Warrior Insider

The Inside Source for Hawaii Men's Basketball

UPDATED: Warriors find a zone to rally past Long Beach State, 78-76

Getting by with a lot of help from its bench, Hawai’i overcame a 13-point second-half deficit Friday night and rallied past visiting Long Beach State, 78-76, in fast-paced Big West Conference men’s basketball action.

Photo courtesy Chris Kadooka

Justin Webster scored 16 points and JoVon McClanahan added 13 points off the bench at SimpliFi Arena at the Stan Sheriff Center as the Warriors improved to 9-8 overall and 7-8 in the Big West, good for sixth place. Justin Hemsley chipped in with 12 points and seven rebounds and Mate Colina contributed 10 points and five rebounds, both helping UH outscore the Beach 42-4 in points off the bench. Chance Hunter scored a game-high 23 points and Isaiah Washington added 17 points and four assists for Long Beach State, which fell to 5-8, 4-5, and into seventh place.

The two teams will run it back at 5 p.m. Saturday, with statewide broadcasts on Spectrum Sports (Channel 12) and ESPN1420AM radio. Out-of-state viewers can watch a live stream at BigWest.tv.

“Great win — I couldn’t be more excited for our guys,” Warriors coach Eran Ganot said. “Proud of our guys for fighting back, I didn’t think we were ready to go (at the start) and I didn’t think we started off the second half well defensively, but the last 15 minutes of the game might have been the best 15 minutes of our year. We stopped turning the ball over and started taking care of it, sharing the ball. And I think the story of the game tonight was our bench. Hemsley, Von, Noel (Coleman), Mate, Beon … those guys did an exceptional job when we didn’t have it going in some areas.

“So I’m really proud of them for hanging in there and giving themselves a chance, and looking forward to another battle tomorrow.”

Long Beach State jumped out to an 11-2 start and led 31-15 with six minutes remaining in the first half, thanks to an up-tempo transition game and hot 3-point shooting that both were similar to what Hawai’i saw in a road split at CSUN last weekend. The Warriors were able to cut it to 33-28 after Hemsley muscled in a layup with 2:02 remaining, but the Beach finished the half with a 6-2 run to take a 39-30 lead into the locker room.

Long Beach State made 14 of 25 field goals (56 percent) in the first half, including 5 of 10 from 3-point range. UH, meanwhile, shot just 44 percent (11 of 25) from the field, including only 15.4 percent (2 of 13) from beyond the arc. The Warriors also were plagued by nine turnovers and dished only four assists.

Photo courtesy Chris Kadooka

“I don’t like saying this, because I don’t think our group is known for this, but we were not ready to go,” Ganot said. “They hit us in the mouth, they picked up their pressure, we might have turned it over five or six times in the first six minutes. We played on our heels, we were adjusting to their small lineup and their aggressive style, and we didn’t move the ball. So you could see how we look when we execute and when we help each other, and when we don’t.”

The deficit could have been greater if not for the contributions off Hawai’i’s bench, which produced 15 points led by Colina (seven points) and Hemsley (four).

“Those guys were big, we were struggling in the first half but Hemsley really gave us a push, he brings a lot of energy, he brings a lot of grit and and a lot of fight,” said Webster, who had only three points in the first half. “Mate coming in and being such a great defender, and with his rebounding, it makes us that much better.” 

The Beach extended the lead to 53-40 five minutes into the second, but UH then chipped away and eventually tied it at 57-57 on Webster’s drive-and-drop with just under 11 minutes left. The Warriors took their first lead a minute later on the 5-foot-11 McClanahan’s drive and lefty layup over some trees to make it 61-60.

McClanahan scored all 13 of his points after halftime.

“That was just me being ready when my name was called,” said McClanahan, who had started four straight games earlier in the month. “As the season is going along, I’m getting more comfortable with the offense, the coaching staff and just playing with our team. So I think that was a big thing — I just said, ‘Play your game and don’t think too much.’ “

Aiding the comeback was a rare switch to a 2-3 zone, which appeared to slow down Long Beach State’s tempo and take the Beach deeper into the shot clock.

“We had worked in zone a little more in practice this week, (and) we had to go against it in the Northridge game,” Ganot said. “We’ve been working on it, we just haven’t used it much. So we put a little more focus in it, I thought the guys did a great job, we even played Hemsley at the three at times. They’re such an explosive team, and they’re No. 1 in the country at getting to the (free throw) line, the way they attack. So we just wanted to mix it up, and because it was a success for us, we stayed with it.”  

Photo courtesy Chris Kadooka

Long Beach State did get a couple of putbacks off the zone and then took the lead back, and later led, 69-66, after Joe Hampton’s putback with 5:21 remaining. But Hemsley’s 15-foot jumper from the left elbow dropped in to start an 10-2 run that put Hawai’i ahead, 76-71, after McClanahan’s 15-foot jumper from the right baseline with 1:15 showing on the clock.

“JoVon ignited us,” Ganot said. “He had a great week of practice, he earned the right to play more in the game, and then he earned the right to play a long time — it was hard to take him out. That’s kind of what we want from him, his aggressiveness, ability to shoot the ball. He stepped up big-time. And Hemsley through the whole game, making hustle plays, sticking two big 3’s, getting to the line, defending, rebounding.”

Long Beach State got as close as 78-76 on Michael Carter III’s two free throws with 11.8 seconds left and regained possession four seconds later after a Warrior turnover, but Hunter’s 3-point attempt from the right wing was on line but fell short as time expired. 

“This was a difficult game … it was a challenge for us,” Ganot said. “I’m really proud of our guys for hanging in there and playing right for a good stretch of the game, at key times.”

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Friday’s Games
UC Davis 69, at Cal Poly 61
at UC Irvine 80, UC San Diego 55
at CSU Bakersfield 84, CSUN 58
UC Santa Barbara 72, at UC Riverside 68
at Hawai’I 78, Long Beach State 76

Saturday’s Games
UC Davis at Cal Poly, 2:00 p.m. PT
UC San Diego at UC Irvine, 4:00 p.m. PT
CSUN at CSU Bakersfield, 7:00 p.m. PT
UC Santa Barbara at UC Riverside, 7:00 p.m. PT
Long Beach State at Hawai’i, 5:00 p.m. HT

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