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UPDATED: CSUN dampens “Senior Night” with 84-73 upset of Warriors

The University of Hawai’i basketball team’s “Senior Night” ceremony on Saturday was again a memorable event. The game before that, however, was forgettable.

The Rainbow Warriors’ defensive struggles continued in an 84-73 loss to CSUN at the Stan Sheriff Center. An announced crowd of 6,673 watched Hawai’i drop its third consecutive game to fall to 16-12 overall and 7-7 in the Big West Conference. The Matadors improved to 13-18 and 7-7.

Hawai’i, CSUN and UC Davis are each 7-7 and tied for fourth place in the conference with two regular-season games remaining.

“Giving up 84 points isn’t good,” UH senior forward Jack Purchase said. “We got a lot of work to do. We’re still going to have a crack at this thing, but we still got some work to do.”

CSUN relied on a young two-man show to steal the spotlight from the Hawai’i seniors. Terrell Gomez, a 5-foot-8 sophomore guard, scored 32 points, and Lamine Diane, a 6-7 freshman forward, added 25 points and seven rebounds to lead the Matadors.

“We let their best players get going, which is tough,” UH senior guard Brocke Stepteau said. “They have two of the leading scorers in the conference. We let them get going and it was tough to cool them off.”

Purchase led the Warriors with 20 points – all in the first half. He shot 6 for 8 from 3-point range in the first half, but then went scoreless on 0 for 4 shooting in the second half. He grabbed a team-high seven rebounds, but the Warriors got out-rebounded, 35-32.

Sophomore point guard Drew Buggs was considered questionable in the days leading up to the game due to an ankle injury, but he was in the starting lineup and finished with 11 points, eight assists and six rebounds for Hawai’i.

Stepteau shot 3 for 3 from the field and 4 for 4 on free throws for 10 points (along with six rebounds and four assists) for the Warriors. Zigmars Raimo and Eddie Stansberry also finished with 10 points for the Warriors.

In addition to getting out-rebounded, the Warriors allowed the Matadors to shoot 50.8 percent from the field (32 for 63), including 43.8 percent (7 for 16) from 3-point range. During UH’s current three-game losing streak, all three opponents have shot 50 percent or better from the field.

“We got to get tough,” UH senior guard Sheriff Drammeh said. “We got to get real tough and we all have to be willing to play tough for 40 minutes … there’s two weeks left, and we just have to give it all we got.”

The Warriors opened the game by shooting 4 for 5 from the field, including two 3-pointers by Purchase to jump to a 10-6 lead. The Matadors responded with a 12-0 surge to take an 18-10 lead, and they stayed in front the rest of the first half.

CSUN led by as many as 10 in the first half, and eventually took a 39-34 lead at intermission. Purchase kept the Warriors close in the first half with his 20 points.

“I was feeling pretty good,” Purchase said. “The ball was coming out of my hand nicely. When I get in a groove like that, I want to just keep putting shots up … my teammates did a good job of finding me and getting me the ball, and the coaches did a good job of putting me in the right spot.”

CSUN’s Diane, the leading scorer in the Big West, scored 14 points in just nine minutes of the first half. He remained on the bench for the final six minutes of the half after picking up his third foul.

The Warriors caught the Matadors early in the second half, when a 3-pointer by Stansberry put Hawai’i back on top, 45-44, with 16:01 remaining.

The game stayed close the rest of the way. The score was tied at 60 with 7:30 remaining, but CSUN’s Gomez then scored six consecutive points to give the Matadors the lead for good.

Hawai’i shot 2 for 10 from 3-point range in the second half. “Second half, they obviously locked in on me and face guarded me a little bit,” Purchase said.

Despite the loss, most of the crowd remained after the game for the “Senior Night” festivities. Purchase, Stepteau and Drammeh were honored, and each got a final “senior dunk” and received numerous lei from the fans.

“I have not cried one time when I’ve been here (in Hawai’i) until today,” Drammeh said. “I’m really filled with a lot of emotions. It’s my last game in front of a great crowd, great people, great kids, which I really love playing in front of them. That’s really why I love playing the game like that.”

Drammeh ranks among UH’s top 10 for career games played with 112, and he hopes to add to that number in the coming weeks. “We definitely got the potential, now it’s time to get it out there,” he said.

Purchase had an entourage of family and friends fly in from Australia to attend Saturday’s game. He will leave as the program’s all-time leader in 3-pointers made (currently at 194) and 3-pointers attempted (currently at 526).

“It’s amazing,” Purchase said. “No other place in the country does a better Senior Night than Hawaii’i. Look at all the love you get here. You get all the leis and everything. I can’t thank all these people enough for letting me play here and for having me. It’s been an amazing journey and I’, said it’s coming to an end.”

Stepteau came to UH as an invited walk-on under then-head coach Gib Arnold. He redshirted when Benjy Taylor was the head coach, then played four years under Eran Ganot. By his sophomore season, he had earned a starting role. Prior to this season, he was awarded a scholarship.

‘It means everything,” Stepteau said. “This is something I’ll never forget in my life. Just coming out here and taking that leap of faith … it’s the best decision of my life.   I couldn’t ask for anything better. Every moment of every year, I enjoyed every part of it. I know it’s sad that it’s coming to an end and we got a little more to do, but I’m so appreciative for the whole journey.”

Longtime UH athletic trainer Jayson Goo was also recognized during the Senior Night festivities. He will retire after this season.

The Warriors will close the regular season with two road games – March 7 at UC Davis, then March 9 at Cal State Fullerton. The Big West Conference Tournament will follow, March 13-15, at Anaheim, Calif.

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
UC Irvine 68, at UC Riverside 47
at Long Beach State 94, Cal Poly 85
at UC Davis 66, Cal State Fullerton 59
CSUN 84, at Hawai’I 73




3 Comments

  1. Good reports.

  2. No one does senior nights like Hawaii.

  3. All the best to Purchase, Drammeh, and Stepteau !
    Mahalo !

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