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UPDATED: Warriors drop Big West opener at Long Beach

The mystery of the Pyramid will remain unsolved for another year for the University of Hawai’i basketball team.

The Rainbow Warriors struggled to defend the rim in an 89-81 loss at Long Beach State in the Big West Conference regular-season opener on Thursday night at Long Beach, Calif. As a result, Hawai’i dropped to 9-5 overall, and 0-6 in the 49ers’ Walter Pyramid since joining the Big West Conference in the 2012-13 season.

Long Beach State shot 63.3 percent from the field, with most of the made baskets coming “in the paint.” It is the highest percentage for a UH opponent since Eran Ganot became head coach in 2015.

In particular, 6-foot-5 forward Barry Ogalue scored 21 points on 9-for-10 shooting, 6-7, 230-pound forward Gabe Levin had 18 points on 6-for-10 shooting, and 6-7, 265-pound center Temidayo Yussuf had 18 points on 6-for-8 shooting for the 49ers.

“Defend, rebound, take care of the ball; that’s what our program is about,” Hawai’i head coach Eran Ganot said. “It’s what it’s about because that’s how you win on the road … today we were 0 for 3. We defended as poorly as we’ve ever defended in the last three years, down 13 (rebounds) on the glass, and turned it over 16 times. We were very fortunate to be in the game with all that going on.”

The Hawai’i offense shot well enough, going 31 for 64 (48.4 percent) from the field, including 11 for 27 (40.7 percent) from 3-point range.

Brocke Stepteau led the Warriors with a career-high 19 points on 7-for-12 shooting. Sheriff Drammeh added 15 points, Drew Buggs had 14 points and five assists, and Mike Thomas finished with 10 points, although he was limited to 17 minutes due to foul trouble.

Hawai’i grabbed a season-low 21 rebounds, while Long Beach State collected 34. In another glaring statistic, the 49ers went 26 for 31 on free throws and the Warriors were 8 for 11.

“When you shoot 41 percent from 3 on the road, you usually have a chance, and we did,” Ganot said. “That’s probably why we overcame some of these other deals, but our work inside, our flipping up the ball at the rim, our inability to get to the free throw line, all that … we have to look at that see how we can finish stronger with contact so we can get to the line and not fade.”

The lead changed six times in the first half, before the 49ers took the lead for good with 8:32 remaining in the first half. Long Beach eventually took a 46-38 lead at intermission while shooting 65.5 percent in the first half.

The 49ers stayed in control the entire second half, and built their lead to as many as 14. The Warriors cut the lead to four in the final minute, but the 49ers secured the victory at the free throw line.

Point guard Deishuan Booker added 18 points, including 7 for 7 free-throw shooting, for the 49ers. Long Beach played without starting guard and top shooter Bryan Alberts, who sat out with a knee injury.

The Warriors will remain in Southern California for another conference road game – at CSUN on Saturday at Northridge, Calif. That game is scheduled to start at 5:00 p.m. Hawai’i time (7:00 Pacific), and will be available via Internet video stream at www.espn3.com.

CSUN, which did not play on Thursday, is 3-11 overall and has a current RPI of 351 (last among all teams in NCAA Division I).

CLICK HERE to view boxscore

(Game photos courtesy Warren Haraki)

CLICK HERE to view photo gallery

Big West Conference
Wednesday/Thursday Results

Cal State Fullerton 68, UC Riverside 65
Cal Poly 80, UC Santa Barbara 79
UC Davis 64, UC Irvine 53
Long Beach State 89, Hawai’i 81

Saturday’s Games
Cal State Fullerton at Cal Poly
Hawai’i at CSUN
Long Beach State at UC Irvine
UC Riverside at UC Santa Barbara

Highlight video below courtesy www.bigwest.org

7 Comments

  1. Long Beach is a hard match for the Bows big men especially when Mike T got in foul trouble. Even the big bodies for Long Beach like Yussuf and Levin were quicker than our guys inside. Brocke and Buggs kept us in the game but I really don’t want to rely on those two every game.

    Up next is only the second game of Big West and already UH in must win situation at CSUN.

  2. Zigmars is far from being a complete basketball player, but he seemed to be the only guy on the team who wasn’t afraid to compete down low with Yussuf. Wished he could have gotten a few more minutes in this one.

    Mike really needs to start commanding the post. He is way to athletic/talented to be playing at the level he has so far this season.

  3. I agree that Zigmars played tough at the end, but I don’t agree to give him more minutes. He came in late in the game when he was fresh and LB already had a good lead so they were slowing it down. LB was using a half-court press early in the game and Zigmars is not the guy to have in there against speed pressure.

  4. I agree that giving Zigmars more minutes is not the answer most of the time and he offers little in breaking a press. However with the type of press LB was running, Mike and Gib were not being asked to help much to break the pressure. In this particular situation, I don’t think Zigmars would have been put in a situation where the negatives of his ball handling would have outweighed what he could have given us in toughness/hustle.

    It was just frustrating to see us consistently bullied in the post, with few adjustments that led to any success. I know it’s all hindsight and some of the calls seemed to favor LB, but I am optimistic next time we play them at home.

  5. Ziggy was good, including 2 steals, 3 rebounds and 3 pts.

  6. IIRC, the press didn’t really hurt UH. Many of the turnovers occurred in half court while trying to set up the offense. There must have been a half-dozen “pick 6s,” to quote Ganot, when a steal turned into a layup at the other end.

    Levin and Yussuf are tough matchups, but their contributions were expected so I thought Ogalue was the wild card. All he did was score a career-high 21 on 9-for-10 shooting — 90 percent from the field? Are you kidding me? He was a matchup nightmare.

    What also hurt was UH’s inability to close the gap while Levin and Yussuf sat for prolonged minutes in the second half. Bet Monson was pleased that his backups were able to sustain the lead during that time.

    Well, a must-win at CSUN tomorrow.

  7. Zigmars plays smart and I think he should get more minutes. UH was outplayed in the middle from the very start of the game. We needed help inside and Zigmars was the guy to go to – to pull the team together. It looks like Ido can just benefit from extra playing time especially when the other bigs are having an off night.
    MT is on and off. Looks like he has health problems. Sometimes he is very stiff and clumsy. Gib might have just had an off night and I expect him to come back. But MT, ouch man, what is wrong?
    Didn’t see Purchase using his high post turn-around jumper from the FT line. We need to see much, much, more of that. It’s a high percentage unstoppable shot and he does it well.

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