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UPDATED: Warriors overcome delay to win at Cal State Fullerton, 68-60

A bizarre delay was not enough to deny the University of Hawai’i from gaining some needed momentum in the form of a 68-60 road win at Cal State Fullerton on Saturday.

A broken basket support led to a 55-minute delay at halftime at Titan Gym in Fullerton, Calif., but the Rainbow Warriors did not let it affect them in the regular-season finale for both teams.

“It was one of the strangest games ever,” Hawai’i head coach Eran Ganot said in a postgame radio interview on ESPN 1420 AM.

The Warriors improved to 17-12 overall and 8-8 in the Big West Conference. They will be the No. 6 seed and will face No. 3 UC Irvine in the quarterfinals of next week’s Big West Conference Tournament at Anaheim, Calif.

Cal State Fullerton, which beat Hawai’i in Honolulu on January 27, dropped to 17-11 and 10-6, and will be the No. 4 seed for the Big West Tournament.

Interestingly, Hawai’i went 1-1 against each of the eight other teams in the conference.

“We feel like we can beat anybody,” senior forward Gibson Johnson said. “We know the Big West is very close in standings and stats-wise. We feel like we can beat anybody, and we proved that today. This was the last team we had to beat in order to beat everybody, so we’re happy we got the win.”

Johnson and Drew Buggs each finished with 15 points and five rebounds to lead the Warriors. Jack Purchase added 10 points and nine rebounds, Leland Green scored 10, and Mike Thomas had nine points and five rebounds.

The Warriors won it by out-scoring the Titans 16-8 in the game’s final five minutes. Cal State Fullerton shot 2 for 13 from the field in the game’s final 10 minutes, prompting Ganot to describe it as “maybe our best defensive stretch of the entire season.”

The statistics were fairly even, with Hawai’i shooting 41.5 percent from the field to Fullerton’s 40.4. However, the Warriors went 8 for 19 from 3-point range, while the Titans were 2 for 17. Hawai’i also won the rebounding battle, 37-33.

Johnson, who entered the game with five 3-pointers for the season, went 2 for 2 from beyond the arc, including a straightaway 3 that gave the Warriors a 60-53 lead with 2:05 remaining.

“I’m proud of our guys for being clutch down the stretch,” Ganot said.

The first half was close throughout, and Hawai’i eventually took a 34-29 lead at intermission.

The focus then shifted to the equipment, when part of the welding broke apart on the support behind the backboard. The baskets on both ends of the court were eventually changed, while the teams waited in the locker rooms.

“I’ve never been in a situation like that,” Johnson said. “You come out for the second half, you’re ready, you’re excited, then you have to go back to the locker room. But we kind of just kept it light. We pride ourselves on being able to fight through adversity so we weren’t really worried about it. When it was time to play we brought our energy again.”

Once the second half started, the Warriors showed no ill effects. A 3-pointer by Purchase increased the Hawai’i lead to 46-39 with 15:59 remaining.

The Titans responded with an 8-0 surge to take a 47-46 lead with 9:09 remaining, and the game stayed close after that.

Green departed the game with 5:15 remaining with what appeared to be a shoulder injury, and his status for the Big West Tournament remains to be determined.

The game was tied at 50 and 52, then the Warriors took the lead for good at 54-52 on two free throws by Buggs with 4:04 remaining. Buggs and Johnson then hit back-to-back 3-pointers to increase the Hawai’i lead to 60-53 with 2:05 remaining.

Kyle Allman led the Titans with 18 points, but he shot 5 for 14 from the field. He scored 40 points on 16-for-19 shooting in Fullerton’s victory at Hawai’i in January.

The Warriors will remain in Fullerton through the Big West Tournament.

CLICK HERE to view boxscore

(Game photos courtesy Warren Haraki)

CLICK HERE to view photo gallery

Saturday’s Results
Hawai’i 68, at Cal State Fullerton 60
UC Davis 90, at UC Irvine 84 (2 OT)
at Long Beach State 77, UC Riverside 59

Big West Conference Tournament
At Anaheim, Calif.
Thursday, March 8 (Hawai’i times)

No. 1 UC Davis vs. No. 8 UC Riverside, 10 a.m.
No. 4 Cal State Fullerton vs. No. 5 Long Beach State, 12:30 pm.
No. 3 UC Irvine vs. No. 6 Hawai’i, 4 p.m.
No. 2 UC Santa Barbara vs. No. 7 Cal Poly, 6:30 p.m.

2 Comments

  1. Matlin. Ncaa’s or nothing ! No pay for play tournaments. Which means if warriors get to champioship game and loses..he will pay for play?
    Warriors 3 wins in a row you are in big dance second time in 3 years.
    Ganot recruit athletic 1 thru 4s with that great team defense. Warriors will be dominating BigWest. Need great athletes who can defend and score!
    Go Bows!

  2. Way to stay tough Bows!! I feel good about our chances against Irvine.

    Hope Green has a speedy recovery!

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