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UPDATED: Warriors stunned at home again, this time by CSUN, 77-71

Joining an increasingly long buffet line, visiting Cal State Northridge became the latest team to feast on Hawai’i’s soft defense as the Matadors sped past the Warriors, 77-71, in Big West Conference men’s basketball action Saturday night.

A hungry but unsatisfied crowd of 5,945 (tickets issued) at the Stan Sheriff Center watched Tavrion Dawson and Michael Warren each score 22 points Terrell Gomez add 16 points for the Matadors, who snapped a five-game losing streak and improved to 6-19 overall and 3-8 in the Big West. Drew Buggs scored 17 points and Mike Thomas added 14 points for UH, which dropped its fifth straight game in falling to 13-10, 4-6.

“We haven’t stopped the bleeding on our lack of intensity on the defensive end,” Warriors coach Eran Ganot said. “I’m disappointed that it’s not changing … There’s a difference between feeling (that it’s just) a matter of time because of your defense and your rebounding, but right now you’re just trying to hopefully trade baskets. We’re not deserving of a successful result if we defend like that.

“But credit Northridge, because they worked hard, they outplayed us and outworked us, and they played very united.”

The victory was CSUN’s first victory in Hawai’i since December 1998, ending a streak of seven consecutive losses by the Matadors in the Sheriff Center. It also ended a seven-game losing streak by CSUN against Hawai’i as Big West members (the last time CSUN beat Hawai’i was in 2014 at Anaheim, Calif.).

CSUN head coach Reggie Theus said: “I think it’s important for our program, important for the psyche of our players. This is a tough place to play. The trip is tough. We went to Pearl Harbor yesterday, did some team bonding and we tried to stay focused. The bottom line is you want to do some things as a team when you come here. In the end, we had to refocus them when we got to gym. It kept them loose, and kept them together. I just thought their attitude was fantastic. Hawai’i is a tough to place to win, so it’s a big win for our program.”

The Warriors led 16-9 in the early going Saturday night, but then Gomez capped a 12-5 run with a 3-pointer to tie it at 21-21 with 8:38 remaining in the first half. Warren later gave the Matadors the lead for good at 30-29 on a jumper with 3:18 left, igniting a 9-0 run culminating in Jalon Pipkins’ layup on a baseline drive which put CSUN ahead, 37-29, with 1:07 remaining.

Jack Purchase hit a jumper from the right elbow 20 seconds later to close it to 37-31, which is how it stood at halftime.

UH committed 11 turnovers in the first half, and allowed the Matadors to shoot 62.5 percent (15 of 24) from the field.

“(Those are) two glaring, incredibly tough numbers — 11 turnovers might have been the second-worst thing; the defense (was first),” Ganot said. “That’s how fortunate we were, how were we down only six? You turn it over 11 times and defend at an ‘F’ level … those were the two points of emphasis; we were able to fix one.”

The Warriors closed it to 42-39 after Gibson Johnson’s free throw five minutes into the second half, but that is as close as they would get as CSUN eventually stretched the lead to 72-56 after Pipkins’ reverse layup capped a 7-0 run with 3:18 left.

The Matadors shot a torrid 68.4 percent from the field (13 of 19) in the second half, with Dawson going 6 for 9, Warren hitting 3 of 5 (including two 3-pointers) and Gomez going 3 for 4 (also including two 3-pointers).

“We’re going through a stretch right now where we don’t have a whole lot of defensive pride, and that’s something we’ve always focused on,” Johnson said. “Letting guys like (Dawson) do work around the paint — that’s not what we’re about, but unfortunately that’s what we’ve been giving up lately. We’ll come together and figure this thing out.”

Buggs said the issue was similar with Warren and Gomez on the perimeter and on dribble-drives.

“I think Gibson said it (right), we’re going through a stretch where we just don’t have that competitiveness on defense,” Buggs said. “Against good players, you can’t have breakdowns for any possessions and give them the open look and let them get going, and we did that. And it hurt us in the end.”

Overall, CSUN shot 65.1 percent from the field (28 of 43), including 46.7 percent (7 of 15) from 3-point range. It is the highest percentage for a Hawai’i opponent in at least 15 years.

Just one month ago, the Warriors beat the Matadors, 57-45, at Northridge, Calif., and CSUN shot just 27.5 percent from the field in that game. Now, CSUN is one of three Big West opponents that shot at least 60 percent from the field against Hawai’i this season.

“I’m not sure we’ve had many (opponents) over 50 (percent) the past three years, but all of a sudden it’s a trend, it’s a reality,” Ganot said. “I’m not sure the defensive pride is where it needs to be. Right now we’re struggling to keep the guy in front — that’s from all five positions. Our floor positions have gone away a bit, and our intensity got away … Guys are very comfortable against us, and it’s a shame.”

The current five-game losing streak against conference opponents is the longest since the 2010-11 team lost five straight Western Athletic Conference games. After consecutive losses to the league’s bottom three teams, Hawai’i now goes back on the road for a Thursday game at second-place UC Irvine (13-14, 8-3).

“My feeling (about the next game) is always good — if it’s not, then what’s the point?” Ganot said. “I have, and I have to continue to have, belief that we’re going to turn it around … If I didn’t, then we would just shut it down, and that’s not going to happen here. We’re going to start with — as we always do — go to work, we’ll look at it, and see what we need to do in terms of our fundamentals, and then see what we’re going to do schematically.

“I think our teams have always been united and motivated throughout the entire year, I think we’ve always taken pride in that we’ve always gotten better, and by the end of the year we’re at our best. But this is probably the first time since I’ve been here that it’s not happening currently. The positive perspective is everything, that we do have time to turn it around — if we take advantage of it.

“The positive is that we’ve got a great group of guys, I know they care about it. I think we all have to step up, and embrace the struggle. This thing hurts, it’s very painful. But we have to do something about it, instead of just taking it.”

CLICK HERE to view boxscore

(Game photos courtesy Brandon Flores / www.brandonfloresphotography.com)

CLICK HERE to view photo gallery

Big West Conference
Saturday’s Results

Cal State Fullerton 68, at UC Davis 66
UC Irvine 62, at UC Riverside 52
at Long Beach State 73, Cal Poly 54
CSUN 77, at Hawai’i 71

Wednesday’s Game, Feb. 14
UC Riverside at CSUN

Thursday’s Games, Feb. 15
UC Davis at Cal Poly
UC Santa Barbara at Long Beach State
Hawai’i at UC Irvine, 6:00 p.m. HT

Saturday’s Games, Feb. 17
UC Davis at UC Santa Barbara
CSUN at Cal State Fullerton
UC Irvine at Cal Poly
Hawai’i at UC Riverside, 5:30 p.m. HT

5 Comments

  1. Questionable coaching move ieith 4 min left in game , Ganot takes Thomas out with 3 fouls ! What are you saving him for! We. Needed his inside scoring and rebounding and he doesn’t belong outside trying to jack threes ! Let him play the game out ! We’re down and need to catch up! Totally disgusted with the play of our team for the past 5 games This is the worst performance over the past years since Benji left.

  2. The warriors need to play with AGRESSION ITS GETTI G HARD TO WATCH OUR TEAM GETTING THEIR BUTTA KICKED BY THE CELLAR DWELLERS ON OUR HOME COURT ! NOW U GOTTA WIN ON THE ROAD!

  3. The warriors need to play with AGRESSION ITS GETTI G HARD TO WATCH OUR TEAM GETTING THEIR BUTTA KICKED BY THE CELLAR DWELLERS ON OUR HOME COURT ! NOW U GOTTA WIN ON THE ROAD!

  4. Really apparent, the Bigwest teams, that have those athletic, quick, guards, the bigs who can score in the paint and hit mid range as well as they make 8 threes, shoot 50 percent, AT HAWAII Stan Sheriff Center, I thought the Fullerton game was a only once in a season loss at home for Hawaii, they would hold serve and finish 7-1. It will be a battle to stay in 6th place, or be at bottom trying to qualify for BWC tourney at 8th seed. look at the 5 teams above UH, all at 7wins to 8 wins already, incredible… Warriors can still win the BWC tournament, .. Wallace team did it in the past in 1994, coming in I believe with a .500 record in WAC play or worse, they got hot, for three games, and upset BYU for the ncaa bid.

    However, .. it seems like the most reliable, prime time scorers , playmakers , are Mike T. and Brocke S. Two guys from another recruiting class, one, a very valuable walkon from Dallas, Stepteau. Eran has to recruit better talent. And he has to go off season, to get help in coaching schemes like how Riley, did, and even another former coach did.. Got their teams, really at a competitive level for NCAA run. I thought the Bigwest conf. Ganot and whatever talent he had would just dominate. I guess that first year, he had the leftover talent, that just was ready to make historic run. I Like Ganot defense. and the discipline, however, Bigwest teams, the other 8 , either they will slide going into final games of regular season.. or they will pull away.. The 4000 or so that showed up on Saturday at the SSC for the loss to CSUN, deserve a lot of credit.. real die hard love the Rainbow Warriors. I wish team the best. Guys just stay positive, Ganot cannot shoot , rebound or defend for you guys, .. You have to do it yourselves.. Remember, make the BWC tourney.. and IT IS a New Season !
    Eran, get out and recruit some athletes that can shoot, and athletically defend quickness. at the 4 and 5 spots..

  5. This Year 3 for Ganot, pivotal….first year, with that talent, 28 wins, ncaa historic run to 2nd round, and first win in ncaa tourney.. unless he wins the BWC tournament,.. reallly have to have AD.. discuss, direction.. of program.. I think team CAN still make NCAA.. however.. this losing, 5 games in a row, and especially to BOTTOM 3 teams.. and 3 at home.. makes it hard.. Yes.. for many long time fans, we want them to go to NCAA.. however, now. turn our attention . to Spring UH sports, a lot of things to look forward to.. I don’t know.. cost money to go to BB games, or not even to watch on TV.. just watch Movies.. Ganot, just has to step up…team reflects the coaching staff. if Eran, down.. team down.. Eran is up, and motivates.. team can win BWC tourney still.. hey, I am just trying to BE Positive..

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