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Warriors will look for defense to return at UC Davis on Thursday

If there’s still time, there’s still a chance. That’s the approach the University of Hawai’i basketball team is taking as it enters the final week of the regular season.

The Rainbow Warriors have two road games this week – at UC Davis on Thursday, then at Cal State Fullerton on Saturday. The results of those two games will determine Hawai’i’s seeding for the eight-team Big West Conference Tournament, March 14-16 at Anaheim, Calif. The winner of that three-day tournament will receive the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Hawai’i is 16-12 overall and currently in a three-way tie for fifth place in the Big West at 7-7. The Warriors could finish anywhere from the No. 3 to No. 7 seed, pending this week’s outcomes.

If they want to rise to the No. 3 seed, the Warriors will definitely have to find their missing defense on this week’s road trip. Hawai’i is on a three-game losing streak, and the opponents averaged 83.7 points per game while shooting 51.4 percent from the field in those three games.

It might help on Thursday to be playing a UC Davis team that ranks last in the Big West in scoring at 65.3 points per game and rebounding at 30.3 per game. What’s more, the Warriors already own an 80-60 win over UCD on January 26 in Honolulu.

The Aggies are 11-17 overall and 7-7 in the Big West. Thursday’s game is scheduled to start at 7:00 p.m. PT (5:00 p.m. Hawai’i time) at The Pavilion in Davis, Calif. It will not be televised, but live streaming video is available at www.BigWest.tv.

UCD has a little bit of momentum after a 66-59 upset win over Cal State Fullerton last Saturday.

The Aggies also have the 2018 Big West Player of the Year in TJ Shorts II. The 5-foot-9 senior guard is amazingly leading the Aggies in four main statistical categories: scoring (14.2 per game), rebounding (5.0 per game), assists (4.2 per game) and steals (1.6 per game).

In the 20-point loss at Hawai’i in January, Shorts finished with 11 points, eight assists, four steals and three rebounds.

Shorts’ supporting cast includes nine other players who share minutes and responsibilities. Siler Schneider, a 6-3 senior guard, is averaging 10.7 points and 2.6 rebounds per game. Joe Mooney, a 6-3 junior guard, is averaging 9.8 points per game and leads the team with 55 3-pointers. Stefan Gonzalez, a 6-2 junior guard, is contributing 7.5 points per game and is second on the team with 42 3-pointers.

Matt Neufield, a 6-11 junior center, is averaging 7.4 points and 3.0 rebounds per game. He had 17 points and six rebounds in the loss at Hawai’i in January. A.J. John, a 6-8 senior forward, had 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting off the bench in the loss at Hawai’i.

The Warriors are coming off a disappointing 84-73 home loss to CSUN on “Senior Night” last Saturday. They departed Honolulu on Tuesday, and will remain in California through the Big West Tournament.

Senior forward Jack Purchase leads the Warriors in both scoring (11.8) and rebounding (6.0), and ranks third in the Big West with 72 3-pointers. Teammate Eddie Stansberry, a 6-3 junior guard, ranks second in the Big West with 73 3-pointers, and he is averaging 11.3 points per game.

Junior forward Zigmars Raimo is contributing 11.5 points and 6.0 rebounds per game, and ranks second in the Big West for field goal percentage at .556. Senior guard Brocke Stepteau is averaging 9.8 points and 3.4 assists per game, and ranks third in the conference for free throw percentage at .874.

Sophomore point guard Drew Buggs leads the Big West in assists at 5.7 per game, and is also contributing 8.8 points and 4.2 rebounds per game. He had 12 points and 12 assists in the win over UCD in January. Senior guard Sheriff Drammeh is averaging 6.9 points per game, and scored a team-high 18 in the win over UCD.

HAWAI’I (16-12, 7-7 Big West) at UC DAVIS (11-17, 7-7 Big West)
When: Thursday, March 7, 7:00 p.m. PT/5:00 p.m. HT
Where: The Pavilion (8,000) – Davis, Calif.
Television: None.
Streaming Video: BigWest.tv
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: UCDavisAggies.com

Wednesday’s Games
at Long Beach State 70, UC Riverside 57

Thursday’s Games
UC Irvine at Cal Poly
UC Santa Barbara at CSUN
Hawai’i at UC Davis

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


1 Comment

  1. Let’s go Bows! Do this. The natives are getting restless and the cure is to win games!

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