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Warriors hold off UC Santa Barbara, 77-76

Gibson Johnson scored 18 points and Brocke Stepteau added 12 points and five assists tonight to help Hawai’i hold off visiting UC Santa Barbara, 77-76, in thrilling Big West Conference men’s basketball action.

A spirited crowd of about 6,500 at the Stan Sheriff Center watched Mike Thomas and Sheriff Drammeh each add 11 points as the Warriors improved to 12-5 overall, 3-1 in the Big West. The Gauchos fell to 12-5, 1-2.

UH led, 42-33, at halftime and stretched the lead to 55-39 after an 11-3 run capped by Johnson’s layup off Stehteau’s assist with 15:45 remaining. But UCSB chipped away and eventually drew to 64-63 after an 11-5 surge culminating in Gabe Vincent’s driving layup with 4:10 left.

Drew Buggs appeared to seal the victory when he buried a 3-pointer from the right corner to put the Warriors up, 72-65, with 50 seconds showing on the clock, but Max Heidegger answered with three straight free throws seven seconds later to close it to 72-68. Heidegger, who scored a game-high 19 points, later swished a high-arching 25-footer from well beyond the top of the key to close it to 76-73 with 9.2 ticks remaining.

After Johnson sank one of two free throws one second later, the Gauchos worked the ball to Marcus Jackson, who drained a 3-pointer from the right corner as time expired.

Hawai’i’s next game is scheduled for January 20, when it will host UC Davis at the Sheriff Center.

More details, including video highlights and interviews, will be posted later.

Big West Conference
Saturday’s Results

at Cal State Fullerton 85, UC Davis 70
Long Beach State 75, at UC Riverside 68
UC Irvine 71, at CSUN 54
at Hawai’i 77, UC Santa Barbara 76

(Game photo courtesy Brandon Flores)

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