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UPDATED: Warriors find defense in road rout of CSUN

The University of Hawai’i basketball team found its missing defense in a convincing 65-46 road victory at CSUN on Saturday at the Matadome in Northridge, Calif.

Two days after its worst defensive performance of the season, Hawai’i had its best defensive showing against the Matadors to earn its first Big West Conference win and first road win of this season.

The Rainbow Warriors led the game from start to finish, and was not really challenged in the second half in improving their records to 10-5 overall and 1-1 in the Big West.

The lowly Matadors, who are the lowest-rated team in NCAA Division I in RPI rankings, dropped to 3-12 and 0-1.

“I’m just really proud of the way our guys bounced back,” Hawai’i head coach Eran Ganot said. “They’re enjoying this. We talked about this, we’re 5-0 after a loss. This is our third road game and we wanted to see how we bounced back.”

Mike Thomas and Drew Buggs posted double-doubles to lead the Warriors. Thomas, a 6-foot-7 senior forward, had 24 points and 11 rebounds. Buggs, a 6-3 freshman guard, had 11 points and a career-best 10 assists.

Thomas, who is from Woodland Hills, near Northridge, shot 10 for 11 from the field and 4 for 5 on free throws. He had 18 points and six rebounds in the first half, when the Warriors established control of the game.

“I think it was just my teammates finding me,” Thomas said. “We had a gameplan it was to attack them inside and play our game normally. We didn’t do that against Long Beach (on Thursday) and we wanted to come out and have a good game.”

Ganot added: “Mike played 34 minutes, missed one shot, shot 10 for 11, didn’t turn it over, 24 points, 11 boards. You can see his influence when he stays out of foul trouble. I think he was the igniter of everything today. You could feel it. Credit to him. He was a stud today, he was our senior captain and imposed his will.”

On Thursday, the Warriors allowed season highs of 89 points and a .633 field goal percentage, and grabbed a season-low 21 rebounds in an 89-81 loss at Long Beach State. It was practically the opposite on Saturday, when Hawai’i allowed season lows of 46 points and a .275 field goal percentage while winning the rebound battle, 39-34.

“The deal was whether we could defend and rebound,” Ganot said. “They answered that today.”

The tone was set in the opening minutes. The Warriors raced to a 14-2 lead to open the game, with Drammeh (five) and Thomas (four) combining for nine of the early points. They increased the lead to 19-4 following a 3-pointer by Brocke Stepteau that came immediately off a highlight reel blocked shot by Thomas.

A breakaway dunk by Thomas pushed the Hawai’i lead to 25-7 with 9:06 remaining in the first half. The Warriors led by as many as 21, and eventually took a 38-24 lead at halftime.

Hawai’i scored the first five points of the second half, and turned it into a rout a few minutes later.

“It gives us a boost,” Thomas said. “It tells that we can win on the road. We’ve had some tough games on the road where we struggled, so it’s just nice to get back to who we are.”

Gibson Johnson added eight points,10 rebounds and three blocks, and Drammeh scored eight points for the Warriors.

Tavrion Dawson led CSUN with 12 points and seven rebounds, and Lyric Shreiner added 11 points and seven boards.

“I give Hawai’i credit,” CSUN head coach Reggie Theus said. “Hawai’i is not that much different than we are. They have a bunch of guys that contribute, but their level of physicality was doubled than our guys tonight. That really was it. I was more disappointed in that than anything.”

It was Hawai’i’s seventh consecutive victory over CSUN, including four in the Matadome.

The Warriors are scheduled to return to Honolulu on Sunday, and their next four games will be at home. They will host Cal Poly on Wednesday, January 10, at 7 p.m. at the Stan Sheriff Center.

CLICK HERE to view boxscore

(Game photos courtesy Warren Haraki)

CLICK HERE to view photo gallery

Big West Conference
Saturday’s Results

Hawai’i 65, at CSUN 46
Cal State Fullerton 101, at Cal Poly 97 (OT)
at UC Irvine 86, Long Beach State 73
at UC Santa Barbara 65, UC Riverside 57

1 Comment

  1. Great job imposing your will fellas! Hawaii shares the ball better than any team in this league!

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