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Warriors look to maintain winning momentum at UCSB on Thursday

There’s no way around this. The road was coming up again, sooner or later, for the University of Hawai’i basketball team.

After a feel-good homestand that produced a 4-0 record over three consecutive weeks, the Rainbow Warriors will now have to prove their worth on the road if they want to stay near the top of the Big West Conference.

Hawai’i will play conference games at UC Santa Barbara on Thursday, then at Cal Poly on Saturday. The Warriors are 14-6 overall and in second place in the Big West at 5-1. The Gauchos are 14-8 overall and tied for sixth place at 3-4.

Thursday’s game is scheduled to start at 7:00 p.m. Pacific Time (5:00 p.m. Hawai’i Time) at The Thunderdome in Santa Barbara, Calif. It will not be televised, but will be available via online streaming at www.bigwest.tv.

Hawai’i and UCSB have already met once this season, with the Warriors taking a 70-63 victory on January 11 in Honolulu.

Hawai’i relied on a balanced attack in that win, with junior point guard Drew Buggs leading the way with 12 points and 12 assists. Buggs has emerged as the top point guard in the conference, averaging 9.5 points, 4.2 rebounds, and a Big West-best 6.3 assists per game.

Eddie Stansberry, a 6-3 senior guard, leads the Warriors in scoring at 17.0 points per game, and ranks second in the Big West with 62 3-pointers. He had one of his worst games of the season in the January 11 game against UCSB, as he finished with six points and shot 0 for 4 from 3-point range.

Stansberry bounced back from that performance by averaging 22.5 points per game and making 10 3-pointers in his last two games.

The Warriors also boast the Big West’s top rebounder in 6-9 senior Zigmars Raimo, who is averaging 9.8 points, 7.4 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game.

The lingering question for Hawai’i is the status of starting forwards Samuta Avea and Bernardo da Silva. Avea has missed the last two-plus games with a back injury, and da Silva has sat the last three with a foot injury. Avea scored five points in 10 minutes of action in the first game against UCSB, while da Silva did not play.

Several players have stepped up in their absence, including freshman guard Justin Webster (10.0 points per game against Big West opponents), sophomore forward Justin Hemsley (8.2 points per game against Big West opponents), and sophomore center Dawson Carper (5.6 points, 4.1 rebounds per game).

Following its seven-point loss at Hawai’i on January 11, UCSB went 2-2 over the past two weeks. Due to a scheduling quirk, UCSB played CSUN on January 22 and 30, and the Matadors beat the Gauchos both times.

However, the Gauchos regained some momentum with an impressive 87-62 road victory at Long Beach State last Saturday. Matt Freeman scored 24 points, including 6-of-7 shooting from 3-point range to lead UCSB. Amadou Sow added 15 points and 14 rebounds, and Max Heidegger finished with 14 points and 11 assists.

Heidegger, a 6-3 senior guard, is the team’s leading scorer at 15.9 points per game, and he might still be working his way to full strength. He missed 10 games earlier in the season with various injuries. In the first game against Hawai’i, he played a reserve role and scored 21 points. He is expected to be in the starting lineup for Thursday’s rematch.

Jaquori McLaughlin, a 6-4 junior guard, has been the Gauchos’ most consistent player this season, and is averaging 14.1 points, 3.8 assists and 3.7 rebounds per game.

Sow, a 6-9 sophomore forward, is averaging 14.1 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. He was limited to nine points and four rebounds while playing just 18 minutes due to foul problems in the loss at Hawai’i.

Freeman is a 6-10 senior center with shooting range well past the 3-piont line. He is averaging 10.0 points and 4.0 rebounds per game, and leads the team with 40 3-pointers. Devearl Ramsey, a 6-foot junior guard, is averaging 8.1 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game.

The Gauchos are averaging 72.2 points per game, and lead the Big West with a .468 team field goal percentage. They are also adept at drawing fouls, and they lead the conference in free throws made per game (15.0).

Hawai’i is averaging 71.3 points per game, and lead the conference in assists at 14.8 per game.

HAWAI’I (14-6, 5-1 Big West) at UC SANTA BARBARA (14-8, 3-4 Big West)
When: Thursday, Feb. 6, 7:00 p.m. PST/5:00 p.m. HT
Where: The Thunderdome (6,000) – Santa Barbara, Calif.
Television: None
Streaming Video: BigWest.tv
Radio: ESPN Honolulu (1420 AM/92.7 FM), KRKH (Maui), KPUA (Hawai’i Island), and KTOH (Kaua’i).
Audio Webcast: ESPNHonolulu.com/Sideline Hawai’i App.
Live Stats: UCSBGauchos.com

Wednesday’s Results
at Cal State Fullerton 61, UC Riverside 48
at Cal Poly 92, Long Beach State 75

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

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

1 Comment

  1. Go bows!!!!

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