Hawaii holds firm to beat Bakersfield
Jan. 29—When the Hawaii basketball team goes back to the proverbial drawing board, its hope is a more aesthetic rendering than Saturday night's 72-69 victory over Cal State Bakersfield in SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center.
When the Hawaii basketball team goes back to the proverbial drawing board, its hope is a more aesthetic rendering than Saturday night's 72-69 victory over Cal State Bakersfield in SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center.
A crowd of 4, 417 saw the Rainbow Warriors construct a 45-28 lead at the intermission, then hold on against the short-handed Roadrunners. The'Bows shot 31.6 % in the second half, including missing all 11 3-point attempts.
"Thankful for our fans, who were awesome tonight, " UH coach Eran Ganot said. "They were consistent. We weren't. We've got to bring it for them. I see great potential in this group. These are moments, too, not just when we're behind but when we're up. There's a lot of work for us to do."
Kamaka Hepa and JoVon McClanahan each scored 17 points for the'Bows, who improved to 16-6 overall and 7-3 in the Big West.
But the Roadrunners, who trailed by as many as 18, closed to 54-50 on Cameron Smith's jumper with 6 :51 to play.
"We had a bad start, " CSUB coach Rob Barnes said. "I thought our guys came out a little flat, and they came out and shot the ball (in the first half ), and jumped on us real quick. They made some shots early, and they made some 3s, so we got discouraged about that. Once we got settled, our guys responded well."
After Smith's basket, UH sixth man Beon Riley drove past Antavion Collum for a layup while drawing a foul. Riley's free throw completed the three-point play with 6 :34 to play. UH center Bernardo da Silva then scored off a pirouette to extend the'Bows' lead to 59-50 with 5 :48 to play.
There were 10 fouls called in the final 1 :35 as the Roadrunners tried to cut the deficit.
UH's Noel Coleman hit one of two free throws with 3.5 seconds left to give UH an insurmountable 72-66 lead.
CSUB's Travis Henson's basket as the horn sounded was the only made 3 of the second half for either team.
Despite the outcome, Ganot expressed disappointment that the'Bows could not piece together two strong halves for the second consecutive game.
"Just call it what it is—we were brutal, " Ganot said of UH's second half after opening the game with an 11-0 run. "We were fortunate to be up big in the first half. This has happened twice (in three nights ). We have to continue to work to get to 40 minutes so we can be better. But we were brutal in the second half."
In the second half, Ganot acknowledged, the'Bows had good shots "that didn't fall. We had good shots for our best shooters."
But Ganot said the'Bows were inconsistent in other areas.
"The defense went away, " Ganot said, referencing the Roadrunners' 52 % accuracy in the second half in which they scored 41 points. "The hustle, the scrap, the focus ... we've got to grow. You hope when you played Northridge (on Jan. 16 ) and that happened it would prepare us for this moment. It didn't. So we have some more work to do."
Hepa and da Silva each exited after picking up their fifth fouls late in the second half. "We shouldn't even let the refs be in the game, in general, " Hepa said when asked about the touch fouls. "That's the best way to look at it. I felt frustrated, but that's really kind of pointless out there, like I'm wasting my time and my energy focusing on them. They shouldn't even be a factor in the game because of how good we can play as a team. It's definitely frustrating, but we've got to be better personally for ourselves."
The Roadrunners were without their top two point guards and two post players because of injuries. They had only eight available players.
"I thought our guys stepped up, " Barnes said. "We challenged them to step up. Until we get guys back, it is what it is. I'm proud of our guys."
The Roadrunners, who suffered their fourth consecutive loss, fell to 6-15 overall and 2-8 in the Big West.