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UPDATED: Warriors come up short at Illinois, 66-53

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Too many missed 3s, not enough rebounds, and a discrepancy in free throw attempts all played significant roles in the University of Hawai’i basketball team’s 66-53 road loss at Illinois on Monday at Champaign, Ill.

An announced crowd of 11,589 at the State Farm Center watched the Fighting Illini pull away from the Rainbow Warriors in the final 10 minutes. Illinois improved to 3-1, and 8-0 all-time against Hawai’i. The Warriors, who were playing their first road game of this season, dropped to 3-2.

Despite going 3 for 22 from 3-point range, getting out-rebounded 44-26, and out-scored at the free-throw line 15-2, the Warriors stayed close to the Illini for the first 30 minutes of the contest.

“We’re going to have to manufacture points and figure out ways to play to our personnel,” UH acting head coach Chris Gerlufsen said in a post-game radio interview on ESPN Honolulu. “When we’re not making 3s as we have the last few games, we need to recognize that and have something else to go to. It’s all part of the process.”

Senior forward Zigmars Raimo led the Warriors with 16 points on 7-for-12 shooting. He also grabbed six rebounds and made UH’s only two free throws. Hawai’i finished 2 for 3 on free throws, while the Illini went 15 for 23.

Senior guard Eddie Stansberry, who was named the Big West Conference Player of the Week earlier in the day, scored 10 points, but shot 2 for 9 from 3-point range.

Hawai’i’s five starters combined to score 49 of the team’s 53 points: Raimo (16), Stansberry (10), Samuta Avea (9), Dawson Carper (8) and Drew Buggs (6). Freshman Bernardo da Silva accounted for the other four points off the bench.

“That was a Big Ten basketball game,” Gerlufsen said. “Physical. It wore on us as the game went on and I thought we kind of ran out of gas the last 10 minutes of the game. We need to probably go to our bench a little more but I didn’t think our bench was particularly good tonight and ready to go.”

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The game was tied at 26 at halftime, and the Rainbow Warriors had a 32-30 lead with 15:30 remaining in the second half, but the Fighting Illini methodically distanced themselves after that.

“All credit to Illinois,” Gerlufsen said. “I thought we showed tremendous fight in the first half. If we shot the ball a little bit better, that’s a game where we need to go into halftime up six to 10 points and we didn’t do that.”

The teams took a cue from the 35-degree weather in Champaign, Ill., and started cold. Hawai’i opened the game by making just one of its first nine field goal attempts, including 0 for 5 from 3-point range. However, the Warriors still managed to forge a 2-1 lead five minutes into the game because Illinois went 0 for 7 from the field to start the contest.

The Illini’s first field goal came with 14:20 remaining and put them ahead, 4-2. Hawai’i had a 9-6 lead with 10:51 remaining in the first half, but the Illini responded with a 9-0 surge to overtake the Warriors at 15-9.

Illinois led by as many as seven points, but the Warriors tied the score at 24 on a 3-pointer by Stansberry with 3:16 remaining in the half.

The score was tied at 26 at intermission, with Hawai’i shooting 36.4 percent (12 for 33) and Illinois at 33 percent (8 for 24).

The Illini used a 12-2 run early in the second half to take control for good at 42-34 with 13:04 remaining.

Kofi Cockburn, a 7-foot, 290-pound freshman center, led the Illini with 15 points and 14 rebounds.  Trent Frazier added 13 points, and Giorgi Bezhanishvili had 10 points and nine rebounds.

“This is probably the most physical team we’ll play all season, but I think it also gives you a little taste of how (UC) Irvine is inside in terms of their bigs,” Gerlufsen said. “There’s a lot to take away from a game like this. Do we like the result? No, but I think it can make us better in the long run.”

The Warriors will play their next three games at home: November 24 against New Orleans, November 29 against San Francisco, and December 1 against Hawai’i Pacific.

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1 Comment

  1. Good experience playing before approx 11,589 fans and good comments from the coach.

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