UPDATED: Warriors fall to Utah on second day of Diamond Head
An improved second-half effort Friday night earned the University of Hawai’i a much-needed “moral victory,” but Utah still got the real thing over the Warriors, 66-52, in the consolation round of the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic.
A patient crowd of about 3,800 at the Stan Sheriff Center and national ESPNU TV audience watched the Runnin’ Utes (8-3) build a 20-point lead midway through the second half, and then hold off a late mini-rally by the Warriors (4-7). The loss extended Hawai’i’s losing streak to four, the longest since the end of the 2012-13 season
Utah advances to play Stephen F. Austin in Sunday’s fifth-place game at 7:30 a.m., while UH will face Southern Mississippi for seventh place at 9:30 a.m. The last time a Hawai’i team played in the seventh place game in an eight-team tournament was the 2007 Rainbow Classic.
The Warriors opened Classic play Thursday with a 71-45 loss to Illinois State in which Hawai’i coach Eran Ganot described his team’s second-half performance as “disrespectful” and “as about as horrid an effort as a team could put out.”
Ganot said UH showed improvement one night later, though still not quite enough.
“The effort was definitely better,” Ganot said. “We talk to our guys, there’s a balance with this group (while) focusing on getting better. We can’t be OK with a loss, we can’t be in this ‘moral victory’ phase, but there was an improvement in effort. And that shouldn’t be talked about anymore, there should never be a question on that.”
Unlike Thursday, when the Warriors fell behind 10-0 in the first three minutes, Hawai’i answered quickly after Utah took a 4-0 lead. Noah Allen scored on a baseline drive to start the Warriors on a 7-2 run capped by Jack Purchase’s 3-pointer to give a UH a brief 7-6 lead seven minutes into the game.
Purchase had gone scoreless on 0-for-7 shooting Thursday night, then stayed in his uniform and shot baskets in the arena until midnight.
“It was a massive sigh of relief,” said Purchase, who finished with a team-high 13 points on 3-for-7 shooting (all 3-pointers) Friday night. “I felt very relieved to get that first one down.”
The Utes answered with Parker Van Dyke’s 3-pointer from the right wing one minute later, and later put together a 10-2 run culminating in Lorenzo Bonam’s putback to make it 19-10 with 5:15 left in the half.
Purchase swished a 3-pointer with 3:47 remaining to cut it to 19-15, but Utah again responded with three quick baskets to push the lead to 25-15 with 3:01 left. After another 3-pointer by Purchase cut it to 25-18 on the ensuing possession, the Utes finished off the half with a 6-0 run to lead, 31-18, at the break.
The Warriors’ 18 points (on 6-for-24 shooting — 25 percent — plus 11 turnovers) tied the tournament record for fewest in a half, shared by Southern California vs. Western Michigan in 2009.
Hawai’i opened the second half with back-to-back layups by Sheriff Drammeh and Brocke Stepteau in the first minute to close it to 31-22, but Utah responded with a 9-2 run capped by Gabe Bealer’s 3-pointer which pushed the lead to 42-24 with 15:20 remaining.
Stepteau finally broke the run with a 3-pointer from the right wing at 13:55, but a 7-2 surge by the Utes finished by David Collette’s layup off a spin move made it 49-29 with 9:47 left in the game.
Collette, a 6-foot-10 post, finished with a game-high 17 points and nine rebounds.
“I thought we did a good job in the halfcourt defensively … but we did not do a good job in transition D,” Ganot said. “There was one play where Collette went coast-to-coast for a layup, and that is unacceptable. … And we struggled with Collette inside. We need to do a better job at the point of attack.”
Unlike Thursday night — when the Warriors suffered through a 13-minute, 0-for-15 second-half drought from the field — this time they chipped away at the big lead and eventually cut it to 54-44 after two free throws by Purchase with 3:01 remaining.
But Collette answered almost a minute later with a short baseline jumper, then Van Dyke drained a 3-pointer from the right corner with 1:33 left to make it 59-44. Drammeh responded with a 3-pointer from the left corner 11 seconds later to cut t to 59-47, but Bonam effectively sealed the win with two free throws at the 53.6 second mark.
Stepteau finished with 11 points, three assists and zero turnovers. Senior forward Noah Allen, the team’s leading scorer entering the game, was held to two points on 1-of-6 shooting.
Ganot said the team needs more improvement before Sunday’s game vs. Southern Miss (3-8).
“We’re very blessed, we should remind ourselves of that all the time,” Ganot said. “We have a great opportunity — gravitate toward that, embrace that. Love the competition. And here we go. We should be fired up.”
(Game photo courtesy Matt Osumi and Chris Kadooka)
San Diego State 82, Tulsa 63
Stephen F. Austin 67, Southern Miss 64
San Francisco 66, Illinois State 58
Utah 66, Hawai’i 52
7:30 a.m. — Utah vs. Stephen F. Austin for fifth place
9:30 a.m. — Hawai’i vs. Southern Miss for seventh place
1:00 p.m. — Tulsa vs. Illinois State for third place
3:00 p.m. — San Diego State vs. San Francisco for championship
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