Warrior Insider

The Inside Source for Hawaii Men's Basketball

Warriors aiming for season sweep of Long Beach on Saturday

If the regular season is about taking it one game at a time, the University of Hawai’i basketball team has six more chances to chase down the leaders in the Big West conference.

A big chance happens this Saturday, when the Rainbow Warriors play a BWC road game at Long Beach State. The game is scheduled to start at 4:00 p.m. Pacific Time (2:00 p.m. Hawai’i) at the Walter Pyramid in Long Beach, Calif. Live streaming video will be available via ESPN+.

Hawai’i is 18-8 overall and in fourth place in the conference at 9-5. The Warriors’ last game resulted in a rough 52-51 home loss to Cal State Fullerton on Feb. 11.

The Beach, which is coming off an 88-76 road loss at UC Riverside on Wednesday, is 15-12 overall and tied for fifth in the BWC at 9-6.

UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara are tied for first place at 11-3, meaning Hawai’i and Long Beach State are still mathematically in contention for the regular-season championship.

The Warriors defeated the Beach, 79-70, on January 14 in Honolulu. It was a noteworthy game for one statistical category: Hawai’i out-rebounded LBSU 48-39.

The Beach ranks second in the nation for rebounding at 41.2 per game. Hawai’i is one of only two BWC teams to win the battle of the boards against the Beach this season (UC Riverside is the other).

Hawai’i’s post tandem of 6-10 Kamaka Hepa and 6-9 Bernardo da Silva combined for 26 rebounds in last month’s win over the Beach, and they will have to be at their best again this time. Hepa had a double-double of 11 points and 14 rebounds, and is averaging 11.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game for the season. He also leads the Warriors with 55 3-pointers and a .399 percentage from long range.

Hepa and da Silva will be matched against LBSU’s 6-10 Lassina Traore and 6-5 Aboubacar Traore, who are both from Cote d’Ivoire but are not related.

Lassina leads the BWC in rebounding at 10.6 per game and is also scoring 12.0 points per game. Against BWC opposition, his averages rise to 13.6 points and 11.9 rebounds per game. He has recorded a statistical double-double in nine of the Beach’s 15 BWC games this season. However, he had one of his worst performances of the season at Hawai’i, when he was limited to four points and three rebounds in 14 foul-plagued minutes.

Aboubacar is averaging 10.1 points and 8.7 rebounds per game, and had 16 points and 11 rebounds in the loss at Hawai’i.

There will also be intriguing matchups on the perimeter. Hawai’i junior guard Noel Coleman scored a season-high 25 points in the previous win over the Beach, and leads the Warriors in overall scoring at 13.2 points per game.

Senior forward Samuta Avea scored 17 against the Beach and is averaging 10.3 points and 4.7 rebounds per game for the season. Junior point guard JoVon McClanahan scored 15 against the Beach and is contributing 10.6 points and 3.2 assists per game.

On the other side, Marcus Tsohonis, a 6-3 junior, has emerged as the Beach’s top scoring threat. He is averaging 15.4 points per game overall, including 17.6 per game against BWC opponents. He became a go-to scorer midway through the season, after star guard Joel Murray suffered a season-ending wrist injury.

Jadon Jones, a 6-5 sophomore, is the Beach’s top shooter with 36 3-pointers. Tone Hunter, a 6-1 sophomore, is averaging 7.4 points per game and scored 18 in the loss at Hawai’i.

The game will also feature a clash of styles. The Beach averages 78.3 points per game, but also allows 76.3. Hawai’i scores 67.3 points per game, and allows just 61.7.

The Warriors also lead the nation for fewest 3-pointers allowed with 109, but the Beach ranks last in the BWC for 3-pointers (4.0 per BWC game) and 3-point percentage (.264).

HAWAI’I (18-8 overall, 9-5 Big West) at LONG BEACH STATE (15-12, 9-6)
Saturday, February 18, 4:00 p.m. Pacific (2:00 p.m. Hawai’i)
Where: Walter Pyramid, Long Beach, Calif.
TV/Video streaming: ESPN+
Radio/Audio streaming: ESPN Honolulu (92.7 FM, 1420 AM, espnhonolulu.com, Sideline Hawaii app)

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

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

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