Warrior Insider

The Inside Source for Hawaii Men's Basketball

First-place Warriors at Cal State Fullerton on Saturday

Last season is last season for the University of Hawai’i basketball team. But it helps to look back at a few items from a year ago to put Saturday’s game at Cal State Fullerton in context.

Photo courtesy Chris Kadooka

The Rainbow Warriors will take a seven-game winning streak and possession of first place in the Big West Conference to Titan Gym in Fullerton, Calif., on Saturday. Believe it or not, last season’s Hawai’i squad also had a seven-game winning streak and held the early lead atop the BWC.

The Warriors are 12-3 overall and 3-0 in conference action. CSUF is 8-7 and 2-1. Saturday’s game is scheduled to start at 6:00 p.m. Pacific Time (4:00 p.m. Hawai’i) and will be televised/streamed on ESPN+.

It was also last season that the Warriors and Titans played a game of significance – the semifinals of the Big West Tournament at Henderson, Nev. CSUF won that game and went on to win the conference tournament, earning a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

That’s in the past. Here is the now:

The Titans are coming off an impressive 77-62 road win at UC Riverside on Thursday. They shot a season-high 61.5 percent from the field, including 8 for 13 from 3-point range. It is noteworthy that UCR was without all-conference candidate Zyon Pullin, who sat out with an ankle injury.

Fullerton has three returning starters from last season’s NCAA Tournament team: Vincent Lee, Tory San Antonio, and Latrell Wrightsell Jr.

Wrightsell, a 6-foot-3 junior guard, was a role player last season, but has emerged as the leading scorer for the Titans this season. He scored 29 points, including 5-of-7 shooting from 3-point range, in Fullerton’s win at Riverside on Thursday. He is averaging 16.4 points per game and lead the BWC with 37 made 3-pointers and a .407 percentage from 3-point range.

Jalen Harris, a 6-1 senior, was a reserve last season but is now in the starting lineup. He is averaging 13.7 points and 2.5 assists per game.

Photo courtesy www.brandonfloresphotography.com

Lee, a 6-8 senior, is averaging 10.0 points and 5.6 rebounds per game, and leads the team with a .588 field goal percentage.

CSUF’s only BWC loss this season was at home to conference favorite UC Santa Barbara, 66-58. The game was tied with 1:16 remaining before UCSB pulled away with free throws down the stretch.

Hawai’i is coming off a 62-49 road win at UC San Diego. It is the second consecutive game that the Warriors held their opponent under 50 points.

The Warriors are now ranked 13th in NCAA-I for scoring defense at 59.0 points allowed per game. They have also allowed the fewest 3-pointers in all of NCAA-I at 62, and are  are 8th in NCAA-I for 3-point percentage defense at .270.

Hawai’i has used the same starting lineup for all 15 games this season, and those five account for the bulk of the scoring.

Junior guard Noel Coleman is averaging 13.7 points per game, and has scored in double-digits in 11 of 15 games this season. Senior forward Kamaka Hepa is averaging 11.3 points and 6.6 rebounds per game, and leads the team with 30 3-pointers and a .406 percentage from 3-point range.

Junior forward/center Bernardo da Silva is contributing 9.9 points and 6.7 rebounds per game, and recorded 20 points on 9-of-11 shooting in Thursday’s win at UC San Diego.

Senior forward Samuta Avea is at 9.5 points and 3.9 rebounds per game, and junior point guard JoVon McClanahan is at 9.3 points and 2.8 assists per game.

The Warriors should have a size advantage in the post, led by the 6-10 Hepa and 6-9 da Silva. They also have 7-1 Mor Seck and 6-9 Harry Rouhliadeff in reserve.

At 6-8, Vincent Lee is considered CSUF’s center, and 6-5 Max Jones is essentially the power forward. Garrison Wade, a 6-7 senior transfer from Dartmouth, is the primary back-up.

Also, the Warriors are 6-2 in eight previous games at CSUF, making Titan Gym one of their most successful road destinations.

HAWAI’I (12-3, 3-0 Big West) at CAL STATE FULLERTON (8-7, 2-1)
Saturday, January 7, 6:00 p.m. Pacific (4:00 p.m. Hawai’i)
Where: Titan Gym, Fullerton, Calif.
TV/Video streaming: ESPN+
Radio: ESPN Honolulu (92.7 FM, 1420 AM, espnhonolulu.com, Sideline Hawai’i app)

Big West Conference
Saturday’s Games

UC Santa Barbara at Cal Poly
CSUN at UC Riverside
CSU Bakersfield at UC Davis
Long Beach State at UC Irvine
Hawai’i at Cal State Fullerton

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