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UPDATED: Warriors hold off Cal State Fullerton, 75-69, in Big West opener

Photo courtesy Shane Rodrigues

Eddie Stansberry scored 25 points, including four in the final 43 seconds, to lead the University of Hawai’i basketball team to a 75-69 road win at Cal State Fullerton on Thursday.

A crowd of 693 at Titan Gym in Fullerton, Calif., watched the Rainbow Warriors lead from start to finish in the Big West Conference opener for both teams. Hawai’i improved to 10-5 overall, while the Titans dropped to 5-11.

The Warriors also improved to an impressive 7-1 in road games at Cal State Fullerton since joining the Big West in 2013.

This latest win had its ups and downs. The Warriors led by as many as 16 points midway through the second half, then had to hold off a late charge by Fullerton. The Titans cut it to one, 69-68, with one minute remaining, but Stansberry made a floater in the lane to give the Warriors a 71-68 advantage with 43 seconds remaining. Stansberry and Drew Buggs then combined to go 4 for 4 on free throws to secure the win.

“Stansberry made the biggest play of the game at a critical time,” Hawai’i head coach Eran Ganot said in a post-game radio interview on ESPN 1420AM.

Stansberry made 10 of 15 shots from the field, and most of them were from close range. He entered the game ranked second in the Big West with 44 3-pointers, and went 2 for 5 from beyond the arc against Fullerton.

Several other Warriors contributed in the win. Buggs finished with 17 points, six rebounds and four assists. Samuta Avea scored 11 points – all in the first half when the Warriors established control.

Photo courtesy Shane Rodrigues

Freshman forward Bernardo da Silva, making only the second start of his career, recorded his first collegiate double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Zigmars Raimo added five points and eight rebounds, Dawson Carper grabbed seven rebounds, and Justin Webster had five points and three assists in limited minutes off the bench.

“I thought we came in with a focused mentality,” Buggs said in a post-game interview on ESPN3. “We came in with a high alert on the defensive end and we really wanted to just focus on making them take tough shots. We know we’re a real balanced team offensively. We have a lot of weapons so we just pride ourselves on sharing the ball and letting everybody take a good shot. If you have it, take it.”

Hawai’i opened the game with a 5-0 lead and stayed in front the rest of the way. Avea scored five points during a 10-2 surge that pushed the Hawai’i lead to 31-16 with 7:33 remaining in the half. The Warriors eventually held a 36-31 lead at halftime, with Avea (11) and Stansberry (7) combining for 18 points.

The Warriors opened the second half with a 9-2 run to increase the lead to 45-33.

“Really proud,” Ganot said. “I think part of a team forming an identity, what you want is to impose your will, do your work early, set the tone, and we did that to start both halves.”

Photo courtesy Shane Rodrigues

Hawai’i had a 64-48 lead with 8:39 remaining in the second half, but the Titans made it interesting late, cutting it to 67-64 with 3:09 remaining.

Two free throws by Austen Awosika with 1:06 remaining put Fullerton within one, 69-68, but Stansberry responded with his clutch shot on the next possession to stop the Fullerton rally.

“That’s what conference play is,” Ganot said. “They can make their run. I’m proud that we could withstand theirs and get it back to where we needed to. There’s certainly things we can clean up.

“Our team, we’re big on prep and we were ready to roll. Some of the critical mistakes we made, they capitalized on – the lapses. We talked about it after, we have a chance to be pretty good because those (mistakes) are fixable, but we need to fix them quick.”

The Warriors will remain on the road for another conference game at UC Irvine (8-8, 0-0) on Saturday. The game is scheduled to start at 7:00 p.m. Pacific Time (5:00 p.m. Hawai’i time) and will be streamed live via ESPN3.

“We got to come in with a mentality that it’s not going to be easy and we have to really lock in on the defensive end,” Buggs said. “Irvine’s a really good team, won the conference last year, but we have a chip on our shoulder and we’re really hungry. We’re going to be ready to go.”

Photo courtesy Shane Rodrigues

Awosika led the Titans with 22 points. Jackson Rowe added 16 points and nine rebounds, and Vincent Lee grabbed 12 rebounds for Fullerton.

The Warriors out-rebounded the Titans, 38-32. Hawai’i shot 46.9 percent from the field, including 43.8 percent from 3-point range (7 for 16). Fullerton shot 47.2 percent from the field, but only 28.6 percent from 3-point range (4 for 14).

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Big West Conference
Thursday’s Results
UC Riverside 65, at UC Davis 59
Hawai’i 75, at Cal State Fullerton 69

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

3 Comments

  1. Nice win on the road for the road warriors. Things get much tougher with UCI but we’re off to a good start.

  2. Yes sir, any win on the road is a good win! But it does look like there are some trash teams in the Big West this year that UH should also win on the road. I would put Cal Poly, Long Beach and UC Davis as the teams that are really low this year and UH should win them both at home and on the road.

    UCI might be a different story and we will find out tomorrow. If UH can pull off a upset that would put us on track for the champs!

  3. Way to hang tough bows! Take it to UC Irvine!

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