Warrior Insider

The Inside Source for Hawaii Men's Basketball

Warriors hang on to beat the Beach, 70-67, and complete season sweep

The University of Hawai’i basketball team remained in contention for the Big West Conference regular-season title with a resilient 70-67 road win at Long Beach State on Saturday.

WarriorInsider.com file photo courtesy Chris Kadooka

A crowd of 1,715 at the Walter Pyramid in Long Beach, Calif., watched the Rainbow Warriors hold off a furious laterally from the Beach to improve to 19-8 overall and 10-5 in the BWC. Hawai’i is alone in fourth place and only two games behind first-place UC Irvine (12-3) with five games remaining.

The Beach, which trailed by as many as 14 points in the first half, dropped to 15-13 overall and 9-7 in the BWC. Hawai’i also defeated LBSU in Honolulu last month.

Kamaka Hepa scored 19 points and made a game-securing play in the closing seconds to lead the Warriors. Bernardo da Silva added 17 points and grabbed nine rebounds, and Samuta Avea and JoVon McClanahan scored nine points each for the Warriors.

“We had a week (to prepare),” Hawai’i head coach Eran Ganot said, noting that the Warriors did not have a weekday game earlier in the week. “We probably would have liked to take more advantage of that week, but we still had one extra practice than we normally have, (and) one extra day off that they deserve, so I think our guys had a great mindset coming in.”

Da Silva’s free throw with 4:41 remaining gave Hawai’i a seemingly commanding 64-51 lead, but the Beach then went on a 15-2 surge to tie the game at 66-all on a 3-pointer by Jadon Jones with 1:27 remaining. McClanahan scored on a driving shot on the ensuing possession to put the Warriors back in front, 68-66. Ganot noted that reserve forward Beon Riley made a key play when he sprinted downcourt to deflect a potential breakaway layup by LBSU’s Marcus Tsohonis with the Warriors hanging on to a 68-66 lead with 17 seconds remaining.

“Beon made one of the biggest plays I’ve seen,” Ganot said. “To have that kind of hustle from half-court to get back into the play just to make it difficult, but then to get it off (Tsohonis’)  knee and give us a chance to get us the ball, that’s about as big a play as you can have on the road.”

WarriorInsider.com file photo courtesy Chris Kadooka

The Beach had a chance to tie it again later when Tsohonis was fouled and had a chance for two free throws with 2.9 seconds remaining. He made the first, but missed the second.

Hepa secured the rebound, got fouled, and proceeded to drain two free throws to clinch the win. “That’s part of being a senior and a leader and a captain and he’s all that,” Ganot said.

Long Beach State entered the game ranked second in the nation in rebounding, but the Warriors won the battle of the boards, 32-28. It is the second time that Hawai’i out-rebounded the Beach this season.

Hawai’i raced to a 15-6 lead in the opening five minutes and stayed in front the entire first half. The Beach cut the Hawai’i lead to 19-18, but the Warriors responded with a 12-2 surge to increase the lead to 31-20.

The Warriors eventually took a 39-29 lead at intermission. Hepa scored 13 of his points in the first half, and da Silva had 12 points and eight rebounds in the first half.

AJ George led the Beach with 20 points, and Lassina Traore added 15 points.

Hawai’i will remain on the road for a BWC game at CSU Bakersfield on Monday. That game is scheduled to start at 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time (3:00 p.m. Hawai’i).

CLICK HERE to view boxscore

Saturday’s Results
at UC Irvine 78, UC Davis 76
at Cal State Fullerton 83, Cal Poly 62
at UC Riverside 74, UC Santa Barbara 63
at UC San Diego 75, CSUN 62
Hawai’i 70, at Long Beach State 67

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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