UPDATED: Warriors come up short against UC Davis
Living dangerously one time too many, Hawai’i rallied late but fell short against visiting UC Davis, 76-70, in Big West Conference men’s basketball action Saturday night.
A crowd of 6,982 at the Stan Sheriff Center watched Chima Moneke score 26 points and grab 13 rebounds, Brynton Lemar add 18 points and Lawrence White drain the go-ahead 3-pointer from the right wing with 1:38 remaining as the Aggies improved to 12-8 overall, 4-1 in the Big West.
Noah Allen scored 26 points and grabbed nine rebounds and Gibson Johnson added 14 points for the Warriors, who fell to 8-10, 2-3.
The loss comes after two straight thrilling comeback victories over Long Beach State (114-107, OT) on Jan. 14 and Cal State Northridge (80-77) last Wednesday.
“It’s never easy, these are tough,” UH coach Eran Ganot said. “Credit Davis, they’ve done a great job, especially this year. Coming here and getting a tough win over us, they did what they needed to down the stretch.”
After White’s 3-pointer, Lemar and Moneke combined on 2 of 4 free throws to put the Aggies up, 73-69, with 25.3 seconds left. Allen then made one of two free throws with 15.5 seconds remaining to cut it to 73-70, but Lemar made three of four free throws down the stretch after two UH turnovers to seal the victory.
UC Davis made 23 of 37 free throw attempts, compared to 22 of 31 for the Warriors.
“We’ve regressed defensively, both in giving up points, and fouling,” Ganot said. “I think offensively, we’ve done a better job of taking care of the ball, 10 turnovers (Saturday night). But we’ve got to have it all, especially against a team that’s playing well like Davis.”
The Warriors led, 33-32, at halftime but the Aggies started the second half with a 9-2 run to lead, 41-35, three minutes in and prompting a timeout by Ganot.
“That’s just on us — we gotta come out ready to play,” Johnson said. “We came out in the first jump ball, ready to play and had a good first half. We missed a lot of easy ones and still found ourselves with the lead. But when we didn’t come out ready in the second half, it put us back, and we weren’t able to climb out of it.”
Ganot said a few early misses in the second half led to defensive lapses on the other end, spurring UC Davis’ run.
“I’m disappointed in the way the second half started,” Ganot said. “We had two great shots — Brocke (Stepteau) had a wide open 3, Jack (Purchase) had a roll and a layup — but that was the first time in the game where our missed shots affected us. We were poor out of the gates in the second half. But our team showed resolve, they fight, and obviously I’m very proud of that.”
Hawai’i stayed close and eventually took the lead back at 61-59 on Allen’s jump hook in the paint with 6:06 remaining, but the Aggies answered with Darius Graham’s 3-pointer from the top of the key. Soon after, the Warriors tied it at 63-63 with Zigmars Raimo’s layup off Stepteau’s assist with 4:33 left.
But Graham again answered quickly, swishing another high-archer from several feet beyond the top of the key to put UC Davis ahead, 66-63, with 4:12 remaining.
“Give them credit, but I thought we showed a lack of maturity in key points, and a lack of discipline,” Ganot said. “To give up two big three’s at the end, at the top of the zone, at one point with no one there, and then at another point with only a soft hand. And at key times — to Graham both times. Our lack of discipline at key times hurt us, especially against a good team. They’re an experienced team, they start four seniors and a junior. But we’ve got to get better, to get over that hump.”
UH took the lead back one last time at 69-68 on Stepteau’s layup drive down the middle of the lane with 2:02 remaining, but the Aggies answered yet again with Lemar’s 3-pointer, giving them the lead for good with 1:39 left.
“We knew they were going to be a disciplined team — both offensively and defensively — and that they were going to know our plays and execute efficiently,” Allen said. “They did a great job with that.”
Ganot said the many unnecessary fouls throughout the game took a toll, as starting guard Leland Green fouled out with 49 seconds remaining, Purchase and Raimo each had four fouls and Allen, Johnson, Stepteau and Sheriff Drammeh each had three.
“When (the Aggies) tried a fadeaway shot, we fouled them,” Ganot said. “That’s a lack of discipline — you’re forcing a tough (shot), and then you’re fouling them on that. That’s the second game in a row we’ve done that, and we have to make the adjustment. You feel like you’re about to get a stop, and then you foul them. It puts them on the line, and then it puts our limited depth in foul trouble. You saw that we had to mix-and-match again.”
Ganot said Moneke, a 6-foot-7, 223-pound post, caused problems inside.
“He’s 6-7, long and incredibly strong,” Ganot said. “He has a great motor, obviously great timing and a really good touch. I thought we did a good job on him early, (but) sometimes with those guys if you start giving them transition (opportunities), second-chance points, they get going. More than anything, we fouled him at times we didn’t need to. Clearly, we did not do a good job on him.”
Another effect Moneke may have had was on Purchase, who was held to just three points on 1-for-7 shooting.
“With Jack, I think fatigue may have played a part, with him having to guard their post,” Ganot said. “Credit them, they had him scouted well, and most of the 3-pointers that he took — he didn’t have many good looks.”
The Warriors continue with Game 4 of a rare five-game conference homestand on Wednesday against UC Riverside at the SSC.
“We’ve got a big week next week,” Ganot said. “I think our guys are getting better at handling them, but in the moment — today — we took a step back. Defending without fouling is something on.”
Johnson said he and his teammates are up for the challenge.
“We’re ready to fight, ready (to) come back with two W’s,” Johnson said.
(Game photos courtesy Matt Osumi and Chris Kadooka)
Big West Conference
at UC Riverside 65, UC Santa Barbara 55
Long Beach State 98, at Cal Poly 92
UC Irvine 105, at CSUN 73
UC Davis 76, at Hawai’i 70
CSUN at UC Santa Barbara
UC Riverside at Hawai’i, 7:00 p.m.
Cal Poly at UC Irvine
Cal State Fullerton at Long Beach State
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