Warrior Insider

The Inside Source for Hawaii Men's Basketball

Warriors aim to bounce back against CSU Bakersfield on Saturday

There are still plenty of rounds remaining for the University of Hawai’i basketball to show its fight this season. The Rainbow Warriors took a gut punch in the form of a 65-64 home loss to UC Santa Barbara on Thursday, but are still standing in the thick of the Big West Conference standings with five-plus weeks remaining in the regular season.

Photo courtesy Chris Kadooka

Hawai’i will get a chance to return to form on Saturday, when it hosts CSU Bakersfield in a BWC game at SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center. The game is scheduled to start at 7:00 p.m. and will be televised in Hawai’i on Spectrum Sports, with video streaming available on the web via ESPN+.

The Roadrunners are on much wobblier legs. Hawai’I is 15-6 overall and tied for fourth place in the BWC at 6-3. CSUB is 6-14 overall and in ninth place at 2-7.

The Warriors had a shot to move into a tie for first place on Thursday, but UCSB’s Ajay Mitchell hit a difficult running bank shot with 1.9 seconds remaining to give the Gauchos the win.

Hawai’i remains one of the nation’s top defensive teams statistically, allowing just 61.4 points per game. The Warriors also lead the nation for fewest 3-pointers allowed (86) and rank fifth nationally for 3-point percentage defense (.271).

The Warriors have not allowed any opponent to reach 80 points this season, and there’s a really good chance that CSUB will not be the first. The Roadrunners rely on a deliberate pace, and rank last (11th) in the BWC for scoring offense at 58.3 points per game. They are also last in the conference for 3-pointers made (4.2 per game) and free throws made (10.4 per game).

What’s more, CSUB’s best player – junior guard Kaleb Higgins – suffered a knee injury on January 5 and is expected to miss the rest of the season. He was averaging a team-high 13.1 points and 4.0 assists per game, and CSUB is 1-5 in the last six games without him.

In his absence, the Roadrunners do not have any players averaging double-figure points. Antavion Collum, a 6-foot-8 junior forward, leads the way with 9.8 points and 4.7 rebounds per game.

Photo courtesy Matt Osumi

Marvin McGhee III, a 6-4 sophomore guard, is the team’s top perimeter threat with 7.7 points per game and 31 3-pointers. He is also the only player who has started every game this season for CSUB.

In contrast, the Warriors have used the same starting five for every game this season, and those five account for 81 percent of the team’s points.

Junior guard Noel Coleman is averaging 13.9 points per game and has a streak of 27 consecutive free throws made, but he has not attempted any free throws in the last two games.

Kamaka Hepa, a 6-10 senior, is averaging 10.6 points and 6.8 rebounds per game and leads the team with 41 3-pointers and a .373 percentage from 3-point range. Bernardo da Silva, a 6-9 junior, is contributing 10.5 points per game and leads the team in rebounding (7.3) and blocked shots (26).

Junior point guard JoVon McClanahan is adding 10.4 points and 3.0 assists per game, and senior forward Samuta Avea is at 9.9 points and 4.5 rebounds per game.

CSUB became a member of the Big West during the 2020-21 season. Hawai’i swept two games from the Roadrunners last season, but during the COVID-altered 2021 season, CSUB went 2-0 against the Warriors in Honolulu.

HAWAI’I (15-6 overall, 6-3 Big West) vs. CSU BAKERSFIELD (6-14, 2-7)
Saturday, January 28, 7:00 p.m. Hawai’i Time
Where: SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center, Honolulu, HI
TV: Spectrum Sports Hawai’i (channels 12/1012)
Video streaming: ESPN+
Radio/audio streaming: ESPN Honolulu (92.7 FM, 1420 AM, espnhonolulu.com, Sideline Hawaii app)
Tickets: EticketHawaii.com

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

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