The University of Hawaii basketball team ran out of time—and offensive ammunition—in Saturday’s 81-74 overtime loss to UC Santa Barbara in SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center.
The amplified artificial “crowd ” in the fan-less arena was at full volume as the Rainbow Warriors surged from a 15-point deficit in the second half to force the extra stanza.
But the Gauchos scored 13 of the first 18 points of the extra period to seize control.
“I feel for our guys right now, ” UH coach Eran Ganot said. “I feel horrible about the loss.”
In sweeping this two-game series, the Gauchos claimed their 10th in a row while maintaining their lead in the Big West standings. The Gauchos are 14-3 overall and 8-2 in league play. The’Bows fell to 7-7 and 5-7.
It appeared the Gauchos were ready to shift to cruise control after forcing three UH turnovers in the first minute of the second half and then using an active inside attack to build a 46-31 lead with 15 :20 to play.
But the’Bows, who committed 14 turnovers in the first 21 minutes, had only four more giveaways the rest of the way. They also were able to find their aim (51.9 % shooting after the intermission ) and draw fouls.
“It was fight or flight, ” said UH forward Casdon Jardine, who scored a game-high 25 points, grabbed six rebounds, and induced eight UCSB fouls. “We decided to fight. We’re not a team that’s just going to go down and take a loss.”
The’Bows closed to 60-57 when Jardine hit one of two free throws with 2 minutes to play in regulation.
Soon after, UCSB’s Destin Barnes was fouled, but he missed the one-and-one free throw. UH grabbed the rebound, pushed the ball up court and fed Junior Madut at the top of the key. Sensing both teams were in need of a break, Ganot opted not to call a timeout. Madut then drained a 3 to tie it at 60 with 1 :53 left in regulation.
UCSB guard JaQuori McLaughlin then was fouled. But McClaughlin, who entered the series successful on 91.7 % of his free throws, also missed the one-and-one.
On the ensuing UH possession, Jardine drove the right lane and put up 3-foot banker to make it 62-60 with 1 :01 left.
The Gauchos tied it when Miles Norris slipped away from a defender and dunked with 34.4 seconds remaining.
The’Bows failed to take the lead when Madut’s shot from the left corner failed to touch the rim as the shot clock illuminated. Madut did manage to steal the ball at half-court, but his desperation heave was off the mark, forcing overtime.
The Gauchos struck first in the extra period, with McLaughlin sinking a 3 from the right wing.
After Jardine’s jumper off a spin move lipped out, Norris was fouled. Norris’ two free throws made it 67-62 with 3 :46 to play.
“We had a minute-and-a-half stretch at the start of overtime that put us in a hole, ” Jardine said. “It was tough to climb out in a short time.”
While the’Bows managed to hit 15 of 22 free throws after the first half, Ganot said, “it’s misleading because we missed some front ends. I’m glad we got to the free-throw line.”
For the second night in a row, the Gauchos controlled the low post, scoring 46 points in the paint. UH had 24 paint points.
“We didn’t finish around the rim in both games, ” Ganot said, “and we left a lot of points at the free-throw line.”
Three long road trips in a span of three weekends finally caught up with Hawaii on Saturday.
Host UC Santa Barbara exploded with a 27-8 third-quarter run to overwhelm the Rainbow Wahine 72-50, earning a split of their two-game series at the UCSB Events Center, also known as The Thunderdome.
Doris Jones pumped in 23 points and grabbed six rebounds to lead UCSB (3-12 ), which ended a six-game losing streak and improved to 3-8 in Big West Conference play. Alyssa Marin added 12 points and Taylor Mole hauled in a game-high 11 rebounds.
Freshman Daejah Phillips led Hawaii (5-6, 4-5 BWC ) with 16 points. Kasey Neubert and Alicja Falkowska had eight points each.
During the three road ventures, Hawaii went 2-3, racking up 7,644 air miles total.
Hawaii’s home series with Cal State Northridge next weekend has been canceled. UH will travel to Long Beach State for games on Feb. 26 and 27. By the time the Rainbow Wahine host UC Davis in a season-ending series on March 5-6, they will have gone 41 days without a home game.
On Friday, sophomore Kasey Neubert and freshman Daejah Phillips scored 19 points each as Hawaii rallied from an eight-point halftime deficit for a 72-62 win.
Freshman Kelsie Imai, a former Waiakea High standout, notched a career-high 10 assists, adding four points and six rebounds.