes of the other teams in the “receiving votes” category, it would be pretty obvious. we didnt drop becasue we did poorly, we dropped because others did BETTER. Seton Hall, for example, leaped us because they upset the #12 team in the nation.

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