UPDATED: Warriors fall at Long Beach; rematch set for March 9 at Big West Tournament
Well, at least the University of Hawai’i basketball team gets a chance for a do-over now.
The Warriors closed the regular season with an 84-75 road loss at Long Beach State on Saturday afternoon at Long Beach, Calif. A crowd of 3,021 at Walter Pyramid watched the 49ers pull away in the closing minutes of what was otherwise a close game throughout.
The same teams will meet again on March 9 in a quarterfinal game of the Big West Conference Tournament at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. That game is scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m. (Hawai’i time) and will be televised on Fox Sports Prime Ticket.
Hawai’i finished the regular season at 14-15 overall, and in fifth place in the Big West at 8-8. Long Beach improved to 14-18 overall and finished in fourth place in the conference at 9-7. The teams split the regular-season series, with each team winning at home.
“I think it’s awesome,” Hawai’i head coach Eran Ganot said of the opportunity to face Long Beach State twice in a six-day span. “I think it’s great; I think it’s intense. We say conference play is what you live for with the scouting, and everybody knowing each other so well. What about the second time around, and now the third time around? We’re staying here in a hotel for the next couple days and we have to focus on Long Beach, but it’s going to be fresh in our minds.”
Noah Allen led the Warriors with 21 points and seven rebounds, and freshman Leland Green added 14 points and seven rebounds off the bench. Sheriff Drammeh contributed 12 points and six assists, and Gibson Johnson finished with 10 points and five rebounds despite suffering from an illness prior to the game.
Starting forward Jack Purchase fell to the court with an ankle injury with 11:46 remaining in the first half, and was assisted to the sidelines. He did not return, and finished with three points in eight minutes of action.
“We’re getting more word,” Ganot said. “In the moment, obviously, it was not good. It was very clear he was not going to be back with us today. We’re going to re-evaluate right now. (Team trainer) Jay Goo does a great job, and Jack certainly feels a lot better … he rolled it pretty good.”
There were seven lead changes in the first half, and Hawai’i led by as many as six points (28-22) with 8:58 remaining in the half.
Hawai’i’s last lead was at 31-28 after Drammeh drained a 3-pointer with 7:47 remaining in the first half. The 49ers responded with an 11-0 run to take a 39-31 lead with 5:09 remaining in the first half, and they eventually took a 45-39 advantage at intermission.
The 49ers shot 62.5 percent (20 for 32) from the field in the first half, with 6-foot-7 forward Temidayo Yussuf scoring 13 in the first half on 6-for-6 shooting.
Yussuf finished with a game-high 23 points on 9-for-9 shooting. Noah Blackwell added 17 points, including 5-for-9 shooting from 3-point range, and Roschon Prince had a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds for Long Beach.
The 49ers maintained the lead the entire second half, but could never pull away from the Warriors until the closing minutes. Hawai’i got as close as 65-64 with 6:44 remaining on a jumper by Drammeh, but Long Beach answered immediately with a jumper by Evan Payne on the ensuing possession to ignite a 7-0 run that increased the 49ers’ lead to 72-64 with 4:22 left. The Warriors never threatened the lead in the game’s final four minutes.
Several missed shots from close range, and 12-for-21 shooting (57.1 percent) on free throws ultimately cost Hawai’i.
“The (missed) layups have been a recurring theme for us the entire season,” Ganot said. “The free throws have been a recurring theme for us recently. You can’t have the double whammy there. You couldn’t ask for some better shots around the rim. We’re going to get back to work. That was about as disappointing a defensive effort in the first half. The clear focus for us was to clean it up in the second (half), but we gotta make bunnies around the rim.”
The 49ers finiahed the game with a .542 field goal percentage, and out-rebounded the Warriors, 35-28. Hawai’i finished with a .464 field goal percentage, including .579 (11 for 19) from 3-point range.
Long Beach head coach Dan Monson said: “We’ve got to find a good balance and hopefully play even better on Thursday. Obviously, this was the easy one of the two. It was the one at home, and the one that doesn’t mean as much. We’ve got to understand that we’re in for a very difficult game on Thursday, but that’s what tournament time is for.”
UC Irvine won the Big West Conference regular-season championship and earned the No. 1 seed for the conference tournament with a 79-49 win over UC Davis on Saturday.
The winner of the Hawai’i-Long Beach State game on Thursday will face the winner of the UC Irvine-UC Riverside game in the semifinals.
(Game photos courtesy Warren Haraki)
at UC Irvine 79, UC Davis 49
UC Santa Barbara 57, at Cal Poly 44
Cal State Fullerton 86, at CSUN 78
at Long Beach State 84, Hawai’i 75
Big West Conference Tournament
At Anaheim, Calif.
Thursday, March 9
UC Davis vs. Cal Poly
Cal State Fullerton vs. CSUN
UC Irvine vs. UC Riverside
Long Beach State vs. Hawai’i, 6:30 p.m. (Hawai’i time)
Friday, March 10
Semifinals, 4:30 and 7:00 p.m. (Hawai’i time)
Saturday, March 11
Championship, 6:30 p.m. (Hawai’i time)
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