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UPDATED: Slow start dooms Warriors in loss to Troy

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In this case, it wasn’t so much about how the University of Hawai’i men’s basketball team finished, but rather how it started.

Troy jumped out to a stunning 16-0 lead in the game’s opening five minutes, then held on in the second half to deny Hawai’i, 65-63, in thrilling non-conference men’s basketball action Friday night.

A vocal black-clad, Black Friday crowd of about 4,200 at the Stan Sheriff Center watched Jack Purchase score a game-high 21 points for the Rainbow Warriors, who fell to 3-3. Troy improved to 3-3.

After Kevin Baker made a free throw to put the Trojans up, 65-63, with 4.5 seconds remaining, UH inbounded the ball and Noah Allen went coast-to-coast but missed his layup attempt from the left side, and Gibson Johnson’s putback also missed as the horn went off.

“It was a layup, and I missed it,” said Allen, who finished with 12 points after a scoreless first half. “It’s my fault.”

After trailing 33-24 at halftime, the Rainbow Warriors began the second half with a 13-4 run capped by Leland Green’s 3-pointer to tie the score, 37-37, with 15:31 remaining in the game. Troy quickly took the lead back on Jordon Varnado’s free throw 25 seconds later and later built the lead to 53-44 after Daniel Peace’s two free throws with 8:11 left.

The Rainbow Warriors again clawed back and eventually tied it at 60-60 on Allen’s fast-break layup off Johnson’s steal with 2:02 remaining, but Troy took the lead back on Alex Hicks’ two free throws 30 seconds later and went up, 64-60, on DeVon Walker’s free throw with 1:16 left. Johnson hit a free throw and then a putback with 1:02 remaining to close it to 64-63, but Baker made his free throw with 4.5 ticks left for the final margin.

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“Pretty simple — give credit to Troy for coming out ready to play and getting a win here, and shame on us for not being ready to play,” Hawai’i head coach Eran Ganot said. “It starts with me, not getting us ready to play. Good effort — not great — to get back in the game, but … No one can disrespect the game with that kind of (lack of) focus right out of the get-go. We learned the hard way, and you should learn the hard way, we didn’t deserve to get that one done.”

On UH’s first seven possessions, the Rainbow Warriors committed five turnovers and had two shots blocked. The Trojans capitalized by jumping out to the 16-0 lead, before Hawai’i finally broke the ice with Purchase’s 3-pointer from the top of the key with 14:33 remaining in the half.

“That was terrible, and it starts with the starters, so that’s on us,” Allen said. “We gotta be more prepared, we gotta prepare better prior to the game. We just came out flat, it happens with us, and that’s not an excuse. We gotta do a better job of starting and with our preparation. We get another opportunity Sunday (vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff), so we’re just focused on that.”

Troy extended the lead to 23-6 after Wesley Person’s 3-pointer from the top of the key eight minutes into the half, and was up, 27-11, after Jeremy Hollimon’s 10-foot baseline jumper with 9:30 left, but Ido Flaisher’s layup off Brocke Stepteau’s assist with 7:04 remaining ignited a 12-2 run capped by Purchase’s 3-pointer from the top of the key to cut it to 29-23 with 2:45 left.

The Trojans led by nine, 33-24, at halftime following Person’s two free throws with 3.2 seconds remaining.

The Rainbow Warriors made just 7 of 22 field goals (31.8 percent) in the first half, including 4 of 14 (28.6 percent) from 3-point range, and committed 14 turnovers.

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“Give credit to Troy,” Ganot said. “I think (Coach Phil Cunningham) has done a great job with his team, we knew they were dangerous, with their athleticism. They have shooting around some size inside. A big focus for us was the glass, which was a concern recently for us and we did a great job there, but we don’t have great margin for error, and too many times, we haven’t had everyone clicking and firing. So now (in the first half) we get Jack going (12 points) but then Gibson, Noah and Sheriff (Drammen) aren’t ready to go or didn’t perform to their level (combined eight points on 2-for-10 shooting). We get our rebounding, but then the turnover bug comes back. You have to honor this game, every day, and you have to honor this uniform. And I haven’t done a good enough job, obviously, making sure our guys understand that. It’s something that I take pride in, we take pride in.

“But the bottom line is, we’re down 16-0. Sometimes it can be 16-0 just because of shots they make and shots we miss, but it wasn’t that — it was straight, ‘punch-you-in-the-mouth, we respect the game and you don’t.’ And, that’s a shame. I’m throwing myself under the bus, because we gotta be better than that. It’s probably the toughest thing in coaching to swallow, is when your team does not put forth the effort that the game deserves.”

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Stepteau played 25 minutes at point guard, finishing with 12 points and five assists but also committing five turnovers. Starting point guard Drammeh finished with just four points on 1-for-11 shooting, including 0 for 5 in the second half. Allen grabbed seven rebounds but also seven turnovers. Johnson finished with nine points and seven boards.

“The greatest form of toughness is consistency — can you bring it every day?” Ganot said. “That’s toughness — not taking a charge, not beating your chest — simply being reliable, over and over and over again. … You gotta live right, play right … Tomorrow’s another day.”

CLICK HERE to view boxscore

Game photos courtesy Matt Osumi and Brandon Flores / www.brandonfloresphotography.com

CLICK HERE to view photo gallery

SUNDAY’S GAME: HAWAI’I (3-3) VS. ARKANSAS-PINE BLUFF (1-4)
When:
Sunday, November 27, 7:00 p.m. (Hawai’i time)
Where: Stan Sheriff Center (10,300) – Honolulu, HI
Television: OCSports (Oceanic channels 16 and 1016)
Radio: ESPN 1420 AM.
Audio Webcast: espn1420am.com
Live Stats: Statbroadcast.com
Ticket Information: $30 (lower level); $18-$20 (upper level-adult); $16-$18 (upper level-senior citizens); $5-$7 (upper level-youth, ages 4-high school); UH Manoa students free with validated ID. Parking $6.
Promotions: Fantastic Sams Hair Salons is the sponsor on Sunday and will award hair products throughout the game. Sign up for your chance to win at the sports marketing table at Gate A. UH Kids’ Club members are invited onto the court for pre-game festivities on Sunday. The Manoa Maniacs student section theme on Sunday is “Ugly Holiday Sweaters.”

10 Comments

  1. Arrrgghh.

  2. Still hoping the NCAA gets back from vacation and makes a quick decision. In our favor. Before the conference games get started.

  3. The team didn’t respect the game and consequently didn’t respect the fans. You’d think they had learned their lesson after losing the season opener. Ganot and co need to get their act together.

  4. I feel they will learn from this and be ready for tmrwos game. I felt at anytime Troy could’ve pulled away but we stayed in there. This team doesn’t give up. Y’all just need to believe in each other and play with confidence!

  5. That was one of the worst first halfs I have ever witnessed in person as a season ticket holder and Alum , going to the games as a student and season ticket holder for over 20 years. Totally embarrassing to see our team with no Fire and no effort We are truly not as good or athletic this year so the team has to come out and play 40 minutes wreaking havoc on the other team. If you guys want to continue as Warriors and be apart of a program where you’re the only D1 team in our state, representing all of us and our University , if you don’t want to put out the effort and you have no heart, kindly do the coaches and fans a favor and take your uniform off , fold it nicely , and exit the building , don’t let the door hit you on the way out. I plan to go to Sunday’s game and hope to see an entirely different attitude and effort. Otherwise I said what I had to say. To the players I bleed green and white just like coach Wallace , do you??? Let’s go!

  6. This team needs a lot of work. Fundamentally and mentally , they need to come out every game with fire in their belly and play With a 110% effort. The first half was dreadful. Play like Warriors Sunday and the outcome will be different from Friday. Two halves with maximum effort. Coach will age 10 years this season. Support the program and come to the games !

  7. Ganot and staff doing good job, getting team to play hard. To come back from 14 pts down to Texas St. and 16-0 down to Troy, very athletic teams, that shows tenacity. That is the scary part, if teams they play in the Big West, have a lot of pressure on the ball, steals, etc. Against Seton Hall, Princeton, two well coached teams will be challenge. Then the DHC, that is the test to see how well Bows do in BWC. I liked Riley and Bob Nash, Ganot continues that Hawaii connection. Hope the Warriors have at least an 18 or 19 win season with shot at BWC tourney title. I know they can do it. !!!

  8. Brocke likely to be in the starting lineup, per newspaper today.

  9. From the outside looking in, it seemed like the players and coaches didn’t bother preparing for the Troy game. I’m assuming their heads were already focusing on the Seton Hall and Princeton games. Hopefully the team doesn’t put forth another embarrassing loss tonight against Arkansas Pine Bluff. A loss tonight would probably be the worst result of the last decade.

    Drammeh is skilled, puts in a lot of effort (most of the time), and has international experience, but he’s not suited for the point guard position. At least not our starting point guard. I understand our choices our limited this year, but I hope Ganot and the coaches don’t plan on having Sheriff be the starting PG for next two seasons. I hope part of the solution is Drew Buggs.

  10. Brocke may be starting at the point.

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