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UPDATED: UC Riverside stymies Warriors on Senior Night

Photo courtesy Matt Osumi

Taking all the color out of Hawai’i’s offense on “White Out” Senior Night, visiting UC Riverside slipped past the Warriors, 49-43, in Big West Conference men’s basketball action. 

An anxious crowd of 5,467 at the Stan Sheriff Center watched Arinze Chidom score 14 points and grab nine rebounds and Callum McRae add 12 points and 10 boards as the Highlanders closed out the game with a 10-3 run in the final three minutes to improve to 15-16 overall and 6-9 in the Big West.

Samuta Avea scored 10 points and grabbed seven rebounds to lead UH, which dropped its sixth game in the past eight outings and fell to 16-12, 7-7. Hawai’i is now in fifth place in the Big West with two regular-season games remaining.

“It’s no secret, we’re offensively challenged,” Warriors coach Eran Ganot said. “I thought our spirit was there, our fight was there, and defensively we were really good — if you hold a team to 49 points, you should be able to win the game. If we were in the ballpark offensively, average, I think we win this game. But we weren’t even in the ballpark.”

The last time a Hawai’i team scored fewer points was in a 58-37 loss to Oklahoma State in 1998. The last time a Hawai’i team played in a game where both teams finished with fewer than 50 points was a 47-44 road loss at UTEP in 1981.

The final home appearance for Hawai’i seniors Zigmars Raimo and Eddie Stansberry was tight from the outset, tied 24-24 at halftime and with neither team leading by more than five points until the final 35 seconds.

The Warriors led, 40-39, after three free throws by Stansberry with 4:38 remaining, but Chidom gave UC Riverside the lead for good at 41-40 with a putback at the 3:11 mark and later put back his own miss to make it 45-40 with 1:58 left. Drew Buggs made the first of two free throws to cut it to 45-41 with 45.7 seconds remaining, but McRae converted both ends of a 1-and-1 to push the lead to 47-41 with 34.8 ticks left.

Photo courtesy Brandon Flores

Avea cut it to 47-43 with a pull-up jumper with 22.6 seconds remaining, but Dikymbe Martin effectively sealed the victory by converting two free  throws with 21.1 seconds left, as Hawai’i could not score on the ensuing possession. 

“They did a good job honing in on our shooters, and we didn’t do a good job attacking in transition and getting easy baskets,” Ganot said. “We gotta get back to work and figure out some dynamics for Drew and put in him a better position, because this has been going on for a bit.”

Buggs finished with eight points and five rebounds, but shot 3 for 14 from the field, and did not record an assist, ending a streak of 66 consecutive games with at least one assist. He entered the game leading the Big West with 5.7 assists per game.

The Warriors led, 8-4, after Justin Webster’s pull-up jumper from the left wing with 13:44 remaining in the first half, but the Highlanders answered with an 8-0 run capped by Zyon Pullin’s 3-pointer from the left corner as the shot clock expired. UH responded with a 7-2 run culminating in Avea’s turnaround jumper in the lane with 8:16 left to make it 15-14.

The teams basically traded baskets for the remainder of the period, until Stansberry’s 3-pointer from beyond the top of the key with 36 seconds  on the clock tied it at 24-24, which is how it stood at the break.

Neither team could pull away early in the second half, and then UC Riverside took a 37-33 lead with 9:53 remaining after the 7-foot-1 McRae scored on a hook shot over the Warriors’ 7-foot Dawson Carper. Hawai’i eventually tied it up at 37-37 after four straight free throws by Avea and Bernardo Da Silva, before Chidom’s hook shot put the Highlanders ahead at 39-37 with 5:21 showing on the clock.

Photo courtesy Brandon Flores

The Warriors took their final lead at 40-39 after Stansberry was fouled on a 3-point attempts and made all three free throws with 4:38 left, but UC Riverside took the lead back for good at 41-40 on Chidom’s putback with 3:11 remaining.

Chidom, an athletic 6-9 forward, had two early fouls and was limited to two points and eight minutes in the first half, but scored 12 points and grabbed seven rebounds in the second frame.

UH, meanwhile, struggled to get on any kind of big scoring run for most of the game. The Warriors made just 16 of 50 field goal attempts (32 percent), including on 2 of 13 (15.4 percent) from 3-point range, and only one made basket in the final 10 minutes.

“A team like UC Riverside, they like to deny, they make it hard to get the ball to the wings,” Stansberry said. “That was their game plan, and it worked well for them. But then again, we weren’t doing what we normally do, so we gotta get back to that.”

After the game, Raimo and Stansberry were honored with lei, commemorative plaques and final shots — Stansberry buried a 3-pointer and Raimo converted an alley-oop dunk.

“They’re impressive in all areas — they’re unbelievable human beings,” Ganot said. “High character, and really good players, they’ve performed on the court. And off the court, in terms of our community and how they treat people, 10 out of 10.”

Stansberry, a 6-3 guard and transfer from City College of San Francisco, is only one 3-pointer away from tying Mike McIntyre for sixth place on Hawai’i’s career list with 159 despite playing only two seasons here. He also is in the top 3 list for single-season free throw percentage (87.7 percent) and has started 48 games.

Photo courtesy Brandon Flores

“I don’t know many people who can make that kind of impact in two years,” Ganot said. “He’s one of the more likable guys we’ve ever had. Eddie worked to get himself into tremendous shape, and tonight was another example to show his growth — he didn’t have a great shooting game, but he was phenomenal defensively. It allowed us to stay in the game, I’m really proud of his progression there.”

Stansberry said he has cherished his time with the Warriors, including many nights shooting by himself in the arena after games.

“I tell everybody, I wish I could have come here as a freshman and stayed all four years,” said Stansberry, who was named Big West Player of the Week a record three times already this season. “It’s not even just the program and basketball, but stuff outside of that, the people here in the state of Hawai’i are so great. I owe them all the thank you’s, all the people here, without them I wouldn’t be able to provide the energy. 

“Moments like these are great.”

Raimo, a 6-9 power forward from Latvia, underwent one of the most significant transformations — physically and performance-wise — in program history during his four years in Manoa. Regarded as a seldom-used enforcer/role player in his freshman year, Raimo broke through as a key contributor late in his sophomore season and then became a sleek, muscular all-around athlete and reliable starter the past two years.

Raimo also won over fans for his tough, consistent work ethic on the court and his cordial, humble personality off of it.

“The jump he made from where he was — he sacrificed a lot, and he was rewarded, it was nice to see,” Ganot said. “I’m proud of him.”

Photo courtesy Brandon Flores

Raimo, a Finance major, said he is happy about traveling halfway around the world to attend UH and go through the climb to where he is at today.

“My personality is, I’m never going to back down,” said Raimo, who was joined on the court afterward by family members. “If I am not playing, I’m not going to put my head down and just pout. I’m gonna go into the weight room, I’m going to put in work so I can play and help my team win. That’s what I did, and that is what I’m going to pass (on) to my teammates. I tell them to keep grinding, and hard work is going to pay off.

“I’m never going to regret this decision, it’s been the best four years of my life. It’s been amazing.”

The Warriors will wrap up the Big West season this coming week with road games at UC Davis (Thursday) and Cal State Northridge (Saturday), before heading to Anaheim, Calif., for the conference tournament March 12-14.

“We have to get better, there’s things we need to work on, get back into the gym and work,” Raimo said. “The season is not over, we’re going to show the fans that Hawai’i can win on the road. The best is yet to come.”

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Big West Conference
Saturday’s Result
s
at UC Davis 77, Long Beach State 76
at UC Irvine 69, UC Santa Barbara 58
at CSUN 99, Cal State Fullerton 92
UC Riverside 49, at Hawai’i 43

2 Comments

  1. Very disappointing last home game. Was hoping for a better ending. This team is suppose to be peaking not in the doldrums.
    The offense needs some tweaking as the teams know to slow the pace and put pressure on the shooter(eddie), do that and you beat Hawaii as there are no consistent shooters. Even Eddie wouldn’t be called consistent but he’s better than the others. Why aren’t we more aggressive taking it into the basket instead of bombing threes which we have a scant chance of making at this point in time. This is year five. We need to win so that we get the seeding to make it to the finals at the tournament. It’s time! Warriors!! It’s time !!! You guys should be totally embarrassed with your overall performance this past month ! Including the coaches ! You all should be mad as hell and not lose another fricken game the rest of the year!

  2. Congrats to the seniors Eddie and Zigmars! Was a treat to watch you guys.

    This team needs to have more movement on offense. Maybe do the old motion offense
    Need to do something Ganot.. all teams need to do is stick to Eddie and they’ve basically
    Figured out how to stifle the offense because nobody drives. Drew will drive and then jump stop
    And try to find somebody in desperation mode. Are bigs are virtually useless. Three 7 footers with
    No real impact on the game. No post skills. Where are the coaches teaching these guys simple post moves?
    Teams to easily take Hawaii out of their game and they don’t play inspired basketball.

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