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UPDATED: Princeton shoots past Warriors, 77-63

Filling up the net quickly and often like a last-minute stocking stuffer, Princeton rode a torrid second half to shoot past Hawai’i, 77-63, on Christmas morning to claim fifth place in the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic.

A seemingly sleepy crowd of 1,627 at the Stan Sheriff Center watched Tigers guard Devin Cannady score 26 of his game-high 28 points after halftime and also grab a game-high eight rebounds with three assists to help Princeton even its record at 7-7. Mike Thomas scored 22 points — including 19 in the first half — and grabbed seven boards and Brocke Stepteau added 15 points for the Warriors, who fell to 8-4.

The game was tied at 31-31 at intermission, but the Tigers began the second half with a 12-2 run capped by eight straight points (a jumper and back-to-back 3-pointers) from Cannady to give Princeton a 43-33 lead with 14:34 remaining. After Drew Buggs answered with a layup 18 seconds later to cut it to 43-35, Cannady drained another 3-pointer to ignite a 14-7 surge capped by Jerome Desrosiers’ jump hook to extend the lead at 57-42 with 6:44 left.

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

“Tough one today,” Warriors coach Eran Ganot said. “Credit Princeton, credit them for coming in here and getting a win against us on our home court and really taking over the second half — that was the difference in the game. It’s disappointing … I’m proud of our guys, I love our guys, I think the guys are battling. But we have this recurring theme of the way we start our second halves. Great teams start off well, which I think we’ve done, and they’re (also) great second half teams, especially in the first five minutes. Credit (the Tigers), because they were better in that stretch, and that’s what good teams do.”

Hawai’i struggled to make shots from the free-throw line (9 for 20) and beyond the 3-point line (2 for 11). In particular, Thomas (2 for 7) and Gibson Johnson (1 for 5) went a combined 3 for 12 on free throws, and Leland Green (0 for 3) and Jack Purchase (0 for 2) went a combined 0 for 5 from 3-point range and both finished the game scoreless.

“I think we’re gonna be pretty dang good when we’re all clicking at the same time, and I think it’s gonna happen,” Ganot said. “I think each of those guys has had flashes … but overall, they compound problems because they want it so bad. We’ve got a special group of kids, but for us to take it up a notch to the level we want to be, we need to be clicking at the same time. We know we’re capable of it, but … the way we can (do it) is if we defend, which we didn’t.”

At least not in the second half.

In the first 20 minutes, the Warriors went toe-to-toe with Princeton despite the Tigers shooting 52.2 percent (12 for 23) from the field, including 41.7 percent (5 for 12) from 3-point range. UH led 11-7 after a 5-0 run capped by a layup by Stepteau with 13:40 remaining, but Princeton responded with a 9-2 surge as Cannady’s layup put the Tigers ahead, 16-13, at the midway point.

Princeton twice pushed the lead to four points (19-15 and 22-18), but the Warriors stayed close and actually took the lead back at 31-30 on Thomas’ layup with 1:12 left. Amir Bell’s free throw tied it at 31-31 with 4.7 seconds remaining, and Buggs’ coast-to-coast floater banked in as time expired, but was taken off the board after video replays showed the ball still in his hand when the horn sounded.

There was no such drama in the second half, as Cannady — a fluid 6-foot-1, 185-pound junior — rained in jumpers from near, mid-range and afar, as well as the free throw line (12 for 16). After a quiet first half in which he went 1 for 4 from the field (0 for 2 from beyond the arc), went 6 for 9 in the second half.

“We switched the matchups on him, we tried different guys,” Ganot said. “I’ll say this: You want to be in a situation where you defend and they hit a tough shot, like some of his pull-ups. But a guy like that gets going when you have some lapses and give up 3’s, and we had too many lapses against him and their team, that got him really comfortable. So, you learn the hard way.”

After Aaron Young’s deep 3-pointer from well beyond the top of the key put the Tigers up, 64-48, with 4:36 left, Hawai’i made one last run and closed it to 67-59 on Stepteau’s driving layup with 2:08 remaining. But Princeton sealed the victory by hitting 8 of 10 free throws down the stretch.

“We’ll give them credit, they played well, and No. 3 (Cannady) hit some big shots for them,” said Thomas, who managed only two shot attempts after halftime. “We talked about it, we just came out lackadaisical. Our stance, our hands … even things like that, we just didn’t come to play defensively, mainly, in the second half.”

Stepteau said the Warriors’ second-half struggles on offense — 1 for 6 shooting from 3-point range and 7 of 17 from the free throw line — had a negative effect on the other end of the court.

“They’re a tough team to prepare for, but they’re similar to Davidson, and we did a good job against Davidson,” Stepteau said. “In the second half, when we hit a drought offensively, not scoring, we let that affect our defense. When you’re not scoring, that’s when you need to pick up your defense even more, and we didn’t do that. No. 3, once he got going, he didn’t miss the rest of the game and that’s basically why we lost.”

UH returns to action for its final non-conference game at 7 p.m. Friday against Howard at the SSC.

“We’ll work, we’ll watch film, we’ll get on the floor and we’ll continue to develop our guys,” Ganot said.

USC defeated New Mexico State, 77-72, in the championship game of the three-day Diamond Head Classic. The Trojans, who won the inaugural Diamond Head Classic in 2009, became the first two-time champion of the tournament. Bennie Boatwright scored 33 points to lead the Trojans to the title, and he was named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament.

CLICK HERE to view boxscore

(Game photos courtesy Brandon Flores and Chris Kadooka)

CLICK HERE to view photo gallery

Monday’s Results
Championship: USC 77, New Mexico State 72
Third Place: Miami 84, Middle Tennessee 81
Fifth Place: Princeton 77, Hawai’i 63
Seventh Place: Davidson 91, Akron 78

4 Comments

  1. Disappointing loss for the Warriors. They didn’t show up to play against a team we should have beaten from he Ivy League Confernece with a losing record. Poor offensive output from our back court , inconsistencies is hurting us. Purchase and Green need to score in double figures if we’re going to make a mark in the Big West this year. We kept up with Miami in the first half but the second half showed we don’t have the talent to sustain the drive for two halves Hopefully our guard play will improve by regular season time Warriors can’t take any nights off. If you want to be Champions, PLAY LIKE CHAMPIONS! COME ON!

  2. Seems like Brocke is most consistent guard. True. Great guard play offensively and defensively wins championships. Eran has to pipeline really talented guards. The big men benefit from their play.
    Should be interesting to see how season 3 plays out. We are rooting for team. Coaches get team ready. New year. Real season begins. Still can have great season.

  3. BigWest conference play should be level
    playing field for Hawaii. Think that Princeton can win their league go NCAA.
    Miami , Nevada, and Utah road losses , could see that different level of basketball.
    2018 should be new life for team
    No way warriors lose to Howard bisons.
    Go Bows!

  4. Pomeroy currently has UCSB,UC Davis, UC Irvine and Fullerton ranked above Hawaii.
    Sagarin has UCSB, UC Davis and Fullerton ranked above UH.

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