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UPDATED: Warriors drop second straight to UC Riverside

Short-handed UC Riverside still proved too much for a Hawai’i team short on energy Wednesday night, as the visiting Highlanders held off the Warriors, 70-64, in Big West Conference men’s basketball action.

A Stan Sheriff Center crowd of 5,465 watched freshman Dikymbe Martin score 15 points and Alex Larsson add 13 points as the Highlanders improved to 6-11 overall and 4-2 in the Big West with their fourth consecutive victory. Secean Johnson contributed 12 points, including four key free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.

Gibson Johnson scored 16 points, Leland Green added 15 points and Sheriff Drammeh contributed 11 points for the Warriors, who fell to 8-11, 2-4. It was Hawai’i’s second consecutive home loss, marking the first time that a UH team dropped back-to-back home games against Big West opponents since joining the conference in 2012-13.

UCR won despite missing its starting backcourt tandem of Chance Murray and Malik Thames, who lead the team in conference scoring with 13.4 and 11.4 points per game, respectively. Both did not make the trip, reportedly due to the “coach’s (Dennis Cutts) decision.”

Green said the last-minute change in lineups did not affect UH’s game plan as much as an overall lack of execution.

“It wasn’t difficult (adjusting), basically everything we went through in walk-through … we just didn’t do our job defensively,” Green said. “It all comes down to effort. We didn’t play with much effort tonight, (but) we’ll change that.”

After Hawai’i took a 35-34 lead on Noah Allen’s three-point play 80 seconds into the second half, Secean Johnson barely beat the shot clock buzzer with a 3-pointer from the left corner to start a 13-4 run as UC Riverside opened up a 48-38 lead midway through the period.

The Warriors clawed back, however, and eventually tied it at 51-51 after Green hit a mid-range jumper from the left side and then a 3-pointer from the right wing to ignite a 13-3 surge capped by Gibson Johnson’s tip-in putback with 7:26 remaining.

The Highlanders then opened up a 56-51 lead after Gentrey Thomas’ finger roll and then Brandon Rosser’s three-point play with 6:34 left. UH was able to tie it again at 59-59 on Gibson Johnson’s free throw with 3:14 remaining, but Martin then put UCR ahead for good with a driving layup with 2:25 left.

“They were really aggressive with their guards, coming downhill off of screens and rolls,” Gibson Johnson said. “They had a good offensive plan and executed it and were able to hit a couple tough shots. We made them take a couple shots that we wanted, and they just ended up making them, and it cost us the game.”

After Martin’s go-ahead basket, Larsson made three of four free throws to push the lead to 64-59 with 1:05 remaining. Allen swished a 3-pointer from the right corner 12 seconds later to close it to 64-62, but he fouled out on the next possession and Secean Johnson made his four free throws at the 35.1 and 13.9-second marks to extend the lead to 68-62.

Gibson Johnson scored on a putback to close it to 68-64 with 2.1 ticks on the clock, but it was too little, too late for the Warriors.

“They were in the right spots (defensively), but I thought we missed a lot of shots that we normally make,” Johnson said. “I think (our) effort could have been better, I think them hitting some tough shots and us not hitting our shots … I think effort also looks bad when we’re not making shots because your morale falls down, feels like you can’t get anything going in a rhythm. But our defensive effort definitely could have been better.”

UC Riverside led at halftime, 34-30, despite not shooting a single free throw. The Highlanders out-rebounded Hawai’i, 14-6, and shot 60 percent (15 of 25) from the field, compared to 42.9 percent (9 of 21) for the Warriors.

Hawai’i hit 5 of 10 shots from 3-point range, but was just 4 of 11 from inside the arc. Allen, who was averaging 27.0 points and 8.3 rebounds per game in the previous three games, finished with eight points and five rebounds before fouling out in the final minute.

Hawai’i had led, 28-27, after Drammeh’s 3-pointer from the right corner with five minutes remaining, but Johnson answered with a layup 40 seconds later to start UCR on a 7-2 run to end the half.

“Give credit to Riverside for coming out ready to play, from the start,” Warriors coach Eran Ganot said. “I didn’t do a good job getting our guys ready to go. We were flat, our energy wasn’t there, we weren’t inspired, I was glad at the half that — for some reason — at halftime we were down only four points, and we were in the game.

“But there’s a spirit, and a fight, that needs to be there for any team, especially for a team that is going through some struggles. And we didn’t have that. It’s a disservice to the university, and we gotta get that spirit back, and it starts with me.”

UH returns to action at 7:30 p.m. Saturday against UC Santa Barbara, ending a rare five-game conference homestand. The Warriors are 2-2 through the first four games of the homestand.

“No matter what we’re going through, we gotta continue to fight and work hard in practice,” Green said. “Our whole team needs to do that.”

CLICK HERE to view boxscore

(Game photos courtesy Chris Kadooka)

CLICK HERE to view photo gallery

Wednesday’s Results
CSUN 78, at UC Santa Barbara 57
UC Riverside 70, at Hawai’i 64

Thursday’s Games
Cal Poly 79, at UC Irvine 66
at Long Beach State 76, Cal State Fullerton 65

Saturday’s Games
CSUN at UC Riverside
UC Irvine at UC Davis
Cal Poly at Cal State Fullerton
UC Santa Barbara at Hawai’i, 7:30 p.m.

12 Comments

  1. Ganot starting to sound like a broken record.

    Where has Larry Lewis been the past two games?

  2. Very disappointed in the outcome. Riverside was no powerhouse No fire in our guys Play like Big West Champs not Chumps! You gotta come into every game with that mindset otherwise look at the outcome ! No inside game killed us.

  3. Riverside came in and said this was our house.. That can’t happen.

    I agree ucr is no powerhouse and we should’ve come away with a w on this one.

    I too would’ve liked to see Larry Lewis and what about Matthews? Wouldn’t of hurt to put him in lastnight the way we were playing

  4. UCR is a terrible team. They had 11 first half turnovers, then somehow only committed 3 more in the second half? Also, it seems like in the last 10 minutes of the game, we got whistled for every shot they took around the rim. I felt like officiating in the second half highly favored UCR, and in a game like this where it comes to the wire, I couldn’t help but feel like the officiating was biased. Both of Allen’s fouls in the first half were very weak/ticky-tack, which really hurt us from the get-go. Just my opinion!

    On the other side of the ball, I felt like we didn’t go to our bigs enough. Johnson was having a good game, we should have fed him more. And Flaisher, didn’t he make the first FG of the game? Not sure why his minutes were so limited, but I feel like he could have made a bigger impact.

    This team is pure Dr Jekyl/Mr. Hyde. Two encouraging, inspiring games, followed by 2 disappointments. The boys need to come firing out the gate on Saturday, otherwise their goose is cooked. Let’s GO BOWS!

  5. This is truly one that got away. UCR had BOTH of their guards out of this game and we still couldn’t take advantage. As others already said, anyone could see that UCR is not a very talented team, in fact one of the few teams that UH can probably match with talent.

    No excuses for this loss but also have to put it behind now. This Saturday against a even worst UCSB team is truly a must win!

  6. Even our NCAA team last year lost to UCR, 77-71,at SSC.

  7. UCR has a very good coach and his team stepped up. Have feeling UCSB with only one win in BWC has shot to beat Warriors this Saturday. At home UH is or should be at their best. Somehow BWC teams with good guards and good defense and rebounding give warriors trouble. Eran has to step up too. I believe their last 4 home games they will have chance to win hopefully they play smart and tough to finish. Upcoming last 9 games six are on the road.

  8. No answer in the first half as UCR dominated the paint. Could have been down more if UCR hadnʻt turned the ball over so much. Second half defense better but credit Highlanders for making plays down the stretch. Their freshman PG Martin had a huge game and Johnson was a load getting Allen in foul trouble.Their zone D caused problems for us especially late where the Bows looked shaky running their offense and settled for threes.

  9. Leland went for his own missed 3 and made an awesome layup. He hustled like that the whole game while a lot of the team seemed to loose their aggressiveness. .They needed a much better transition game to prevent UCR from setting up their defense which put 5 guys in the paint most of the time and were able to dense us going to the basket and rebounding. Noah just can’t give us his best stuck in the corner. He needs to be up front where he can penetrate and go to the basket. Coaches need to reevaluate and make adjustments. Agree, we should have seen Larry Lewis. Owies is beginning to disappoint. Not sure about Mathews but he sort of reminds me of Jaren Dillinger who they kept on the bench and really delivered once he started playing. A little smaller but good B-Ball body. Looking for a different team come Saturday.

  10. Irvine bites the dust to Cal Poly, 79-66 .

  11. Since everyone has posted the obvious short comings of the team the other night I’ll post the positives from the game. Leland Green had a great game and is starting to find his rhythm offensively in addition to his defense and hustle plays. Ido also had a good game in his limited minutes. Even though he is not the most athletic guy he has decent footwork and has some solid post moves. Gibson always plays with his heart on his sleeve and played through some minor injuries to give us a shot. He has the heart of a warrior.

  12. ^^^ Nice. No doubting that this team hustles and plays hard with what they got.

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