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UPDATED: Warriors set road record with fifth straight win at CSUN

Jankovic2_CSUN_Haraki

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. – A long history of roadkill has been replaced by road thrills for the University of Hawai’i basketball team this season.

The Warriors increased their road winning streak to a school-record five with a thrilling 69-63 victory over CSUN on Thursday night at The Matadome. A crowd of 1,683 – which included about 200 Hawai’i fans – watched the Warriors out-score the Matadors 7-0 in the game’s final minute.

Hawai’i improved to 21-3 overall and remained alone atop the Big West Conference at 10-1. Second-place UC Irvine is 9-2, and will host the Warriors on Saturday in part II of a showdown for first place.

Only UH’s legendary “Fabulous Five” team of 1971-72 had a better start, going 22-2 after 24 games, but even that team had a road winning streak snapped at four.

“Proud of our guys, gutsy; we’ll going to enjoy it tonight for about a second and get ready for a tough Irvine game,” head coach Eran Ganot said.

These Warriors have won games in various ways this season, and this latest victory may have been the most unusual.

Junior center Stefan Jankovic scored a career-high 34 points on an amazing 12-for-13 shooting night. His field goal percentage of .923 is the best by a Hawai’i player in 37 years of conference games. Tony Webster held the previous mark of .909 (10 for 11) in 1983, when Hawai’i was in the Western Athletic Conference.

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“Everyone on our team just wants to win and so much more mature from one on down to 15, we’re a team,” Jankovic said. “Great teams don’t blow out everybody. They have these tough wins.”

Jankovic’s only miss of the night was a 3-point attempt in the second half. He went 10 for 10 from close range, and 2 for 3 from 3-point range. He also shot 8 for 10 on free throws, and grabbed eight rebounds.

The rest of the Hawai’i team combined to shoot 10 for 34 (29.4 percent) from the field, but contributed in many other ways.

Senior point guard Roderick Bobbitt finished with nine points, seven assists, four rebounds and just two turnovers. He was also the calming factor late in the game, when the Warriors trailed by as many as five points midway through the second half.

“We knew that we had to stick together, that’s the most important part,” Bobbitt said. “We’ve been through this before, so it wasn’t something new to us. We’re going to get everybody’s best shot, so we just have to play our game.”

Senior guard Quincy Smith contributed eight points and six rebounds, and emerged victorious against a CSUN team that features his younger brother, Kendall. Both Smith brothers started, and they had periodic opportunities to defend each other throughout the game.

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“I just wanted to win, that’s the main thing,” Smith said. “It was good playing my brother for the first time, I had a lot of family and friends here. It was good to see all of them. It was fun.”

Quincy secured the win with a highlight-reel putback dunk off a teammate’s miss with 12 seconds remaining. The Warriors were nursing a 65-63 lead at the time, and his dunk gave the Warriors an insurmountable 67-63 advantage.

“I seen the shot clock going down, I seen Sheriff (Drammeh) driving so I cut to the basket,” Smith said. “I thought he was going to pass it to me, but he ended up putting up a floater, and it just came off perfect. When I jumped up it was right there so I just dunked it.”

Junior forward Mike Thomas had seven points and a game-high 11 rebounds to help lead the Warriors to a 40-29 advantage on the boards.

Senior forward Sai Tummala scored six points, including a fearless 3-pointer from the corner that gave the Warriors the lead for good at 65-63 with 51 seconds remaining. He then grabbed a defensive rebound on CSUN’s ensuing possession.

The Warriors played without starting forward and second-leading scorer Aaron Valdes, who was in uniform but did not play due to flu-like symptoms. Freshman Sheriff Drammeh got his first start of the season in place of Valdes, and sophomore Isaac Fleming was the first player off the bench. Fleming missed the previous four games with an ankle injury.

“I think tonight everybody did their job,” Thomas said. “Janks was incredible on the offensive side in the second half, guys like Sai hitting the big 3s, Quincy with that rebound and putback dunk, Isaac coming in and playing great defense on their guards … it’s coming together.”

Drammeh scored three points and grabbed two rebounds, and made several key defensive contributions. Fleming had two points, two rebounds and two assists.

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The Warriors won despite committing a season-high 20 turnovers, including eight by Jankovic. Ganot noted that the Warriors made up for it with defense and rebounding.

Hawai’i shot 46.8 percent from the field, while holding CSUN to 37.5 percent. It was the fourth consecutive game that the Warriors held their opponent below 40 percent. The Matadors connected on just one 3-pointer in 14 attempts (7.1 percent).

Hawai’i also had its best free-throw shooting night of the season, converting 19 of 22 (86.4 percent), while CSUN went 20 for 28 (71.4 percent).

“You look at the box score and pretty much in every category except for one or two, we either tied or were ahead,” CSUN head coach Reggie Theus said. “It was a tough loss for us…I thought overall that we played well enough to win this basketball game.”

Jankovic opened the scoring with a 3-pointer, and Hawai’i had the lead for the entire first half. A 3-pointer by Drammeh followed by two free throws from Fleming late in the first half gave the Warriors a 32-24 lead – their largest of the half. CSUN scored on a layup just before halftime to make it 32-26 at intermission.

Jankovic scored 11 of his points on 4-of-4 shooting from the field in the first half. It is worth noting that CSUN was also down a starter in 6-11 senior center Olalekan Ajayi, who was not in uniform due to a possible concussion.

The Warriors’ largest lead of the game was 43-34 after Tummala drained a 3-pointer with 12:36 remaining in the second half. The Matadors responded with a stunning 16-2 surge over the next 4:35 to take a 50-45 lead, setting the stage for a dramatic final eight minutes.

Jankovic countered by scoring nine consecutive points for Hawai’i during a 9-1 run that put the Warriors back in front, 54-51 with 5:44 remaining.

CSUN’s Tre Hale-Edmerson was called for a foul on Quincy Smith on a fastbreak, and was also assessed a technical foul for arguing the call. Bobbitt drained the two free throws for the technical, then Smith made two free throws for the foul, giving the Warriors a 58-53 lead with 4:10 remaining.

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The Matadors managed to tie the score again at 60 with 1:44 remaining on a free throw by Aaron Parks. Jankovic responded with two more free throws to put Hawai’i back in front, 62-60, but CSUN made three of four free throws on its next two possessions to take a 63-62 lead with 1:06 remaining.

Tummala then hit the go-ahead 3 on a play that started with a drive to the basket by Jankovic, followed by a pass to Drammeh on the wing, then an assist from Drammeh to Tummala in the corner.

Kendall Smith led CSUN with 13 points, and Aaron Parks added 12.The Matadors, who are ineligible for next month’s Big West Tournament, dropped to 9-17 overall and 4-8 in the Big West. They will play the Warriors again in Honolulu on February 27.

CLICK HERE to view boxscore

(Game photos courtesy Warren Haraki)

CLICK HERE to view photo gallery

Screen shot 2016-02-18 at 11.49.35 PM

Thursday’s Big West Results
at Cal Poly 58, UC Davis 53
Hawai’i 69, at CSUN 63
UC Santa Barbara 65, at UC Riverside 55

Saturday’s Big West Games
CSUN at Cal Poly
UC Davis at UC Santa Barbara
Cal State Fullerton at Long Beach State
Hawai’i at UC Irvine, 6:30 p.m. (Hawai’i time)

19 Comments

  1. This win was fun! Nervewracking, yes, but the best part was Q with the putback! That was a statement dunk! Janks! That was POY worthy! The calls were weird, but everyone kept their compsure in a tight game! Sorry all the !!! But I’m super excited! Way to go team!

    As a sidenote, that ESPN3 stream was super clear, and I thought the announcers did a good job, even though they were getting ahead of themselves with their buildup for the UCI game.

  2. Nice interviews, too! Janks crediting Niko. I think we knew that. Congrats on another win Coach! And another heart and soul of the team interview with MT and Q. MT just flashing some of his scoring ability with his easy three. Made it look easy. I expect to see MT open it up one of these games. And just to say it again, because I am getting to like saying it. Just as a difference is noticed in that some people are shooters and some people are scorers, and it is different, Q’s talent is winning. I don’t know that he fills up the stat sheet in any other column, but the ‘w’ column is all Quincy. That’s his talent. He comes up big with the wins. In the interview he says, ‘that’s the main thing’, and its ‘fun’, and for Q, those two things are seamless. I think we are ready for Irvine. Go Bows !

  3. Great win but when is Janks going to STOP touching the ball after every made shot?

  4. This team does not give up.. Way to GET the Win Bows!

    Fleming had some great passes! Good to see him back in action

    Janks enforced his will! Congrats on the high score.

    Rod solid as always! Could break the all time school record in steals before season is over. Imagine if he played all 4 years for Hawaii.

    Q’s putback dunk made me jump off of the couch!! Lol

    Hot Tammala’s big 3.. When it came at a time needed most!

    This team is awesome! I’m so proud of them!

  5. Great game. Looking forward to Irvine!

  6. Winners know how to get it done and these guys know how!

    What can you say about Janks? When he’s got a team’s number he’s confident and unstoppable. He’s in afraid compared to last year to just go for it and the team knows to find him and they do. Another great defensive showing. The turnovers were frustrating and stressful, but we can’t always be perfect and we gritted it out. Q and Bobbitt and Janks showing great leadership through their play and demeanor on the court, staying calm and focused.

    Great job Ganot and staff getting the guys ready. Hope Valdes is feeling better. Would like to see us at full force. I’m not looking ahead game-wise, but am really looking forward to senior night next weekend and celebrating this team with a sellout and a lot of aloha.

  7. Not enough credit to Coach Ganot. Very late in the game he took Thomas out after a CSUN free throw and put in Tummala for offense. Then Tummala hits that huge 3 to give us the lead back at 65-63. I don’t know about you but Ganot is disguised as Brad Stevens. Just a terrific Head Coach. Matlin must be smiling.

  8. Thanks for the exclusive coverage by Dayton who must be with the team, video and interviews. We see the key sequence of Janks to Sheriff to Sai in the last 51 seconds and also Sheriff’s “assist” to Quincy at 14 seconds.
    Mahalo to Niko for his one-on- one practices with Janks.

  9. Just some reactions to last night…this team had me worried being down by 5 with a couple minutes to go. But they responded like true champions. Sai was Mr. Clutch with his 3’s. Janks was “the show” last night, generating half of UH’s overall point output and doing it all. Bobbit was Mr. Composure keeping the team calm and only committing 2 turnovers. Q was “the exclamation point” with his game-sealing put-back slam that was one for the ages. He doesn’t put up big numbers but his overall effort goes much beyond what’s reported in the stat sheets. Solid performance by Drammeh, aka Mr. Lockdown. He doesn’t play like a true freshman and I’m excited to see him progress and mature throughout his years. Fleming didn’t exactly have a night to remember but he got his feet wet again and will be back to full strength come tomorrow night at Irvine.

    I also want to express some frustration with the TO’s. Some were UH’s fault….others, I’m not so sure. And the ref’s seemed to call the fouls really tight on UH. Any time a CSUN player had the ball down low, the guys really couldn’t do anything without risking a foul call. It’s disappointing and does not represent how true basketball should be played, in my opinion at least. Hoping for some balanced officiating come tomorrow night, as this one may come down to a game of inches. I’m glad UH had their ‘off-night’ where the competition wasn’t as intense…otherwise it may have gotten pretty ugly!

    Can’t wait for the game tomorrow night. Let’s GO BOWS!

  10. Beat Irvine warriors probably regular season champions.

    Top seed in Anaheim. This team can win 2 or 3 games

    in ncaa tournament. Playing very well. Get wins under

    all adversity. Go warriors. Irvine will go down next!

  11. No question Jankovic on radar for euro and nba scouts.

    He has to keep playing strong and lead warriors as far

    as possible in ncaa’s. If right situation, could project him

    as late first round pick or top one or two second round

    this year, if he maintains his high level of play. Euro pro

    high leagues definite. For this year draft my guess. He is

    that good NOW. Since he academic senior. Just great

    Big!

  12. CSUN had 7 steals to only 2 for UH, 11 TO’s to 20 for UH. UH had 40 rebounds to 29 for CSUN.

  13. Nice observation by Derek about Coach’s substitution. The way that Sai took that 3, coach probably told him to take a good look right away; and he did. Then Sai came all the way down to crash the boards and secure CSUN’s miss. great coaching by the staff and execution by Sai.

  14. Saw Gerry Blakes play for Arizona St. against Arizona earlier in the week and he hit a couple of 3s and getting lots of playing time for Bobby Hurley. Time flies. Announcers said that Blakes is a senior already. Another Arnold recruit commit who never got here.

  15. Awesome video by Dayton, who picked a perfect time to accompany the team on a road trip. I’m guessing a debt of gratitude should go to the Schmidt ohana for helping to sponsor the travel.

    This group of players has come so far in a year, and it shows in its ability to grind-out a victory, something it couldn’t go last season.

    On the nights when your shots aren’t falling, the fouls are mounting, and the turnovers are piling up, you’ve got to buckle down on defense and just grind. For every performance like against Irvine (14 3’s), there have been difficult, closely contested games whose outcomes hung in the balance until the closing minute or two. It’s not for the feint of heart, but this team is mentally tough, hardened by all the adversity it’s been through.

    And now they sit atop the perch at 10-1, including a heretofore unheard of 5-0 away from home. But it’s gonna be a challenge the rest of the way. As Bobbitt said in the video: They’re going to get everyone’s best shot.

    Tomorrow is huge. Irvine is coming off a game in which it shot 60 percent from the field and scored 60 points in the second half. But, as the adage goes, “defense travels well” and this team is equipped to handle the challenge.

  16. Warriors should win by close margin. Long Beach State

    we keep eye on Faust and company only team to beat

    Warriors so far this year at Stan Sheriff Center. Think

    Warriors finish last game on road against 49ers?

    Only 5 more games to go regular season. Big West

    perfect conference now for hawaii!

  17. I have to say I’m really happy for Q and what a great senior season he’s having.

    His putback slam at the end of the game had me out of my seat and hollering. It was like an exclamation point to close the contest.

    It reminded me of his drive to the basket for that dunk and-one against Long Beach State. That’s the loudest I’ve heard the arena in years.

    I’ve been impressed by his athleticism ever since his first year here and watching him compete in the pre-season exhibition game’s slam dunk contest. He attempted a dunk where he put the ball through his legs and then tried to throw it down. Twice. He never actually made it, but the way he was able to elevate for a guy his size was pretty amazing.

    He’s been through a lot of changes, but it looks like he’s really blossomed under Ganot’s guidance, won himself a starting spot, and can even hit the 3 now.

    I’m going to miss watching him and Bobbitt and Tummala play next year, but will enjoy the rest of the ride this year while it lasts.

    Play on, Warrior!

  18. LOL… I played in bigger high school gyms back in the day.

  19. What a thrilling finish. I was going nuts listening to the game. So excited I knocked my beer off the table. Dayton, great video and game coverage.
    Go Warriors!

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