UPDATED: Warriors fall to Seton Hall at Pearl Harbor Invitational
A scrappy effort on defense Tuesday evening could not overcome another slow start and cold shooting for the University of Hawai’i men’s basketball team in a 68-57 loss to Seton Hall on the opening day of the FS1 Pearl Harbor Invitational at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
A mostly uniformed military crowd of about 1,200 at historic Bloch Arena and national TV audience watched Brocke Stepteau score a career-high 17 points off the bench and Gibson Johnson add 12 points and seven rebounds to lead the Rainbow Warriors, who dropped to 4-4. Seton Hall, the defending Big East Conference champion, improved to 6-2.
UH will play perennial Ivy League contender Princeton (2-4) at 4:30 p.m. in Wednesday’s event finale.
“No. 1, I’ll give credit to a great Seton Hall team,” said Hawai’i coach Eran Ganot. “Competition is great, that’s how you get better. Here we are on one end, with probably one of the least (amount of) returners, and two of the teams we’re playing (Seton Hall and Princeton) are in the top 10, I think, in returning guys. Which is great, for a young group, to be thrown in the fire.”
As has been their pattern recently, the Rainbow Warriors did not respond well to the heat right out of the gates.
UH’s first three possessions resulted in turnovers, allowing Seton Hall to race to a 7-0 lead less than two minutes into the game. The Rainbow Warriors then rallied with a 10-1 surge that gave them a momentary 10-8 lead with 14:09 remaining in the half. Johnson scored five points during the surge, including a 3-pointer.
The Pirates eventually regained the lead, and then took control with a 12-2 run that gave them a 29-18 lead with 4:26 remaining in the first half. Seton Hall eventually took a 33-25 lead at intermission. Hawai’i shot just 25 percent (7 for 28) from the field in the first half, and committed 12 turnovers.
“It was a challenge, they’re a really good team, and they showed that,” Johnson said. “They had really good bigs, really good guards … they were just an overall solid team. I don’t think you can put a (description) on what they did well, they were just a really good team. Just game-to-game, we continue to make the same mistakes that start with us — unforced turnovers. We had 12 at half(time), and you’re probably not going to win a lot of games if you’re gonna have 12 at (the) half.”
Seton Hall scored 18 points off of UH turnovers in the first 20 minutes.
“That’s all on us,” Johnson said. “Once we start taking care of the ball, we’re gonna be really good.”
The Rainbow Warriors showed some of that potential in the second half, committing only six turnovers and staying within striking distance until the final three minutes. After Larry Lewis’ free throw drew Hawai’i to 39-33 with 15:12 left, the Pirates went on a 7-2 surge to stretch the lead to 46-35 on Myles Powell’s 3-pointer four minutes later.
But Stepteau immediately responded with a layup and then drained a 3-pointer from the top of the key off an assist by Johnson, who grabbed an offensive rebound off of Stepteau’s missed “and-1” free throw. That made it 46-40 with 10:48 still remaining.
“At that point it felt good, because it was basically like a five-point play,” Stepteau said. “We felt good, and I think we got a stop after that, it gave us a little hope. But then a couple things went wrong after that, and we never got to keep it to a one or two-possession game to really put pressure on them.”
Two more free throws by Lewis kept the Rainbow Warriors close at 54-47 with 5:40 left, but Angel Delgado answered with a jump hook to ignite a 9-1 run capped by Khadeen Carrington to push the lead to 63-48 with 3:43 on the clock.
UH could not get closer than 11 points the rest of the way.
Hawai’i shot just 32.1 percent (18 for 56) from the field. Noah Allen, the team’s leading scorer at 16.3 points per game prior to Tuesday, went scoreless on 0-for-7 shooting and Sheriff Drammeh, the second-leading scorer at 12.3 points per game, was limited to six points after going 2 for 10 from the field. Third-leading scorer Jack Purchase (11.3 ppg) finished with eight points on 2-for-8 shooting.
“I thought our defense, for the most part, was pretty solid,” Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said. “We wanted to take away Purchase and I thought we did a good job of limiting his open looks, and that gave us opportunities to kind of get out on the break and do what we do (on transition), and that’s kind of what we do best.”
Carrington led the Pirates with 19 points, and Delgado added 16 points and 14 rebounds.
Cal 62, Princeton 51
Seton Hall 68, Hawai’i 57
Cal vs. Seton Hall, 2:00 p.m.
Hawai’i vs. Princeton, 4:30 p.m.
(Game photos courtesy Brandon Flores / www.brandonfloresphotography.com)
GAME INFO: HAWAI’I (4-4) VS. PRINCETON (2-4)
When: Wednesday, December 7, 4:30 p.m. (Hawai’i time)
Where: Bloch Arena, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam
TV: FOX Sports 1 (Oceanic channels 214 and 1214)
Streaming video: www.FoxSportsGo.com
Radio: ESPN 1420 AM
Audio webcast: www.espn1420am.com
Live stats: www.statbroadcast.com
Tickets: Not available to general public
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