UPDATED: Warriors edged by SIU-Edwardsville in season opener
The reality of a brand new season was established in all of one game for the University of Hawai’i basketball team.
An inexperienced and shallow Warriors’ roster looked the part in a 69-68 loss to Southern Illinois-Edwardsville on Friday night.
A “Green Out” crowd of 5,423 at the Stan Sheriff Center watched the Warriors drop their 2016-17 season opener, just eight months after a historic 2015- 16 season ended with a school-record 28 victories.
“We got a ways to go,” head coach Eran Ganot said. “Unfortunately, sometimes, you have to learn the hard way. You don’t want to learn the hard way, but sometimes you have to. We have work to do.”
Noah Allen, a senior transfer from UCLA, scored a game-high 21 points and grabbed seven rebounds to lead the Warriors. Sheriff Drammeh added 17 points, freshman reserve center Ido Flaisher contributed 13 points and seven rebounds in just 15 minutes of game time, and Gibson Johnson had seven points and 11 rebounds.
It was the first time since 2008 that a Hawai’i team lost its season opener. The game was also the first of three in the Outrigger Resorts Rainbow Classic. The Warriors will next face Texas State on Sunday at 5:00 p.m.
“I can talk about we missed open 3s, we probably missed 10 layups, at least; 19 turnovers, unforced, a lot of them; not being strong with the ball,” Ganot said. “The bottom line was we were disorganized. That leads to some of the turnovers and there was a lot of indecision.”
The Warriors had several chances to win the game, but could not convert. Trailing 69-68, Hawai’i had two turnovers and missed an open 3-point look in the final minute.
“Wide open, I should have made it,” Allen said of his final attempt. “Sheriff made a good pass. I can’t dwell on it too much, we have some more games in a couple of days.”
However, Allen sparked a Hawai’i rally from an 11-point second half deficit. He scored nine points during a four-minute stretch late in the game, when the Warriors managed to erase SIU-Edwardsville’s 57-46 lead.
“Noah’s going to have to carry a load,” Ganot said. “Obviously, one of the big challenges with him going into this year was whether he would embrace more of an offensive responsibility. He’s ahead of the curve in that regard, to be honest. Now, can he handle playing more minutes and defending the other team’s really good players.
The Warriors led by as many as 12 points in the first half, but settled for a 38-36 advantage at intermission. Hawai’I appeared to be in control with a 34-22 lead, but the Cougars went on a 12-0 surge to tie the game.
Flaiisher, a last-minute addition to the roster from Israel, played a key role in the first half, contributing nine points in eight minutes.
SIUE went on a 13-2 surge midway through the second half to take a 57-46 lead with 9:31 remaining.
Allen (11 points) and Drammeh (7 points) combined to score 18 of UH’s 22 points in the final 10 minutes of the game. Drammeh’s driving layup with 2:10 remaining tied the score at 68.
SIUE’s winning margin came on a free throw by Carlos Anderson with 1:19 remaining – he made the first, then missed the second.
Hawai’i’s ensuing possession resulted in a turnover, but SIUE then missed two shots. The Warriors regained possession with 17.3 seconds remaining, but Allen missed an open 3. The loose rebound went out of bounds off SIUE with 4.3 seconds remaining, giving the Warriors one more opportunity. However, Drammeh got stripped of the ball before a shot could be attempted.
“Our lack of depth hurt us,” Ganot said. “Obviously we tried a lot of diffenret guys early. Unfortunately it became apparent, even when we were down (11) that our best chance to get back in the game was to play the (main) guys longer minutes. It started to work for us, but the bottom line is it’s not going to work for us long-term. You need to develop your bench, you need to trust your bench.”
The Warriors committed 19 turnovers, and shot just 15.8 percent (3 for 19) from 3-point range. They shot 45.3 percent (24 for 53) from the field overall, and 68 percent (17 for 25) on free throws.
There were several odd elements to the home opener for the Warriors. For one, the game started at 9:07 p.m. due to the Armed Forces Classic basketball doubleheader in the Sheriff Center earlier in the day.
A special court and logos were used for the Armed Forces Classic and the UH game. The usual “home court” will be brought back for UH’s next game on Sunday.
“It doesn’t matter if you play at 9 or 11 or 2, in the morning, in the afternoon, on the road, different gyms, different rims,” Ganot said. “You gotta get it done … we didn’t get it done, that’s why. It had nothing to do with anything else.”
SIUE, which finished with a 6-22 record last season, was led by Tre Harris’ 13 points, while Keenan Simmons contributed seven points and 13 rebounds.
Outrigger Resorts Rainbow Classic
Texas State 61, Florida Atlantic 57
SIU-Edwardsville 69, Hawai’i 68
Florida Atlantic vs. SIU-Edwardsville, 2:30 p.m.
Hawai’i vs. Texas State, 5:00 p.m.
SIU-Edwardsville vs. Texas State, 6:00 p.m.
Hawai’i vs. Florida Atlantic, 11:15 p.m.
OUTRIGGER RESORTS RAINBOW CLASSIC
Who: Hawai’i (0-1) vs. Texas State (1-0)
When: Sunday, Nov. 13, 5:00 p.m. (Hawai’i time)
Where: Stan Sheriff Center (10,300)
Television: Live on OCSports – Channels 16 (SD) and 1016 (HD).
Streaming Video: BigWest.tv
Radio: Live on ESPN 1420 AM
Audio Webcast: ESPN1420am.com
Live Stats: HawaiiAthletics.com
Ticket Information: $30 (lower level); $18-$20 (upper level-adult); $16-$18 (upper level-senior citizen); $5-$7 (upper level-youth, ages 4-high school); UH Manoa students free with validated ID. Parking $6.
Promotions: Outrigger Resorts is the tournament sponsor and will distribute 1,000 spirit flags. Also, Outrigger will award up to $2,000 during the popular “Shoot for Loot” halftime contest. Sunday’s game is a “White Out”, and fans are asked to wear UH-branded white attire.
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