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UPDATED: Warriors shoot past Cal State Fullerton, 79-68

Belatedly ringing in the New Year with a shower of 3-point aerials, Hawai’i shot past visiting Cal State Fullerton, 79-68, Wednesday night in the Big West Conference men’s basketball opener for both teams.


An energized midweek crowd of 3,378 at the Stan Sheriff Center watched Sheriff Drammeh tie a career high with 23 points off the bench and Eddie Stansberry add 16 points as the Warriors improved to 10-5 overall. Khalil Ahmad scored 24 points and Kyle Allman added 14 points for the Titans, who won last year’s conference tournament but fell to 4-11 this season.


Jack Purchase contributed 14 points and 11 rebounds and Brocke Stepteau add 10 points and four assists for UH, which overcame a 34-31 halftime deficit by draining 8 of 13 attempts (61.5 percent) from 3-point range in the second half.


“Really proud of our team, this was a big win for us,” Warriors coach Eran Ganot said. “It’s important to protect home court in league, and we had to open up against a really good team who won the (Big West) Tournament last year and is one of the better teams in our league (again). They return four starters and have a lot of offensive firepower. So this was a big win for us, proud of our guys, we won as we always do — as a team, different guys did it, and it gives them a good moment and something to build off of.”


Cal State Fullerton led 34-31, after a back-and-forth first half but Hawai’i took the lead for good at 44-41 on Stansberry’s fallaway 3-pointer from the right wing at the shot clock buzzer early with 12:44 remaining in the second half and stretched it to 58-48 after Drammeh’s three-point play with 6:22 remaining.


The Titans then closed it to 63-60 after a 12-5 run capped by Jamal Smith’s free throw with 3:44 left, but Drammeh answered with a 3-pointer and — after Austen Awosika’s reverse layup made it 66-62 — Stansberry swished a 3-pointer in front of the Warriors bench to push the lead to 69-62 with 1:59 remaining.


Awosika responded with another layup to close it to 69-64 nine seconds later, but Purchase buried a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 1:22 left to push the lead to 72-65, then sank three of four free throws over the next 24 seconds to help seal the victory.


UH had its best 3-point shooting night of the season, finishing the game 11 of 22 from beyond the arc. The 11 3s made tied a season high, and the .500 percentage from beyond the arc is the best mark for the team so far this season. Drammeh and Stansberry notched four apiece and Purchase added three.


“The fact that we were able to get those shots off and see them go in was a really good touch,” said Stansberry, who was 4 of 8 from 3-point range. 


Said Drammeh, who scored 18 points in the second half: “If we are shooting well, we are really hard to beat … but at the same time, we can’t expect to rely on our shooting so something we need to focus on is the defensive end.”


Allman, a dynamic 6-foot-4 guard who burned the SSC nets for 40 points against the Warriors last year, was mostly held in check this time around and finished 5 for 12 from the field, including 3 of 7 from beyond the arc.


“These guys are so good — (if) you have one little lapse, and they’ll kill you,” Ganot said. “Ahmad hurt us quite a bit, especially early in the game (11 points in the first half). But we made them work for their shots … Allman and Ahmad are two tremendous players, nationally, not just in this conference. They are nationally tough players because of their ability to score at all three levels. There are guys who are shooters, guys who are drivers, and get to the line. Well, they do all three … At the end of the day, did we make it difficult for them? Overall, I thought our guys did a good job.”


UH has a bye this weekend before heading to the Mainland for its conference road opener at Cal State Northridge on Jan. 17.

CLICK HERE to view boxscore

(Game photos courtesy Chris Kadooka)

CLICK HERE to view photo gallery

Big West Conference
Wednesday’s Results

at UC Santa Barbara 65, Cal Poly 51
CSUN 84, at UC Riverside 83
Hawai’i 79, Cal State Fullerton 68

Thursday’s Games
at UC Irvine 71, UC Davis 69 (OT)

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


4 Comments

  1. Good video and story. Strong defense and shooting.
    Fullerton’s Strength of Schedule so far is 9 vs UH’s 285, per Pomeroy.

  2. ^^^ How can UH be so bad in the SOS? They beat Colorado, Utah and Rhode Island.

  3. Must be that several of our opponents were rated very low in SOS.

  4. Utah and Colorado are not very good teams. The Pac 12 in general sucks this year.

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