Warrior Insider

The Inside Source for Hawaii Men's Basketball

UC Irvine stops Warriors, 76-68

The University of Hawai’i basketball team fell behind early and could not catch up in a 76-68 road loss at UC Irvine on Thursday at the Bren Events Center in Irvine, Calif.

A crowd of 2,223 at the Bren Events Center in Irvine, Calif., watched the Anteaters win the battle of teams that were tied for second place entering contest.

The Rainbow Warriors dropped to 14-5 overall and are now in fourth place in the Big West Conference at 5-2. The Anteaters improved to 13-6 overall and are tied for second place at 6-1.

Kamaka Hepa had a double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Warriors. JoVon McClanahan added 14 points, Noel Coleman scored 13, and Samuta Avea scored nine for Hawai’i, which is 1-2 on the road against BWC opponents. Beon Riley contributed eight points and seven rebounds off the bench for the Warriors.

“They out-physicaled us and obviously set the tone early in the game,” Hawai’i head coach Eran Ganot said in a post-game interview on ESPN Honolulu radio. “I don’t know if both teams were ready to go. I just thought that we missed some good looks and then they extended (the lead) and we were playing catch up the rest of the game.”

Hawai’i shot a respectable 41.1 percent (23 for 56) from the field, but UCI was better at 49.2 percent (29 for 59). It is the highest percentage for a UH opponent this season. The Warriors entered the game limiting opponents to an average of 60.3 points per game and a .393 field goal percentage.

UCI shot just 3 for 19 (15.8 percent) from 3-point range, but made up for it by out-scoring Hawai’i 44-24 on points in the paint.

“Obviously we defended the 3 well, but they shot better than anybody has shot against us this entire year,” Ganot noted.

The Anteaters opened the game with a 12-2 lead, as the Warriors shot 1 for 7 and committed four turnovers in the opening minutes.

UCI went on a 9-0 run later in the first half to increase its lead to 21-7 with 8:00 remaining. Hepa drained a 3-pointer just before the halftime horn to get Hawai’i within single-digits at 35-27 at intermission.

The Warriors opened the second half with a 7-2, including a 3-pointer by Beon Riley, to cut the UCI lead to 37-34. But the Anteaters responded immediately with a 9-2 run of their own to push their lead back up to 46-36 with 14:18 remaining.

The closest the Warriors got after that was 48-42, before the Anteaters pulled away in the closing minutes.

“Proud of our guys to end the half and start the second half, cut it to three,” Ganot said. “As many lapses as we’ve had. We were fortunate to be in the game with the lapses we had and some of the guys not being ready to go.”

Coleman went 7 for 7 on free throws to extend his streak of consecutive made free throws to 27. The UH record for consecutive free throws is 34, set by Brocke Stepteau during the 2018-19 season.

DJ Davis scored 18 points and Dawson Baker had a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds to lead UCI.

The Warriors will remain in California for another BWC game on Saturday, at first-place UC Riverside. That game will start at 1:00 p.m. Pacific Time (11:00 a.m. Hawai’i) and will be televised on Spectrum SportsNet.

CLICK HERE to view boxscore

Big West Conference
Thursday’s Results

UC Riverside 74, at UC Davis 72
at UC Santa Barbara 72, CSUN 50
UC San Diego 71, at Cal Poly 64
at Long Beach State 72, Cal State Fullerton 67
at UC Irvine 76, Hawai’i 68

Saturday’s Games
Hawai’i at UC Riverside
Cal Poly at UC Davis
Long Beach State at UC San Diego
CSU Bakersfield at UC Santa Barbara
Cal State Fullerton at CSUN

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