HONOLULU – The University of Hawai’i men’s basketball team earned a feel-good win after pulling away from Cal State Northridge, 77-63, Saturday night at the Stan Sheriff Center. The Rainbow Warriors moved to 15-6 overall and 4-3 in the Big West with their fourth win in their last five games.
Just two days after a wrenching home loss to Long Beach State, the ‘Bows got back on track with a gritty effort, breaking open a close game with a huge surge in the final 12 minutes of the game. UH avenged the one-point loss it suffered at CSUN earlier this year, while remaining just one game off the pace in the Big West race.
The Rainbow Warriors didn’t put out its best offensive performance, including just 33 percent shooting in the first half. But UH took care of the ball with a season-low six turnovers and hit the backboards hard with nearly half of their rebounds coming on the offensive end. The ‘Bows grabbed 22 offensive rebounds which helped lead to 21 second-chance points.
Isaac Fotu led the way for UH with 20 points, while also grabbing eight rebounds. Brandon Spearman added 15 points and eight rebounds, including an emphatic dunk and three-pointer that energized the UH crowd during its decisive second-half run. Garrett Nevels added 15 points and four assists, while Quincy Smith finished with seven points in his first career start for the ‘Bows.
UH looked out of sync early as CSUN (11-12, 3-5 BWC) raced out to an 11-2 lead less than four minutes in. But after missing its first nine shots of the game, the Rainbow Warriors hit five of their next seven shots to get right back in it. The teams continued to trade blows throughout the first half before the ‘Bows took a 32-30 lead into the break.
The game continued to be close in the second half and UH trailed 47-45 with a little more than 12 minutes remaining. But that’s when Hawai’i made its move, going on a game-changing 17-5 run over the next five minutes that gave them a double-digit lead. In a tight game that featured 13 lead changes, the ‘Bows would not be challenged the rest of the way. UH held the Matadors to just 37 percent shooting in the second half.
The Rainbow Warriors continue their four-game homestand next week when it faces UC Santa Barbara on Saturday, Feb. 6. Tipoff is set for 7:00 p.m.
*Courtesy of Hawai’i Athletics*