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UPDATED: Nevada hands Hawai’i first loss of this season

Facing its best opponent so far this season Friday night, the University of Hawai’i men’s basketball team suffered through its worst offensive outing, and the end result was a 67-54 non-conference victory for visiting Nevada.

An energized “Green-Out” crowd of 6,309 (tickets issued) at the Stan Sheriff Center watched Caleb Martin score a game-high 22 points with six rebounds and twin brother Cody Martin add 16 points and seven boards as the Wolf Pack improved to 6-0.

Brocke Stepteau scored 10 points to lead the Warriors, who fell to 3-1.

Jordan Caroline added 13 points and five rebounds for Nevada, which received 19 points in this week’s AP Top 25 voting — good for 30th place overall.

“I’m displeased with the result, obviously, (but) I think No. 1, as always, you gotta give (the Wolf Pack) credit,” UH coach Eran Ganot said. “They’re a good ball club, good team, well-coached — on the cusp of being in the Top 25 coming in, and I think they should be in the Top 25 on Monday, and rightfully so. They’re very potent, and present a lot of problems on both ends.”

The Warriors held a slim lead for much of the early going, but Caroline sank two free throws with 8:30 remaining in the first half to ignite a 16-7 run capped by Caleb Martin’s layup that put Nevada ahead, 29-23, with 1:42 left. Martin, a fluid and highly skilled 6-foot-7 junior forward who began his career at North Carolina State, then finished the half with a nifty spin move for a layup and a 3-pointer from the right wing to help the Wolf Pack take a 34-24 lead into the locker room.

Hawai’i got into some early foul trouble, with leading scorer Mike Thomas picking up his second foul three minutes into the game and starting post Gibson Johnson getting whistled for his second foul with 13:22 still showing in the first half. The Warriors also hurt themselves at the free throw line, where they converted just 4 of 11 attempts in the first 20 minutes.

“I was pleased with our defensive effort against a team like that, (but) not so much with our inability to defend without fouling, which is a recurring theme that we need to work on,” Ganot said. “We gave ourselves a chance, which is impressive because our offense was out of sorts. This is the fourth straight game where we’re at 15 turnovers plus, 17 tonight. We battled on the boards, and we defended well, take away the fouling.

“It’s that you can’t shoot that poorly and turn it over 17 times. Obviously we need to shoot it better. I think the things are clear — we gotta take care of the ball, we gotta shoot it better, and we gotta defend without fouling.”

UH rallied midway through the second half to close it to 46-42 after Sheriff Drammeh’s running banker from the left side with 8:52 remaining, but the Warriors would then score only one field goal over the next seven minutes as Nevada steadily pulled away.

“We just didn’t take care of the ball,” said Stepteau, a junior point guard who finished with two assists and one turnover to go along with his team-high 10 points. “And we didn’t shoot the ball well, either from the field or the free throw line, so there’s a lot things we didn’t do very well. We just gotta keep on working on those things, we gotta get better.”

Cody Martin sank one of two free throws to make it 47-42 with 7:53 remaining, and then Lindsey Drew scored on a spin move and drop shot in the lane before adding a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 6:50 left. On the very next possession, Drew drained another 3-pointer from the top of the key to extend the lead to 55-46 with 5:43 remaining, and Hawai’i could only respond with a free throw by Drammeh over the next four minutes.

“They’re an athletic team, a big team — a lot of times, their smallest player is 6-5, so they can switch a lot of things (on defense),” Stepteau said. “And when you can switch everything, that takes away a lot of your open looks. Some of the looks that are normally open and easy for us, aren’t so easy.”

Ganot said the defensive focus was on the Martin twins and 6-7 swingman Jordan Caroline, but that trio combined for 45 points and guard Lindsey Drew added a fourth dimension.

“I felt we guarded some of their actions well, but Drew’s first 3 — we had a soft hand on him,” Ganot said. “At a critical time … you might bring some help in there, but once you’re guarding the guy one-on-one, you gotta get a hand up there. The next one, he hit in transition, and a lot of times that happens, once you make one, you get a little comfortable. (But) give him a lot of credit — I thought those were the biggest plays of the game.”

The Warriors finished the game making just 3 of 16 attempts from 3-point range, and only 11 of 21 free throws. They also committed 17 turnovers and shot 38.5 percent from the field overall.

UH returns to action at 7 p.m. Monday vs. Adams State at the SSC.

“We’ll go to work and practice (Saturday), fix the things we need to focus on,” Thomas said. “I mean, there is no other option. We won’t just sit there and sulk.”

Stepteau agreed.

“We can’t hang our heads after that. We’re 3-1 and have another team coming in Monday … these next days of practice, that is how we’ll respond.”

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(Photos courtesy Brandon Flores / www.brandonfloresphotography.com)

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5 Comments

  1. The team’s poor showing wasn’t helped by having a bye at thie beginning of the season. Truly the worst showing by our team Too many missed free throws. Unacceptable. Countless missed jump shots and layups Poor decisions by some who had a easy shot inside the key only to turn around and pass it off. Worst game I’ve ever seen Jack Purxhase play. Everyone needs to show up to play with some vengeance Monday. The crowd needs to show up and support our team. They need to play like Warriors against Adams State. ! Ganot needs to get this team engaged now! Let’s go guys !

  2. The team’s poor showing wasn’t helped by having a bye at thie beginning of the season. Truly the worst showing by our team Too many missed free throws. Unacceptable. Countless missed jump shots and layups Poor decisions by some who had a easy shot inside the key only to turn around and pass it off. Worst game I’ve ever seen Jack Purxhase play. Everyone needs to show up to play with some vengeance Monday. The crowd needs to show up and support our team. They need to play like Warriors against Adams State. ! Ganot needs to get this team engaged now! Let’s go guys !

  3. Jack was the leading rebounder for the game with 8 and also had 2 blocks.
    Brocke’s FG Pct for four games is .764 .

  4. Good highlights, they show the things for UH to work on, too.
    Brocke could be a coach in the future.
    Turnstile: 4,579

  5. UCSD expected to announce on Monday that it has been accepted into the Big West. However, it takes at least six years to reach full Div I status. ( sandiegouniontribune.com, Nov 25)

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