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UPDATED: Warriors foiled by UC Irvine, 75-74, in OT

The problem with a “Super Hero Night” is the possibility of a surprise attack from villains. Such was the case on Wednesday night, when the University of Hawai’i got its cape pulled off in a stunning 75-74 overtime loss to UC Irvine.

An announced crowd of 5,602 at the Stan Sheriff Center was loud throughout the game, but left in silence after Jack Purchase’s 3-point attempt bounced off the rim and Drew Buggs’ tip-in attempt also came up short just before the final horn sounded. Moments earlier, UCI’s Max Hazzard hit a difficult running jumper from about 15 feet away with 9.2 seconds remaining to give the Anteaters the final margin.

The Rainbow Warriors dropped to 11-7 overall and 2-2 in the Big West Conference. The Anteaters improved to 16-5 and 4-1. UCI has won five of the last six games against Hawai’i, including three straight in the Sheriff Center.

“I couldn’t be prouder of our team,” head coach Eran Ganot said. “As proud of our team as I’ve been all year. That’s weird to say after a loss, but that’s a hurt locker room. Our guys care a lot. This is stuff we have to go through. That’s part of life. I thought our guys were tremendous, really good, competing. I thought our crowd was tremendous.”

Purchase finished with team-highs of 18 points and seven rebounds for the Warriors. Zigmars Raimo added 16 points, including 8 for 9 free-throw shooting, and six rebounds, and Leland Green had a re-emergence with 10 points and five rebounds off the bench.

It was a hurtful loss in many ways. For one, Hawai’i led by as many as 14 points with less than nine minutes remaining in regulation.

“They came down, hit some big shots and executed well, and we didn’t handle it as well as we should have,” Purchase said. “We should have put our foot on their throat when we were up … but we let it slip.”

A crucial play came with 4:45 remaining in regulation and the Warriors ahead, 56-46. Purchase was called for a “hook and hold” flagrant foul on UCI center Jonathan Galloway. Instead of Hawai’i getting possession of the ball, Galloway made two free throws and John Edgar Jr. drained a 3-pointer. The five-point swing put UCI back in the game at 56-51.

“They said when we were hooked (arms), I pulled him up instead of trying to let go, but he was on top of me, so I didn’t know what to do,” Purchase said. “That’s the way the game goes.”

Purchase scored 14 of his points in the first half, including two 3-pointers during a 9-0 run that gave Hawai’i a 29-22 lead. The Warriors took a 29-23 lead at intermission, and appeared to be in control for most of the second half.

Green also provided a boost off the bench in both halves. His 10 points is a season-high, and he had a total of 10 points in the previous six games combined.

“I think he was the ignitor of the separation,” Ganot said. “He’s a heck of a player, and he’s done a lot of great things for our program. He’s obviously a high-level kid, and he was huge tonight to give us a chance to do something.”

Midway through the second half, the Warriors hit 3-pointers on four consecutive possessions – two by Green, and one each by Brocke Stepteau and Samuta Avea – to increase their lead to 53-39 with 8:36 remaining.

“One of the things we did talk about was the lapses in key stretches,” Ganot said. “When we were up, we took bad shots, we didn’t get back on D, we lost some guys. That’s part of our evolution, to continue to stay locked in and solid over and over and over again. Credit Irvine for making us pay when those things happened.”

UCI finally caught the Warriors with 1:02 remaining when Evan Leonard drained a 3-pointer to tie the score at 62. On UH’s next possession, Eddie Stansberry missed a 3-pointer, then was called for a foul on UCI’s Hazzard in the scramble for the rebound. Hazzard drained both free throws to give the Anteaters a 64-62 advantage.

Sheriff Drammeh re-tied the score at 64 by hitting two free throws with 25.8 seconds remaining. Both teams missed long 3-point attempts in the closing seconds of regulation, including Drammeh’s miss at the buzzer.

The five-minute overtime went back and forth. The Anteaters took a 73-71 lead on a 3-pointer by Eyassu Worku with 27 seconds remaining. The Warriors responded with a 3-pointer by Drammeh off an assist from Stepteau with 15.2 seconds left.

After a timeout, UCI set up its final play for Hazzard. He hit the go-ahead shot while fading back and Stepteau’s hand in his face with 9.2 seconds left.

“We drew up a play to put ourselves in a position to win the game and get a shot,” Hazzard said. “It wasn’t drawn up for anyone in particular but it just happened that I was open and able to take it.”

With no timeouts remaining, the Warriors pushed the ball upcourt. Buggs drove toward the basket, then found Purchase about 25 feet away from the basket. “Felt good, looked good, it didn’t go in,” Purchase said.

“It’s tough,” Ganot said. “These are tough. When you coach long enough or been playing long enough, you’ve been on both sides of it. The measure of our team is how we respond.”

Buggs finished with eight points and three assists, and shot 3 for 10 from the field. Stepteau added seven points and three assists. Drammeh’s 3-pointer in overtime was his only basket. He finished with five points on 1 for 9 shooting.

This is virtually the same UCI squad (all five starters return from last season) that ended Hawai’i’s season last year with a 68-67 win in the quarterfinals of the Big West Conference Tournament. The Anteaters rallied from 10 points down in the final four minutes of that game, and Hazzard also hit the game-winning shot.

“I don’t want to go there,” Ganot said. “There were similarities, obviously … the feeling still sucks. It’s the same bad feeling. Why is it so much better (this year)? We get to play again.”

The Warriors will host UC Davis in another Big West game on Saturday.

CLICK HERE to view boxscore

(Game photos courtesy Chris Kadooka)

CLICK HERE to view photo gallery

Big West Conference
Wednesday’s Results

at CSUN 86, Long Beach State 71
UC Riverside 74, at Cal Poly 51
UC Irvine 75, at Hawai’i 74 (overtime)

Thursday’s Game
at Cal State Fullerton 81, UC Santa Barbara 60

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

8 Comments

  1. Anybody know what that intentional foul on Purchase was about. It doesn’t seem fair that the other team gets two free throws and the next possession just for hooking arms. That’s basically the same punishment as a technical.

  2. It’s unfortunate that the ref’s singlehandedly decided this one. I watch every single game regardless of when/where it’s shown and last night I observed constant physical contact in last night’s game that were no calls. Push offs, shoves, body bumps, contact fouls on 3’s…all missed calls by the ref’s, but then Purchase inadvertantly hooks a guy and it’s a flagrant foul turned 5 point swing. If I was him I woulda been decking UCI guys at that point. They were getting away w/murder out there. It was enough to frustrate and fluster the Warriors to the point where they were unable to secure their lead at the end.

    The boys deserved this win, 110% but the ref’s decided against it. Credit UCI for making crucial shots but they also were afforded those opportunities by the officiating. For me, they didn’t do enough to earn the win, and at this point I’ve lost respect for them. I can see us winning when we go to their house just based on the mere fact that it will likely be a different officiating crew.

    Tough loss overall but I know the boys will overcome and persevere. They are warriors and they will battle until the the very end. Let’s go BOWS!

  3. Why, after going offense for defense numerous times this season, would the coaches leave Brocke in the game during that last possession? Their decisions have left me speechless more than a few times this season.

  4. UCI made 12 more 2FG’s than UH which offset UH making 4 more 3FG’s and 11 more FT’s

  5. Bummed out by this loss. Couldn’t believe the BS Calls from this incompetent ref crew. Our Warriors fought so hard for this game, WE NEED TO WIN EVERY GAME. Just need to play more consistent, no silly turnovers, make the foul shots, Eddie needs a steady 14 points or more a night for our team to have a chance to win tight games like these. Irvine took him out of his element. Play hard, play smart, Drammeh was also plagued by inconsistent outside shooting and errant passes. Play hard defense and cut down on the mistakes, and we win. All of us hard core fans were there and I am really disappointed we didn’t have at least 7000 or more against the top team in the conference! Support our Warriors! This team plays their A-S-S-E-S-S off every game. For sure I know they will come out an angry team come Saturday and put some pounding on UC Davis, This is OUR HOUSE, WARRIORS.

  6. Man that was tough to watch near the end. I also agree
    The refs call on that flagrant for purchase was bs.
    Could’ve been on Galloway just as much so they should
    of just called a regular foul at the least.

    But are guys need to learn to lock in when they have a commanding
    Lead. For me that was worst part.. we should’ve won big.

    I love Zigmars.. however he can only guard on the ground. How many times
    did Rutherford make with that lil jump hook over Ziggy when he would’ve
    had trouble getting that over one of our 7 footers.

    Well hopefully they should be hungry and aggressive against
    UC Davis

  7. Anyone know the names of the officials?

  8. ^^^ Michael Greenstein, Frank Harvey, Rob Rorke

    That’s what it says for referees in the boxscore.

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