Warrior Insider

The Inside Source for Hawaii Men's Basketball

UPDATED: Warriors top Long Beach State, 79-76, in a “Senior Night” thriller

Why should the final home game of this unique season be any different from the others for the University of Hawai’i basketball team?

Photo courtesy Brandon Flores

In yet another roller-coaster game with an exhilarating finish, the Rainbow Warriors rallied past Long Beach State, 79-76, on Saturday at the SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center.

Senior center James Jean-Marie recorded a double-double – 20 points and a season-high 12 rebounds – to lead the Rainbow Warriors to a two-game sweep of the Beach. Three teammates reached double-figure points: Justin Webster with 14 points and eight rebounds, Junior Madut had 13 points and six rebounds, and Casdon Jardine contributed 10 points and five rebounds.

The Warriors improved to 10-8 overall and 8-8 in the Big West Conference. Hawai’i is currently in a tie for fifth place with two more games remaining in the regular season. The Beach dropped to 5-9 overall and is in ninth place (out of 10) at 4-6.

The top six teams in the final regular-season standings will be seeded into the quarterfinals of the Big West Conference Championship Tournament, March 9-13 at Las Vegas. The seven through 10 seeds will play “first round” games to get to the quarterfinals.

The Warriors put themselves in a better position to finish in the top six with a second-half rally for the second consecutive night against the Beach. On Friday, Hawai’i erased a 13-point deficit; on Saturday, it came back from 10 points down.

“I’m pumped with the win,” head coach Eran Ganot said. “I’m really excited and fired up about the way our guys played after the first couple minutes of the second half.”

The Warriors trailed by 10 points early in the second half, led by 15 points late in the second half, then survived a furious late-game comeback attempt by Long Beach. The game ended with neither team scoring in the final 90 seconds.

Hawai’i missed a 3-pointer as the shot clock was about to expire on its final possession, and Long Beach grabbed the rebound with 9 seconds remaining. Without calling a timeout, Long Beach’s Michael Carter III dribbled down court then missed a 3-pointer from the top of the key as the final horn sounded. Carter led the Beach with 20 points and seven rebounds.

Photo courtesy Brandon Flores

“This group has shown resiliency all year,” Ganot said. “It’s a matter of consistency. But the resiliency, there’s no question. These 16 games, we’ve made big comebacks. We did it (Friday), and we did it again (Saturday). We’ve done it over the course of the year. Again, it’s getting from 20 minutes, to 25, to 30, and getting closer to that 40-minute consistent focus and effort.”

Jean-Marie played a large role. The 6-foot-8 senior transfer from San Diego shot 8 for 11 from the field, and was effective on the inside and outside. Of his 12 rebounds, nine were offensive boards, leading to several putbacks. He also went 3 for 3 from 3-point range.

“It was pretty insane,” Jean-Marie said. “My teammates were happy for me, I was happy for them. We were just sharing the ball and I had a great time on the floor tonight.”

In Friday’s game against Long Beach, Jean-Marie tallied nine points and two rebounds. He did not even attempt a 3-pointer or grab an offensive rebound in that contest.

“The coaches talked to me before the game and they wanted me to be aggressive and rebound the ball for us, defensively and offensively,” he said. “That’s what I did.”

Jean-Marie scored 17 of his points in the second half to lead the Hawai’i rally. Earlier in the game, it was Madut who kept the Warriors in it.

Madut scored 11 of UH’s first 14 points, leading the Warriors to an early 14-13 advantage after the game’s first eight minutes.

Hawai’i led by as many as seven (26-19) in the first half, but the Beach went on a stunning 19-1 surge during a six-minute stretch late in the half to take a 38-27 advantage. The Warriors shot 0 for 10 from the field and 1 for 4 on free throws during that stretch.

However, Hawai’i closed the half with two layups in the final minute to cut the Beach lead to 38-31 at intermission.

The Beach got the lead up to 10 again at 45-35 early in the second half, but the Warriors warmed up, and then went on a stunning offensive run of their own. During a six-minute stretch midway through the second half, Hawai’i went 11 for 11 from the field to take a 65-55 lead with 10:45 remaining.

Six different Warriors contributed during that stretch. Webster went 4 for 4, Noel Coleman and Jardine each went 2 for 2 (Coleman’s came on back-to-back 3-pointers), and Jean-Marie, Madut and Mate Colina each went 1 for 1.

Photo courtesy Brandon Flores

“I’ve seen it at times in practice,” Ganot said. “I will say this, when it happens, it’s with unbelievable push, execution, sharing the ball, wide open shots. Those were great looks that lead to good percentages. I’ve seen a lot of those over the years (but) 11 for 11? I would bet I haven’t seen that.”

Jardine, UH’s only other senior other than Jean-Marie, said the Warriors’ previous experience with erasing early deficits has allowed the team to process similar situations in a calm manner.

“I would say first of all, we’ve done it before,” Jardine said. “The fact that we were able to realize we’ve been in this situation where we’re down at halftime and we’ve come back and won those games is definitely huge. But the biggest thing is we’re just able to recognize the things that we weren’t doing in the first half.”

The Warriors seemed to be in control with a 75-60 lead with 6:29 remaining, but the Beach made it interesting in the closing minutes behind a full-court pressure defense. Hawai’i committed three turnovers and shot 0 for 3 from the field and 2 for 4 on free throws in the final four minutes.

“I’m just glad we got it done, but obviously if we make our free throws and we handle the pressure, we’re not in that situation. So we’ll continue to get back to work.”

Even with the hot stretch in the second half, the Warriors finished the game shooting 42.6 percent from the field, including 32.1 percent (9 for 28) from 3-point range. The Beach actually had a better shooting night overall (50 percent) and from 3-point range (8 for 18, 44.4 percent).

Photo courtesy Brandon Flores

Led by Jean-Marie, the Warriors won the rebounding battle, 43-32. Hawai’i’s 17 offensive rebounds led to 17 “second chance” points, while the Beach had just four offensive rebounds and four second chance points.

Before and after the game, tributes were made to seniors Jardine and Jean-Marie. During the introductions of the starting lineups, Jean-Marie was introduced via video by his junior college coach, Cody Hopkins, and Jardine was introduced by various members of his family.

After the game, those same representatives made video speeches for the seniors.

“No one does Senior Night like Hawai’i,” Ganot said. “It’s not what it was, but you can control what you can control and I think the University of Hawai’i and all our partners have done as good a job as possible and I can’t thank everybody enough for making these guys feel special during a unique situation.”

Due to the issues caused during the COVID-19 pandemic, seniors will be allowed to return next season, if they choose to do so. Both Jardine and Jean-Marie have indicated that they may not return, but have not yet made final decisions.

The Warriors will close the regular season with conference road games at UC Davis on March 5 and 6. They will then go straight from Davis, Calif., to Las Vegas for the conference tournament.

CLICK HERE to view the boxscore

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Saturday’s Results
UC Davis 68, at Cal Poly 66 (OT)
at UC Irvine 75, UC San Diego 64
at UC Riverside 68, UC Santa Barbara 52
CSUN 90, at CSU Bakersfield 87
at Hawai’i 79, Long Beach State 76

1 Comment

  1. Crazy ending there lol congrats to the senors! Really miss the crowd
    And the senior night. Hopefully next year the crowd will be able to attend.

    The bigwest tourney is going to be very interesting this year with Bakersfield in
    The mix. I still fill this team can beat anybody when they’re firing on all cylinders.

    Go Bows!

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