Warrior Insider

The Inside Source for Hawaii Men's Basketball

UPDATED: Warriors shoot past Cal Poly, 84-68

Taking advantage of a “bonus” game in its friendly confines, Hawai’i burned the nets at SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center Friday night en route to a convincing 84-68 victory over visiting Cal Poly in Big West Conference men’s basketball action.

Photo courtesy Brandon Flores / www.brandonfloresphotography.com

Justin Webster scored a game-high 20 points and grabbed six rebounds, and Mate Colina added 14 points and nine boards to help the Warriors improve to 6-5 overall and 4-5 in the Big West. Casdon Jardine added 14 points and four rebounds and Junior Madut contributed 13 points off the bench. Colby Rogers scored 15 points and Mark Crowe and Ali Koroma each added 12 points to lead the Mustangs, who fell to 3-12, 1-8.

The two teams will run it back again at 7 p.m. Saturday, with live broadcasts statewide on Spectrum Sports TV channel 12 and via radio on ESPN1420. The two game series was re-scheduled just a few days ago after the original dates of Dec. 27 and 28 were canceled about 48 hours prior to tipoff. UH had been scheduled to be on the road at UC San Diego this weekend, but those games were canceled in order to fit this Cal Poly series in.

“I’m pleased with the way our guys have fought back to be in the position we are in, after a tough start to the season,” Warriors coach Eran Ganot said. “It was nice to see our offensive flow improve. I know we can shoot the ball, I know we missed some good looks early, and I was pleased we continued to shoot those good looks because they’re good shooters. I know they were trying to take us off the 3 at times, but it was nice to see, I think it was coming.

“I was a little disappointed that our defense was not where it had been (last week) … but we were there on the boards, we beat them on the glass by 19 (38 to 19). I think if anything, it was a good win, we gotta get our rest, re-charge for a tough turnaround against a good team we have a lot of respect for and will bring it tomorrow. Things we need to clean up are defensively, and we gotta take care of the ball.”

Hawai’i led, 41-31, at halftime after shooting 52.2 percent (12 of 23) from the field, and shot even better (16 of 25, 64 percent) in the second half to keep the Mustangs at bay. The Warriors finished the game 28 of 48, including 9 of 19 (47.4 percent) from 3-point range.

This was following last week’s home series split with first place UC Irvine, in which UH struggled offensively and scored 51 and 62 points, respectively.

“We worked on everything offensively, it was a big offensive week for us (in practice) executing things, and the coaches worked on our mistakes,” said Webster, a sophomore co-captain.  “We were able to translate that to the court (tonight). I know the first 12 minutes we weren’t really in a rhythm, but once we caught a rhythm … credit to the coaches for that.”    

Photo courtesy Brandon Flores / www.brandonfloresphotography.com

Both teams started very slowly on offense as UH jumped out to a 7-2 lead in the first seven minutes, before Cal Poly responded with an 8-0 run to lead 10-7 midway through the first half. Madut came off the bench to hit a 3-pointer to put the Warriors back ahead at 12-10 a minute later, but the Mustangs answered with a 5-0 run to lead 15-12 after Crowe’s 3-pointer with eight minutes remaining.

Madut then stuck a mid-range jumper and then another 3-pointer from the right wing a minute later to put Hawai’i ahead for good at 17-15. The Warriors went up 23-17, and after Cal Poly closed it to 23-19, Jardine drained a 3-pointer to ignite a 15-4 run capped by Madut’s two free throws to give UH a 38-23 lead with 1:57 left.

Madut and senior center James Jean-Marie were kept out of the starting lineup for disciplinary reasons, but both made key contributions off the bench.

The Mustangs closed it to 41-31 by halftime, but the 41-point showing was almost as much as the Warriors had in the entire game in a 53-51 loss to UCI the week before.

“The biggest thing was at the start we missed some open shots, but once we started to make those 3-pointers it dragged out the defense and gave people more space, which was pretty evident,” said Colina, who had six points and four rebounds in the first half. “I’m pretty sure all their defenders had to worry about a lot of good shooters.”

Photo courtesy Brandon Flores / www.brandonfloresphotography.com

Ganot said another key was good ball movement, which did not happen consistently enough in the UCI series.

“We were not sharing the ball, like our program is known for,” Ganot said. “It’s gonna take some steps, and I thought today was a step. A lot of guys shared the ball, we (finished with) 15 assists. So I was really pleased with that, and we need to build off that moving forward because we talked about our offense being stagnant. We just need to do that without losing our defensive identity. You saw that in spurts in this game, but we had some key lapses that we really hadn’t had for a couple weeks, and we want to make sure we don’t go back the other way.”

Hawai’i made 6 of 11 attempts (54.5 percent) from 3-point range in the first half, and sank 11 of 14 free throws (78.6 percent). Webster scored 13 points in the first half on 4-for-4 shooting, including all three 3-point attempts. Madut had 10 points by halftime, and Jardine eight points and three rebounds.

“If we didn’t turn it over (tonight), we felt good about the way were performing on the offensive end,” Ganot said. 

After Cal Poly hung mostly even early in the second half, the Warriors stretched the lead to 62-45 after Biwali Bayles’ 3-pointer from beyond the top of the key, followed by Noel Coleman’s floater in the lane and then Jean-Marie’s layup with 11:33 to go. The Mustangs then clawed back a bit and closed it to 69-58 after a jumper by Rogers five minutes later, but UH responded with back-to-back 3-pointers by Webster and Jardine and later effectively sealed the victory when Jean-Marie’s 15-foot jumper from the left elbow made it 81-63 with 2:32 on the clock.

Despite the solid win, Ganot said he is wary of how well Cal Poly shot the ball from long range (10 of 25, 40 percent) and their weapons overall.

“They have good depth, they have an inside attack with two bigs inside, and you surround that with a point guard who is as quick as any in our league … and they have good shooting,” Ganot said. “So we were fortunate tonight to play the way we did offensively and off the glass, because we did not defend the 3 well. We can’t have that again tomorrow night.”

Photo courtesy Brandon Flores / www.brandonfloresphotography.com

For further motivation, Ganot said this is a unique chance for the Warriors to make up some ground in the league standings, since the UC San Diego games would not have counted in the Big West due to UCSD’s provisional status having just moved up from NCAA Division II.

“We’ve been trying to send that message always, but especially in these times,” Ganot said. “We’re fortunate to have the opportunity to practice and to play, and we kind of have a ‘bring it on’ mentality whatever happens because of interruptions and changes, we have to be ready for it. They might even continue to happen. In this situation, it’s an opportunity to make inroads in the league standings. But tomorrow is going to be a tough battle, they’re coming on. We were just fortunate to play well at key times, but tomorrow is going to be a heck of a challenge.”

After Friday’s Big West games, the Warriors moved up one spot to sixth place in the conference standings. It is worth noting that the top six teams at the end of the regular season will be seeded into the quarterfinals of the Big West Conference Championship Tournament. The 7 through 10 seeds will play “first round” games to qualify for the quarterfinals.

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Friday’s Results
Long Beach State at UC Santa Barbara, canceled
UC Riverside at Cal State Fullerton, canceled
at CSUN 80, UC Davis 77
at UC Irvine 70, CSU Bakersfield 53
at Hawai’i 84, Cal Poly 68

Saturday, February 6
Long Beach State at UC Santa Barbara, canceled
UC Riverside at Cal State Fullerton, canceled
*Sacramento State at UC San Diego, canceled
UC Davis at CSUN, 2:00 p.m. PT
CSU Bakersfield at UC Irvine, 7:00 p.m. PT
Cal Poly at Hawai’i, 7:00 p.m. HT

* Non-conference game

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