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Warriors come up short in Big West road opener at Cal State Fullerton

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The first road and conference game of this season for the University of Hawai’i basketball team turned into a lesson learned.

A quick start and valiant finish by the Warriors were not enough in a 67-64 loss to Cal State Fullerton on Thursday night at Fullerton, Calif. A crowd of 724 at Titan Gym watched the Warriors fall to 6-8 overall and 0-1 in the Big West Conference; CSUF improved to 7-7 and 1-0.

“I was proud of the way we started, proud of the way we finished,” Hawai’i head coach Eran Ganot said in a post-game interview on ESPN1420 radio. “In the middle, obviously, we lost our composure.”

Hawai’i had a 10-point lead early in the game, then fell behind by as many as 13 in the second half, but rallied in the closing minutes and actually had a chance to tie the game with its final possession.

The Warriors were down by 12 with less than three minutes remaining in the game, but responded with an 11-2 surge to cut the CSUF to 67-64 on a Brocke Stepteau driving layup with 44 seconds left.

After a CSUF miss, Hawai’i took possession with 13 seconds remaining, but Leland Green’s off-balance 3-point attempt was well-defended and did not even hit the rim as the final horn sounded. The Warriors were out of timeouts before that final possession.

“We gave ourselves a chance,” Ganot said. “You could tell we did not sort out, and panicked a little bit late there with about 10 seconds to go… all four of our other guys were at the free-throw line extended, and it was very clogged up so we couldn’t get a (clean) look. Something we need to get better at.”

Green led the Warriors with a season-high 12 points, and he also grabbed six rebounds. Sophomore point guard Brocke Stepteau added 11 points, eight rebounds and five assists; junior forward Gibson Johnson added 11 points and eight rebounds, but was limited to 17 minutes due to foul trouble. Sheriff Drammeh contributed 10 points and Jack Purchase scored nine.

“Leland has been coming on,” Ganot said of the freshman guard. “He’s adjusted to staying on the floor without fouling, which has allowed him to gain some confidence.”

The Warriors shot just 34.4 percent from the field (22 for 64), including 19 percent from 3-point range (4 for 21). CSUF shot 45.3 percent (24 for 53) overall, and 16.7 percent (2 for 12) from 3-point range. The Titans also out-rebounded the Warriors, 41-37

The Warriors opened the game with an 8-2 run, and increased it to 15-5 after Green drained a 3-pointer with 14:30 remaining in the first half.

With leading scorer Tre Coggins on the bench for almost the entire first half, the Titans rallied with a 16-4 run to take a 21-19 lead with 7:45 remaining before intermission. Coggins, who entered the game averaging 20.4 points per game, picked up two fouls in the first three minutes of the game and sat for the rest of the half. He scored seven points in the second half.

CSUF eventually took a 30-28 lead at intermission. Hawai’i shot just 25.7 percent (9 for 35) from the field in the first half, including 16.7 percent (2 for 12) from 3-point range.

The Titans stayed in front the entire second half, and used a 10-0 run to increase their advantage to 50-37 with 9:53 remaining.

Lionheart Leslie led the Titans with 14 points, Kyle Allman added 11 points, and Jackson Rowe had 10 points and seven rebounds.

The loss ended a Big West streak of victories by Hawai’i over the Titans. Since joining the Big West in 2013, the Warriors were 9-0 against CSUF, including three wins last season.

Hawai’i will remain in Southern California for a road game at UC Irvine on Saturday. The Anteaters (8-9, 1-0) beat Long Beach State, 82-67, on Wednesday.

CLICK HERE to view boxscore

Big West Conference

Wednesday’s Results
at CSUN 82, UC Riverside 76
at UC Irvine 82, Long Beach State 67
at UC Davis 73, UC Santa Barbara 47

Thursday’s Games
at Cal State Fullerton 67, Hawai’i 64

Saturday’s Games
UC Riverside at Long Beach State
Cal Poly at UC Davis
CSUN at Cal State Fullerton
Hawai’i at UC Irvine, 5:30 p.m. (Hawai’i time)

9 Comments

  1. Who had the ball in their hands during the last 15 seconds of the game ?
    Who shouldn’t have the ball in their hands during the last 15 seconds of the game ?

  2. Better question. With all that time, why didn’t the coach have them bring the ball up into the front court and call time. With the lack of experience on the team shouldn’t the coach given them directions/play to tie the game. Outrageous!

  3. anderpops: UH didn’t have any timeouts left.

  4. Was a winnable game. This bunch still don’t have the finisher the guy like Bobbit who you want the ball in his hands when the game is on the line. We just don’t have that guy. We need to find and recruit that guy ASAP for next season.

  5. Yes last few years had some athletes, at guard especially. Bobbitt had tremendous year. Quincy a Warrior to the max for 3 years, won a lot of games. Fleming, very talented guard. The wings, AV, the stretch 4 Janks, the high IQ banger in Stefan Jovanovic who is doing well at LMU. Those were good athletes that came together at peak time last year magic run.
    This IS Ganot’s team, even with weight of sanctions, or removal of said.
    I still like the fight in team, very young, not very athletic all the way around, however, if UH qualifies for BWC tournament and NCAA spot, who knows? They could get hot. March Madness…

  6. As bad as UH looked in this game, they still had a shot to tie at the end. I will take that as a good sign for the first road game. This is one that got away and one of the few road games I was thinking UH had a good chance. Now they have to make up for it with a road upset … at UC Irvine!

  7. Just my opinion, Noah is not being used right.
    0 for 6, ouch.
    Noah Allen would be best used a mid-range shooter. He should drive to the basket, over and over again, and pull up for the mid-range shot. Become a point forward. Forget the 3pt shot and become part of a strategy. Drive to the middle and pull up for the shot or dish the ball. He should only go all the way to the basket if the defense breaks down completely, that is, not often. He is doing the opposite right now, taking the 3 or driving to the basket. Forget both of those options and own the middle. He could practice being a point forward playing with this D1 team and improve his skills, and at least make a pro team take a second look. He could lead from the middle. And senior leadership should have him having the ball in his hands in the last 15 seconds. Only at that point could you respect the other team and say they played good defense in the last few seconds.

  8. We definitely had a chance to win this.. the team shows flashes of greatness. Better ball movement.

    For Noah it is all mental. Just my opinion. He is a great player and I hope he finds his flow.

    Leland is a true freshman. He reminds me of a young quincy smith.

  9. I wouldn’t go as far as saying a great player but Noah is a capable player that has shut down mentally. Idk what’s the problem, player coach connection? Got to get him and the other forwards to play aggressively inside on offense. And where’s Eedo. !?hes a better player than Raimo. Eedo should be getting the minutes At this point what Eva’s.

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