UPDATED: Warriors get revenge on the road at UC Riverside
Revenge and a breakthrough road win were bundled together for the University of Hawai’i basketball team in a 72-63 victory at UC Riverside on Thursday night.
A crowd of 1,252 at the SRC Arena in Riverside, Calif., watched the Warriors jump to a 20-point lead in the first half, and then hold on in the second half to avenge a 70-64 loss to the Highlanders just eight nights earlier in Honolulu.
“That’s adjustments and give our guys credit for learning from the last game,” head coach Eran Ganot said. “I thought the first half obviously was about as well as we’ve played all year.”
Hawai’i improved to 10-11 overall and 4-4 in the Big West Conference with its first road win of this season. UCR dropped to 6-13 and 4-4. Both teams are now part of a four-way tie for fourth place in the conference, and just two games behind first place UC Irvine.
A solid first half, sizzling shooting from 3-point range and the free-throw line, and a balanced scoring attack were the keys for the Warriors.
“I’m just really proud of our guys,” Ganot said. “When you win on the road, you have to play well, which we did in the first half. And then you have to make winning plays. I’m sure you’ll remember Sheriff (Drammeh) and Gibson (Johnson) taking huge charges late, or Jack (Purchase) getting on the floor. We’re fighting with everything we got.”
Some of the numbers:
• Purchase scored 15 points and grabbed a career-high nine rebounds. He shot 4-of-7 from 3-point range, and scored 11 in the first half to lead the Warriors to a 38-18 lead at intermission.
• Drammeh scored 15 points in a reserve role, including 4-of=5 shooting from 3-point range. With the UH lead dwindling, Drammeh drained a 3-pointer with 2:56 remaining, and then drew a charging foul on a UCR 2-on-1 fastbreak with 1:35 remaining to help seal the win.
• Brocke Stepteau had 14 points, seven assists (with only two turnovers), and went 8 for 8 from the free-throw line. He and Drammeh combined to go 6 for 6 on free throws in the final 20 seconds to secure the victory.
• Leland Green scored nine points and grabbed four rebounds, despite feeling ill prior to the game.
• Gibson Johnson had nine points, and also drew a charging foul in the final minute.
• Noah Allen scored seven points.
The opening 10 minutes of the game went back-and-forth, and UCR had a 17-13 lead with 9:19 remaining. The Warriors responded with a stunning 19-0 run over the next five minutes to take a 32-17 advantage. Purchase and Drammeh each hit two 3-pointers to highlight the surge.
Hawai’i eventually took a 38-18 lead at halftime after out-scoring the Highlanders 25-1 in the last 9:18 of the first half.
The Warriors shot 55.6 percent from the field in the first half, including 63.6 percent (7 for 11) from 3-point range. In contrast, the Highlanders shot 26.9 percent from the field in the first half, including 22.2 percent (2 for 9) from 3-point range.
UH’s 20-point halftime lead got cut to 10, less than four minutes into the second half as UCR made its first four shots of the second half.
“Obviously we hadn’t been in that situation before – up 20 at the half,” Ganot said. “We didn’t handle it very well.”
The Warriors rebuilt their lead to 49-31 with 12:51 remaining, but the Highlanders went on a 10-1 surge to cut the Hawai’i lead to 50-41 with 9:15 left.
Drammeh’s 3-pointer put Hawai’i up by seven with 2:56 remaining, after the Highlanders had got as close as 61-57.
The closest the Highlanders got was 64-61 with 1:18 remaining, but Stepteau found a wide-open Gibson Johnson under the basket for a layup on the next UH possession. The Warriors then sealed it at the free-throw line.
Hawai’i finished the game shooting 47.6 percent from the field, including 47.6 percent from 3-point range (10 for 21). The Warriors also went 16 for 19 on free throws (84.2 percent), including 15 for 17 in the second half.
UCR shot an impressive 75 percent in the second half, and finished at 50 percent (25 for 50). However, the Highlanders went just 4 for 16 (25 percent) from 3-point range.
Dikymbe Martin led the Highlanders with 21 points and six steals. Chance Murray added 15 points and five rebounds.
Hawai’i will remain on the road for another Big West road game at CSUN on Saturday.
Cal State Fullerton 79, at UC Santa Barbara 53
at Cal Poly 74, UC Davis 70
Hawai’i 72, at UC Riverside 63
UC Riverside at Cal Poly
UC Davis at UC Santa Barbara
Hawai’i at CSUN, 5:30 p.m. (Hawai’i time)
UC Irvine at Long Beach State
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