Warrior Insider

The Inside Source for Hawaii Men's Basketball

Warriors take on UC Santa Barbara with a shot at first place

A long shot is better than no shot, and the University of Hawai’i basketball team will take it in the regular-season finale at UC Santa Barbara on Saturday.

WarriorInsider.com file photo courtesy Brandon Flores

The Rainbow Warriors have an outside chance to finish in a three- or four-way tie for first place if they can beat the Gauchos. Saturday’s game is scheduled to start at 6:00 p.m. Pacific Time (4:00 p.m. Hawai’i) at the Thunderdome in Santa Barbara, Calif. It will be televised nationally on ESPNU.

Hawai’i is 22-9 overall and currently tied for third place in the Big West Conference at 13-6. UCSB is 23-7 overall and tied for first place with UC Irvine at 14-5 in conference play.

Two scenarios need to happen for the Warriors to move into a tie for first place: 1. the Warriors have to beat UCSB. 2. CSU Bakersfield has to upset UC Irvine. UC Irvine is at home and listed as a 15-point favorite.

UC Riverside could make it a foursome at the top with a road win at last-place Cal Poly.

Even if Hawai’i finishes in a tie for first place, it will not be enough to earn the No. 1 seed for next week’s Big West Conference Championship Tournament. If the Warriors beat UCSB on Saturday, they will be the No. 3 seed. If Hawai’i loses at UCSB, it will be either the No. 4 or No. 5 seed.

WarriorInsider.com file photo courtesy Matt Osumi

As added incentive, the Warriors are seeking to avenge a 65-64 home loss to UCSB on January 26. Ajay Mitchell scored on a driving bank shot with 1.9 seconds remaining to give the Gauchos the win.

Hawai’i has won its last two games, including an 81-55 road rout at CSUN on Thursday. Freshman center Mor Seck has started the last two games in place of injured Bernardo da Silva, and has responded with an average of 13.5 points and 13.0 rebounds in those two wins.

Noel Coleman leads the Warriors in scoring at 12.1 points per game, but three other starters are averaging double-figure points. Kamaka Hepa is contributing 11.8 points and 6.5 rebounds per game, and leads the team with 64 3-pointers. JoVon McClanhan is averaging 11.3 points and 3.4 assists per game, and Samuta Avea is at 10.0 points and 4.6 rebounds per game.

Mitchell, who scored 24 points in UCSB’s win at Hawai’i, leads the Gauchos with 15.9 points and 4.6 assists per game. Miles Norris, a 6-10 senior forward, is averaging 14.1 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. Andre Kelly, a 6-9 senior forward, is contributing 9.6 points and 6.4 rebounds per game

The Gauchos are on a three-game winning streak, including an 89-86 road win at UC Davis on Thursday.

UCSB is 11-3 at home this season, while Hawai’i is 6-3 on the road. The Gauchos own a 9-2 record against Hawai’i in games played in the Thunderdome. The Warriors’ last win in Santa Barbara came during the 2016 conference championship season.

HAWAI’I (22-9 overall, 13-6 Big West) at UC SANTA BARBARA (23-7, 14-5)
Saturday, March 4, 6:00 p.m. Pacific Time (4:00 p.m. Hawai’i)
Where: Thunderdome, Santa Barbara, Calif.
Video streaming: ESPN+
Radio/audio streaming: ESPN Honolulu (92.7 FM, 1420 AM, espnhonolulu.com, Sideline Hawaii app)

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

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