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Warriors look to finish strong at Cal State Fullerton on Saturday

The University of Hawai’i basketball team got some momentum back on Thursday, but it could use even more on Saturday.

The Rainbow Warriors, fresh off a stirring 76-69 comeback victory at UC Davis on Thursday, will close out the regular season at Cal State Fullerton on Saturday. The game is scheduled to start at 7:00 p.m. PT (5:00 p.m. Hawai’i time) at Titan Gym in Fullerton, Calif. A live video stream will be available at www.espn3.com and via the WatchESPN app.

Hawai’i is 17-12 overall and in fourth place in the Big West Conference at 8-7. The Titans are 14-15 overall and in second place at 10-5.

Regardless of Saturday’s outcome, the Warriors will be the No. 4 seed for next week’s Big West Conference Tournament at Anaheim, Calif. The Titans still need a win (or a loss by UC Santa Barbara) to clinch the No. 2 seed.

In any case, both teams would like to enter the Big West tournament on a winning note.

The Titans last played on March 2, when they lost a road game at UC Davis, 66-59. Four days later, Hawai’i beat that same UCD team, while Fullerton had a full week to recover and prepare.

Two months ago – on January 9 – the Warriors beat the Titans, 79-68, in Honolulu. While both teams have tinkered with changes, the primary players for both teams remain the same.

Fullerton has been led all season by a trio of all-conference candidates. Kyle Allman Jr., a 6-foot-4 senior guard, is averaging 18.1 points and leads the team with 55 3-pointers. Khalil Ahmad, a 6-3 senior guard, is averaging 18.0 points and 4.2 rebounds per game.  Ahmad scored 24 and Allman 14 in the loss at Hawai’i in January.

Jackson Rowe, a 6-7 junior forward, is averaging 11.2 points and 8.1 rebounds per game, and is shooting 55.2 percent from the field. The only other Fullerton player who is considered a scoring threat is Austen Awosika, a 6-3 junior guard who is averaging 8.1 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game.

The Warriors use a contrasting style that spreads the passes to various options. The top six players in the Hawai’i rotation are averaging between 11.6 and 6.7 points per game each.

Senior forward Jack Purchase leads the Warriors with 11.6 points and 6.0 rebounds per game, and ranks fourth in the conference and second on the team with 73 3-pointers. He had 14 points and 11 rebounds in the win over Fullerton in January. Junior guard Eddie Stansberry is averaging 11.3 points per game and leads the team (second in the Big West) with 76 3-pointers.

Junior forward Zigmars Raimo is averaging 11.3 points and 5.9 rebounds per game, and is shooting 54.8 percent from the field.

Senior guard Brocke Stepteau, who led the Warriors’ second-half rally in the win at UC Davis on Thursday, is averaging 10.0 points and 3.4 assists per game, and ranks third in the Big West with a .879 free throw percentage.

Sophomore guard Drew Buggs is contributing 8.9 points, 4.2 rebounds and a Big West leading 5.6 assists per game. Senior guard Sheriff Drammeh is averaging 6.7 points per game, but his best game of this season was against Fullerton. He had 23 points and six rebounds and shot 4 of 7 from 3-point range in that win.

For what it’s worth, the Warriors are familiar with Titan Gym this season. They played three games there in November for the Wooden Legacy tournament.

Since joining the Big West Conference in the 2012-13 season, Hawai’i is 5-1 against the Titans in games played at Fullerton.

HAWAI’I (17-12, 8-7 Big West) at CAL STATE FULLERTON (14-15, 10-5 Big West)
When: Saturday, March 9, 7:00 p.m. PT/5:00 p.m. HT
Where: Titan Gym (4,000) – Fullerton, Calif.
Television/Streaming video: ESPN3 / WatchESPN.com/WatchESPN app
Radio: Live on ESPN 1420 AM. Neighbor islands can listen live on KNUI on Maui, KPUA on the Big Island, KTOH on Kaua’i, and KNWJ in Pago Pago, American Samoa.
Audio Webcast: ESPN1420am.com/Sideline Hawai’i App.
Live Stats: FullertonTitans.com

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

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