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UPDATED: Warriors make it four in a row with 74-65 win over Cal Poly

Lo and behold, this supposedly “rebuilding year” for University of Hawai’i men’s basketball is turning into much, much more.

Noah Allen scored 21 points and grabbed nine rebounds, Gibson Johnson added 15 points and Jack Purchase chipped in with 11 points Thursday night to help the Warriors hold off Cal Poly, 74-65, in Big West Conference men’s basketball action.

A “Star Wars Night” crowd of 5,596 at the Stan Sheriff Center watched Ido Flaisher contribute 10 points and six boards off the bench as the Warriors won their season-high fourth straight game to improve to 12-11 overall, 6-4 in the Big West. The Mustangs fell to 7-17, 2-8.

UH is now only one game behind second-place UC Irvine (14-12, 7-3), which visits the SSC at 7 p.m. Saturday.

“Really proud of our guys, to fight their way back to be in this position,” Warriors coach Eran Ganot said. “All of these games are battles.”

That was true Thursday night, despite Cal Poly never taking a lead.

The Warriors led, 38-31, at halftime but the Mustangs began the second half with a 9-2 run capped by Jakub Niziol’s 3-pointer from the right corner to tie it at 40-40 with 17:54 remaining in the game.

Hawai’i quickly took the lead back on a layup by Allen, and later used a 10-0 run capped by Purchase’s 3-pointer from the left corner to stretch it to 56-44 with 10:23 left.

“We’re more experienced now, we’ve been through almost every situation together, so we have the confidence that we can stick together and pull it out,” Allen said.

The Mustangs could not get closer than eight points the rest of the way.

“We were just focusing on the defensive end,” said Allen, who also had two steals and one block. “We knew they had a bunch of shooters, so that was one of the focuses coming in. I thought we did a pretty good job — they shot 8 for 21 (from 3-point range) but they’re a good shooting team and we did a pretty good job of running them off the line.”

That was especially true in the first half, when Cal Poly made just 9 of 24 field goals (37.5 percent), including only 2 of 10 from beyond the arc.

“I’m proud of our defensive effort,” Ganot said. “If you take away the isolation, if you take away that run in the first couple minutes of the second half, I thought we were really nails defensively. Finally, we’re rebounding (23 on the defensive end).”

Flaisher, a 6-foot-10 freshman, played nine relatively quiet minutes in the first half with two points and two rebounds. But he excited the crowd and his teammates with eight spirited second-half minutes in which he produced eight points and four boards.

“That’s what we need from him, to bring that energy off the bench,” Allen said. “He’s a freshman, so it’s hard to build that consistency, but recently he’s been real consistent so that’s really big for us and we’re all so happy for him.”

The Warriors built the lead to 72-58 after Johnson’s layup off Matt Owies’ assist with 1:52 remaining, effectively sealing the victory.

Johnson shot 7 for 10 from the field, and Purchase went 4 for 5 to help lead the Warriors to 50.9 percent shooting (29 for 57) for the game. It is only the second game this season that Hawai’i shot better than 50 percent from the field.

Another key statistic was turnovers. Cal Poly entered the game leading the Big West (and sixth in the nation) in fewest turnovers per game at 10.2, but the Mustangs tied their season-high with 16 against the Warriors. In contrast, Hawai’I tied its season-low with 10 turnovers.

UH also won despite starting guard Leland Green missing his second straight game due to a stomach virus.

Ganot said Green is “feeling better” but still was not sure of his availability for Saturday’s showdown against UC Irvine.

With six games remaining, the Warriors are still in a position to finish with a previously unexpected 16 or 17 wins and again challenge for the Big West regular season title — something very few people imagined would be possible.

But Ganot said he and his team are trying to stay focused on the now.

“We’re really locked in,” Ganot said. “We know we gotta get better. We just talk about daily progress … I think that’s helped us, it helped our group last year and I think it’s helped us this year.”

Focusing on Irvine should not be a problem, since the Anteaters handed Hawai’i a resounding 84-56 defeat on Jan. 7.

“They’re a really good team, so we have to come ready to play, for sure,” Allen said.

CLICK HERE to view boxscore

(Game photos courtesy Matt Osumi and Brandon Flores / www.brandonfloresphotography.com)

CLICK HERE to view photo gallery

Thursday’s Results
Long Beach State 78, at UC Riverside 71
at Hawai’i 74, Cal Poly 65

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

7 Comments

  1. Last year’s high flying team was exciting to watch. In a completely different way, this year’s team is also great to watch. It is exciting to see the progress of our coaches building a team and improving the individual players on it. When Ido went on “spin cycle” last night in the second half it was the nuts. He is going to develop into an exciting player that fits the mold of a Rainbow Warrior. You have to take pride in the way the bows have developed and the potential of things to come. Of course all of this wouldn’t be happening without Noah Allen’s contribution but it isn’t all him. Three other players had double digit games and Sheriff was one off. Early on in the season I posted I didn’t expect much from the bows but was looking forward to see them develop. They haven’t disappointed. To bad for those that haven’t come to the games or gotten involved in posting about the teams metamorphosis.

  2. 6500 turnstile saturday night…big game

  3. I wasn’t at the game last night but watched TV. Ido!!! They were calling him Ido Flusher after he made that dunk!

    It looked like Noah twisted his ankle near the end of the game. Any updates? We need him to have a chance against Irvine.

  4. Great watching these young players develop!

    I too hope Noah is ok for Saturday. Also Leland.

    Good to see Ido finally get a dunk! He is only going to get better
    As the years go on.

  5. Congrats to Ganot and the boys. They are really improving and starting to gel. Noah Allen is the best scorer in the Big West!

  6. Great win for the team. Once again Noah carried the team , keep pounding the ball inside ! Go Warriors. Put yourselves in Beast Mode Saturday nite! All the fans come and support our Warriors !

  7. This team is even better than the Gib years (.500 record, 4th in Big West).

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