Warrior Insider

The Inside Source for Hawaii Men's Basketball

UPDATED: Warriors complete sweep of Cal Poly, 81-64

In sweeping fashion, Hawai’i continued its climb up the Big West Conference standings Saturday night by rolling past visiting Cal Poly, 81-64, to take the two-game men’s basketball series at SimpliFi Arena at the Stan Sheriff Center.

Photo courtesy Chris Kadooka

James Jean-Marie scored a game-high 20 points off the bench and Justin Webster added 18 points for the Warriors, who improved to 7-5 overall and 5-5 in the Big West. Casdon Jardine added 11 points and a game-high eight rebounds, and Noel Coleman contributed 10 points off the bench. Ali Karoma scored a team-high 18 points, Colby Rogers added 16 points and Brantly Stevenson contributed 12 points off the bench for the Mustangs, who fell to 3-13, 1-9.

UH, which started Big West play at 1-4, is now tied for fifth place with Long Beach State after completing its first two-game sweep of this unique conference season.

“I’m really happy for our guys, first off, to fight back in this game and the last couple of weeks to put themselves in this position,” Warriors coach Eran Ganot said. “I thought it was a really tough game, I don’t think the (final) score was indicative of the way the game went. We separated late in the first half and was able to maintain, but it was a tough game and one we expected — we have a lot of respect for Cal Poly and their coach and their program, and they outworked us to start the game. And I thought we were working hard, but they outworked us …

“We did a good job in all three areas, our offensive flow was great, but our turnovers in the first half was not. But we took care of the ball in the second half, we executed, we out-rebounded the other team again, it’s good to see that happening, we did a great job defending the 3. And this was the first game where we really had to deal with foul trouble from our limited depth inside. I thought we navigated that pretty well, and I appreciate the guys for that.” 

Photo courtesy Chris Kadooka

After Tuuka Jaakola dropped in a layup to give Cal Poly a 28-26 lead with 5:16 remaining in the first half, Jean-Marie answered with his own drop-in layup to ignite an 18-5 run capped by Jean-Marie’s hook shot with 50 seconds left to put Hawai’i ahead, 44-33. The Mustangs closed it to 44-35 by halftime, and got as close as 58-50 after Stevenson’s two free throws midway through the second half, but the Warriors slowly pulled away and eventually led 81-62 on Coleman’s 15-foot jumper with 1:20 remaining.

Stevenson, a scrappy 6-foot-4 freshman guard, made all four of his field goal attempts and all four of his free throws, and added three steals in showing himself to be a disruptive force in both halves.

“To be honest, and rightfully so, we were worried about this group (Cal Poly),” Ganot said. “They’ve been in games, and they have some youth like we do, and they have some depth, which I guess we don’t right now. (Stevenson) is a young freshman, and I think Kobe Sanders is a really good young freshman, those are good young players. And when you have a veteran point guard like they have (Keith Smith), and they have shooting, and an inside force — Komora is only a sophomore, and he’s done a really good job of improving. I’ve seen (Stevenson) have big games earlier in the year, so I’m not so much surprised by it, but I wish we could have stopped it. But he’s a heckuva player.”

Just as it did in Friday night’s 84-68 victory, UH was able to separate a bit in the first half thanks in large part to consistent shooting. Led by Jean-Marie (4 for 5, nine points), Jardine (2 for 4, seven points) and reserve point guard Biwali Bayles (3 for 3, six points), the Warriors hit 18 of 29 field goals (62.1 percent), including 3 of 8 (37.5 percent) from 3-point range.

Jardine, who was held scoreless a week ago in a 62-61 overtime victory over UC Irvine, scored a combined 25 points this weekend.

Photo courtesy Chris Kadooka

“Having other guys knocking down shots, a team can’t hone in specifically on me,” said Jardine, a graduate transfer who at one point last month led the nation in 3-point shooting percentage. “They can’t full-on deny me, because they have to be in better positions to guard these other guys who are starting to shoot the ball really well. Web is knocking down everything that comes his way, so teams are going to have to start to guard him probably the way I’m being guarded, and that’s going to be great for us because the floor is just going to be spread wide open.”

The hot shooting continued in the second half, as Hawai’i was able to open the lead to 56-39 after Webster’s baseline drive and layup on the right side with 14:33 remaining. This surge came even after Jean-Marie picked up his fourth foul less than three minutes into the second half, and he was replaced by Mate Colina, who had three fouls himself.

Jean-Marie returned at the 10:15 mark, and proceeded to score 13 points over the next eight and a half minutes to help the Warriors’ extend that 58-50 lead into a 79-62 one with 1:40 showing on the clock.

“Coach Ganot told me to come into the game and just be smart about it, because I didn’t want to foul out,” said Jean-Marie, a 6-8 senior post. “I think I did pretty good tonight, being engaged and playing hard but safe on defense.”

Jean-Marie was a top scorer for UH early in the season but had been a relatively quiet presence the past few weeks.

Photo courtesy Chris Kadooka

“The past two weeks I’ve been dealing with some stuff off the court, so I wasn’t playing too well on the court,” said Jean-Marie, a transfer from San Diego. “But I came back really strong tonight and we got the victory, so that’s what matters.”

Ganot said contributions from the entire team have made a big difference in the Warriors flipping the script and winning four of their past five games, after earlier losing four straight in Big West play.

“I think it’s been coming on, and we have a lot of good players that we can start (in) several lineups and create different match-ups,” Ganot said. “What I’m proud of is, everybody’s been ready to go. We’ve been saying that everybody’s had flashes, but when we all click at the same time, you can separate and that’s what’s been happening. But we still have a ways to go.”

The Warriors had their best two shooting games of this season in the two victories over Cal Poly – 58.3 percent field goal shooting on Friday, followed by 55.2 percent on Saturday. Webster led the way, going 7 for 8 from the field overall on Saturday, including 4 for 4 from 3-point range. For the weekend, he scored 39 total points and shot 13 for 15 overall and 8 for 9 from 3-point range.

Also of note from Saturday’s win, sophomore guard JoVon McClanahan had a season-high seven assists, and junior forward Justin Hemsley contributed five points and numerous highlight-reel defensive plays.

The two victories over Cal Poly, which came after a late schedule change last Wednesday and almost six weeks past the originally scheduled dates of Dec. 27 and 28, take on more significance because this series replaced a road trip to UC San Diego in which both games would not have counted in the Big West standings due to UCSD’s provisional status in moving from NCAA Division II to DI.   

“This series that we picked up with Cal Poly is huge for us,” Jardine said. “To win both of these, now we’re 5-5 in conference and we’re fifth … it’s a big-time opportunity for us right now.”

Hawai’i will conclude it’s unexpected six-game homestand Friday and Saturday against UC Santa Barbara. The Gauchos are currently tied for first place in the Big West at 6-2, although both losses came against UC Irvine, which is also 6-2.

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Big West Conference
Saturday’s Results
at Hawai’i 81, Cal Poly 64
UC Davis 75, at CSUN 63
CSU Bakersfield 62, at UC Irvine 57
*Sacramento State at UC San Diego, canceled
UC Riverside at Cal State Fullerton, canceled
Long Beach State at UC Santa Barbara, canceled

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