UPDATED: Allen scores 34 to lead Warriors over UCSB
Showing a sense of urgency that was lacking in its previous two outings, Hawai’i closed out a five-game Big West Conference men’s basketball homestand Saturday night by routing UC Santa Barbara, 78-56.
An appreciative “Green-Out” crowd of about 5,500 at the Stan Sheriff Center watched Noah Allen score a career-high 34 points as the Warriors snapped a two-game losing streak to improve to 9-11 overall, 3-4 in the Big West. The Gauchos fell to 3-16, 1-6.
Ido Flaisher contributed eight points and seven rebounds off the bench and Jack Purchase notched a career-high six assists for UH, which overcame an early deficit and steadily built upon a 37-29 halftime lead to win going away.
The Warriors were coming off a disappointing 70-64 loss last Wednesday to UC Riverside, which was missing its starting backcourt after two players did not make the trip reportedly due to a “coach’s (Dennis Cutts) decision.”
“I’m proud of our response, I thought it was a team effort on both ends (offense and defense),” UH coach Eran Ganot said. “A lot of guys brought it today. We had a really tough loss against Riverside where we didn’t come ready to play, but we came ready to play tonight.”
Allen certainly came ready to play, shooting 11 for 14 from the field, and a perfect 9 for 9 on free throws. His 34 points also tied the UH record for most points scored in a Big West Conference game (Aaron Valdes in 2015 and Stefan Jankovic in 2016 also scored 34). He also grabbed a team-high eight rebounds, as the Warriors out-rebounded the Gauchos, 39-27.
After falling behind, 7-2, in the game’s first three minutes, the Warriors went on a 14-3 run bookended by Allen’s jumper and then Flaisher’s layup off Purcahse’s assist to take a 16-10 lead with just under 12 minutes remaining in the half.
UCSB later closed it to 27-24 on Gabe Vincent’s 3-pointer from the top of the key with 3:47 left, but Allen answered with a jumper off Purchase’s assist 40 seconds later and Hawai’i closed out the half with a 12-5 run to lead 37-29 at the break.
The Warriors shot 13 of 24 (54.2 percent) from the field in the first half, led by Allen’s 15 points.
“It felt good, I thought we came out with a lot of energy, and that was something we lacked in the last game,” Allen said. “I think it carried its way throughout the game, so it was a real good performance for us, a confidence-builder for all of us, so we just have to keep it going.”
UH was able to stretch the lead in the second half despite post players Gibson Johnson and Flaisher each drawing his third foul within the first four minutes.
After JD Slajchert drained a short jumper to close it to 42-34 with 14:36 remaining, Allen answered with a 3-pointer from the left corner off Purchase’s assist to ignite a 19-4 run capped by Flaisher’s putback that made it 61-38 at the 8:32 mark.
The Gauchos never got closer than 18 points the rest of the way.
“(Flaisher brought) a lot of energy, and that’s what we needed,” Allen said. “He came in, he had been struggling a little bit, but he was ready to play today, and I’m real happy for him. He helped the whole team, so it was big for us.”
Ganot said while Flaisher’s performance was uplifting, it can become somewhat of a puzzle figuring out which reserve will step up as he did from game to game.
“Sometimes it’s been different guys on different nights,” Ganot said. “And that’s the problem — we can’t ever make a move when you have a small margin for error. You need to be firing, and firing doesn’t mean making shots. Firing means we’ve got to be locked in, focused, (with) great effort.”
That also means solid defense, and the Warriors delivered by holding UCSB to 28.6 percent shooting (14 of 49), including 20 percent (5 of 25) in the second half.
“For us, we try to beat you with jabs, by continuing to play right,” Ganot said. “Sometimes the jabs lead to the (knockout). I just think when you make teams work on both ends, when you don’t settle (for bad shots) … We had been playing better in this homestand, but we didn’t make the move defensively. We haven’t had many games like this because our defense hasn’t been consistent. (But) it was nice to see (the defense) re-emerge today.”
Ganot said he was also pleased UH was able to put the nails in the coffin this time, as opposed to allowing the Gauchos to threaten in the second half.
“The other thing was, when we created some leads, could we extend?” Ganot said. “Recently, the leads have gone back down, and then we’re behind. It was nice to see us take a lead, and keep a lead, and keep extending it.”
Allen said that was indeed a point of emphasis.
“Just building good habits — when we get up five (points), we gotta push it to 10 and have that killer mentality,” Allen said. “(Ganot) talks about that all the time.”
Most recently, it was after Wednesday’s loss to UC Riverside.
“In the locker room talk after the game, points were … pretty emphatic,” Ganot said. “This (victory over UCSB) wouldn’t have been a surprise if people saw our practices the last two days, they would have seen this coming a little bit. The way (the Warriors) handled that loss, was about as professional as you can handle a loss like that. It was tough, because we all took it on the chin. And they were very focused, crisp, sharp … especially on the defensive end, in these two days leading up to this game.”
Ganot said not only did the Warriors step up the energy, but so did their supporters.
“I can’t say enough about our fans,” Ganot said. “I told our guys there’s not too many places in the country that could have a team going through so many struggles like we have had … and to have that kind of turnout, even with those struggles. It’s impressive. People over here obviously support a winner, but they also support a team that is going through some tough times.
“This team has been a shining light in a dark tunnel, with the things they’re going through. But they press on, because they want to please. People should be very proud of them, and it was nice to see that.”
The five-game homestand now finally over, UH now hits the road for games at UC Riverside on Thursday and Cal State Northridge on Saturday.
“You don’t want to rely on confidence boosts — the confidence should come from inside, and I think we have been getting better,” Ganot said. “What we hadn’t seen was the defense and the boards, we needed to see that. We have a big task ahead with these nine remaining games — three at home, six on the road, starting with two teams that we just played recently. In conference, those games are battles and it’s going to be tough back on the road.”
Allen said he and his teammates are up for the challenge.
“I think with a young team, any win is a positive from a team perspective, trying to build confidence,” Allen said. “Hopefully we can learn from this, both the positives and the negatives, and take that as momentum going on the road.”
(Game photos courtesy Brandon Flores / www.brandonfloresphotography.com)
at UC Davis 74, UC Irvine 65
CSUN 63, at UC Riverside 59
at Cal State Fullerton 81, Cal Poly 71
at Hawai’i 78, UC Santa Barbara 56
Long Beach State at CSUN
Cal State Fullerton at UC Santa Barbara
UC Davis at Cal Poly
Hawai’i at UC Riverside, 6 p.m. (Hawai’i time)
Leave a Response
You must be logged in to post a comment.