Warrior Insider

The Inside Source for Hawaii Men's Basketball

UPDATED: UC Santa Barbara foils valiant effort by Warriors, 81-74, in OT

On Valentine’s Day eve, the University of Hawai’i men’s basketball team unfortunately had its valiant heart broken.

Photo courtesy Matt Osumi

JaQuori McLaughlin scored 19 points — including seven in overtime — and Devearl Ramsey added 17 points, including eight straight free throws in the final 1:12 of OT, to help visiting UC Santa Barbara deny Hawai’i, 81-74, Saturday night to take both games of a pivotal Big West Conference men’s basketball series at the SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center.

Amadou Sow added 16 points as the first-place Gauchos won their 10th straight game to improve to 14-3 overall, 8-2 in the Big West. Casdon Jardine scored a game-high 25 points and grabbed six rebounds and James Jean-Marie added 17 points off the bench for the Warriors, who fell to 7-7, 5-7. 

UH fought back from a 15-point second half deficit to force overtime, only to fight back tears at the end.

“Great college basketball game, and we came up short, and I feel for our guys right now,” Warriors coach Eran Ganot said. “I’m really proud of their efforts to fight back, to force overtime, to have a better second half on both ends … and I hurt for them right now. We had a couple stretches in the first half that weren’t like us, so we gotta get better and have closer to 40-minute consistent efforts. But you could see the flashes in our group, I’m just excited to go back to work with them. Credit to Santa Barbara, I thought they made some key plays in overtime.”

McLaughlin opened the overtime period by swishing a 3-pointer from the right wing about 30 seconds in, then later drilled a mid-range jumper at the shot clock buzzer to extend the lead to 71-67 with 1:43 remaining. Hawai’i could not convert on the other end, and Ramsey then began his streak of eight straight free throws at the 1:12 mark to eventually seal the victory.

Photo courtesy Matt Osumi

“There was a broken 50/50 loose ball that led to the 3, and then a tough shot — McLaughlin made big plays,” Ganot said. “I thought Biwali (Bayles) defended well, and they hit the shot. So we can hurt, but I can be proud of where we can get to.”  

The Gauchos led, 46-31, five minutes into the second half and appeared to be in control for most of the game as it did in Friday night’s 59-50 victory, leading 54-43 after Ajare Sanni’s jumper with 8:56 remaining. But Hawai’i chipped away and eventually tied it at 60-60 on Junior Madut’s rainbow 3-pointer from beyond the top of the key with 1:51 left, then took a 62-60 lead on Jardine’s drive and layup with 1:01 remaining.

UCSB then tied it at 62-62 on Miles Norris’ slam dunk with 34.4 seconds on the clock. On the ensuing possession, Madut’s 3-point attempt from the right wing did not reach the rim and was knocked out of bounds under the basket, giving the Gauchos the ball with 4.4 ticks showing. UCSB then turned it over at midcourt but Jean-Marie’s Hail Mary was off the mark and caromed off the backboard as time expired.

“You ask about (the Warriors’) fight, they’ve shown it consistently,” Ganot said. “We’ve been down (points), we’re outnumbered in some areas, but we’re not going to use it as an excuse and we have some guys that care a lot. So I just think this group has been thrown into the fire and I really think at the end of the day, we’re going to be where we want to be at the end.”

T’was not to be Saturday night, as with UCSB up 71-67 late in overtime, Jardine’s 3-point attempt from the left corner was on line but fell short, grazing the front of the rim. Norris grabbed the rebound and fed Ramsey, who was fouled with 1:12 showing on the clock. Ramsey calmly swished both free throw attempts, stretching the lead to 73-67. 

Photo courtesy Matt Osumi

On ensuing possessions, UH turned it over and missed another 3-point attempt, and Ramsey again calmly swished both free throws to make it 75-67 with 28 seconds left. Jardine got two free throws himself and made both to close it to 75-69 with 18 ticks remaining, but this time McLaughlin was immediately fouled after the inbounds pass and sank both free throws to push the lead to 77-69. Jean-Marie quickly answered with a layup at the other end to cut it to 77-71 with 0:10.8 showing, but then Ramsey shut the door by sinking two more free throw swishes to effectively seal the victory.

“We missed some good looks, and every possession matters in overtime,” Ganot said. “I think both groups gave it everything. That’s why I said it was a good game. They got experienced players and experienced guard play — that’s a good combination.”

Ramsey, a senior point guard who transferred from Nevada, finished a perfect 10-for-10 from the free throw line. McLaughlin, a senior transfer from Oregon State, had five assists and two steals to go with his 19 points.

In the first half, it was dribble penetration and either easy-finish layups or dishes to 6-foot-9 post Sow that gave the Warriors fits. The Gauchos got 28 points in the paint — including nine by Sow — to help them take a 39-27 lead into the locker room. Hawai’i had led, 24-23, after two free throws by Justin Hemsley with 7:14 remaining, but Destin Barnes answered with a layup to ignite a stunning 16-3 run to end the half.

Photo courtesy Matt Osumi

UCSB finished the first half making 17 of 31 field goals (54.8 percent). The Gauchos shot 53.7 percent (29 of 54) for the game, which is the highest allowed by the Hawai’i defense this season.

“We didn’t have some rotations we normally have,” Ganot said. “I thought they made some shots and then what happens is, everything else starts opening up. That’s why they (average) 80 a game, 50 percent from the field, have great shooters, great guard play. It’s a tall task, they have the ability to get the ball inside, shoot the ball … give them credit. But I still think we can do better.”

The Warriors did do better in the second half, after an early lapse that saw the Gauchos extend the lead to 46-31. Ganot credited Bayles, a freshman backup point guard, with giving UH a spark that helped fuel the rally back. Bayles finished with 10 points, five assists, five rebounds and two steals in almost 35 minutes off the bench.

“Biwali is fearless, he’s a freshman, and he’s going against some experienced guys, but I though he did a heckuva job and ignited our comeback,” Ganot said. 

Jardine, a senior co-captain, said the Warriors had “no choice otherwise” but to rally in the second half.

“We decided to fight because we’re not a team that’s just gonna go down and take a loss,” Jardine said. “I’m really proud of how we fought back, and it didn’t fall in our way, but I am happy with how we fought back.”

The Warriors are now in sixth place with six regular-season games remaining. Hawai’i is scheduled to play a two-game series at eighth-place CSUN on February 19 and 20. The Matadors are 3-5 in conference play, and had a bye this week.

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Big West Conference
Saturday’s Results
at UC Davis 78, Long Beach State 76 (OT)
at CSU Bakersfield 65, UC San Diego 50
UC Irvine 73, at UC Riverside 64
UC Santa Barbara 81, at Hawai’I 74 (OT)
Cal State Fullerton at Cal Poly, canceled

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