Warrior Insider

The Inside Source for Hawaii Men's Basketball

UPDATED: Warriors stymied by UC Santa Barbara, 59-50

As good as advertised and apparently inspired by its new solo perch atop the Big West Conference men’s basketball standings, visiting UC Santa Barbara stole away any hopes of an upset from Hawai’i and held off the Warriors, 59-50, in a key showdown Friday night at SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center.

Photo courtesy Brandon Flores / www.brandonfloresphotography.com

Amadou Sow scored 14 points and grabbed four rebounds, Jaquori McLaughlin added 14 points and four assists, and Josh Pierre-Louis contributed 11 points, three steals and three boards off the bench as the Gauchos won their ninth straight game and improved to 13-3 overall and 7-2 in the Big West, good for sole possession of first place after previous co-leader UC Irvine was upset at UC Riverside earlier in the day. James Jean-Marie scored 10 points and grabbed four boards off the bench to lead the Warriors, who saw their three-game win streak snapped and fell to 7-6, 5-6.

The two teams will run it back again Saturday at 7 p.m. at SimpliFi Arena.

“Tough loss, I think the name of the game came down to our offensive execution and our inability to rebound in the second half,” said UH coach Eran Ganot. “I thought our guys did a heckuva job defensively against a top offensive team in our league, so you’d figure we’d give ourselves a chance to do something. But our inability to generate anything offensively was disappointing. There was a big difference between them making shots around the rim and us not making shots around the rim. We gotta do a better job of putting our guys in a better position to succeed, and we look forward to getting back to work.”

UH took an early 12-10 lead on Jean-Marie’s mid-range jumper from the right wing with 12:33 remaining in the first half, but Pierre-Louis scored on a steal and fast-break slam dunk just over a minute later to ignite a 12-0 run capped by Robinson Idehen’s three-point play to make it 22-12 with 6:35 left.

“It was a pivotal part in the game, I’m glad our guys fought back, but that stretch was significant,” Ganot said. “I called a timeout to try to stem the tide a bit, but for sure the turnovers (hurt).”

The Warriors later cut it to 22-16 after Justin Webster’s two free throws with five minutes remaining, but UCSB extended the lead to 28-20 at halftime.

Photo courtesy Brandon Flores / www.brandonfloresphotography.com

“We just struggled to get into an offensive flow,” Webster said. “They pressured the guards and made it hard to get into our attack. No team had really pressured us like that.”

The Warriors made just 8 of 32 field goal attempts (25 percent), including just 2 of 10 from 3-point range, and committed eight turnovers — four of which came on steals – in the first half. 

“It’s something we had seen earlier in the year and we thought we thought we were improving, but we kind of went back,” Ganot said. “We missed some shots early, and they picked up the pressure, and it got us on our heels. We were basically running our offense closer to halfcourt, and that’s a credit to them. But we’re disappointed we took a step backward as far as handling pressure.”

The Gauchos then stretched the lead to 37-24 after Pierre-Louis capped a 9-2 run at the 14:35 mark and Hawai’i was only able to get as close as 41-37 on Justin Hemsley’s mid-range jumper with 9:06 left. UCSB answered with a 7-1 surge started by Idehen’s putback and culminating in Destin Barnes’ 20-foot jumper from the left corner to make it 48-38 with just over five minutes remaining.

“I appreciate our guys fighting back, but then they get a 50/50 ball (on Idehen’s rebound and putback) and then we didn’t get it done,” Ganot said. “I thought Biwali (Bayles) gave us a lift in the second half with his pressure attack, but we couldn’t get over the hump.” 

Photo courtesy Brandon Flores / www.brandonfloresphotography.com

The Warriors later closed it to 50-43 on Casdon Jardine’s three-point play with 3:16 left, but could not get closer the rest of the way.

On the positive side, UH held the Gauchos to 36.7 percent shooting (22 of 60) from the field, including just 18.8 percent (3 of 16) from beyond the arc. But on the negative side, the Warriors made only one third of their field goals (18 of 54) themselves, including just 4 of 18 (22.2 percent) from 3-point range. The Warriors hit season lows for points, shooting percentage (.333), and assists (5).

“We need to defend like we did again,” Ganot said. “They (usually) shoot 50 percent and score 80 a game, (so) we did a good job there and we gotta do it again. On the other end, we gotta be more consistent on the boards, we had those turnovers and that stretch where they converted off them, and we had (only) five assists. This is a recurrent theme unfortunately for this current team. Our program has been top 50, top 25 in assist percentage for five years in a row, and right now we’re 300th in the country. So if we see pressure, we revert, we play a little bit more isolation, we don’t execute.”  

Ganot said although his team did a better job with ball security in the second half (only five turnovers), UCSB still won that battle overall (only seven turnovers for the game), which was a key factor.

“They get five more possessions than other teams, and we turned it over 12 times, but they turned it over seven, so they still got their five (extra) possessions,” Ganot said. “You add those up in a game like that … it came down to more possessions, and they beat us on the boards by (three), and we ended up paying.”

Webster said having seen and gone through the Gauchos’ pressure defense on Friday, he and his teammates will be better prepared for Saturday’s rematch.

“We know what they’re going to do now,” Webster said, “and we’ll be ready for it.”

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Big West Conference
Friday’s Results

at UC Davis 68, Long Beach State 66
at CSU Bakersfield 76, UC San Diego 71
at UC Riverside 86, UC Irvine 65
UC Santa Barbara 59, at Hawai’i 50
Cal State Fullerton at Cal Poly, canceled

Saturday’s Games
Long Beach State at UC Davis, 1:00 p.m. PT
UC San Diego at CSU Bakersfield, 4:00 p.m. PT
UC Santa Barbara at Hawai’i, 7:00 p.m. PT
UC Irvine at UC Riverside, 9:00 p.m. PT
Cal State Fullerton at Cal Poly, canceled

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