The University of Hawaii basketball team opened a new era by edging Cal State Northridge 74-71 on Saturday in the program’s first conference game as a member of the Big West.
UH forward Christian Standhardinger led the Rainbow Warriors with 17 points and UH (7-5, 1-0 BWC) survived after CSUN’s 3-pointer at the buzzer came up short.
UH freshman Isaac Fotu added 16 points and 11 rebounds. Center Vander Joaquim finished with 12 points and 11 boards.
Freshman Brandon Jawato hit three 3-pointers and contributed 12 points off the bench.
CSUN sophomore swingman Stephan Jefferson led the Matadors with a game-high 25 points and Stephen Maxwell finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Matadors (9-4, 0-1).
Cal State Northridge’s quickness in the backcourt gave the Rainbows fits in the early moments and the Matadors raced to a 13-2 lead. UH committed 10 turnovers with a little more than 10 minutes gone in the game and trailed 25-17.
The Rainbows turned it over just once more in the first half and turned the game around by outscoring the Matadors 25-3 over a span of about five minutes as the Rainbows took a 44-33 lead into halftime.
UH got off to another ragged start out of the locker room and Cal State Northridge caught and passed the Rainbows to take a 56-54 lead with 11:49 left.
UH went nearly five minutes without a score, going 0-for-5 from the field and 0-for-4 from the free-throw line, but Cal State Northridge didn’t fare much better and inched ahead to a 61-56 lead on a jumper by Hicks at the 5:33 mark.
Standhardinger alternately frustrated then thrilled the crowd by missing his fifth straight free throw before making the next and finishing UH’s next possession with a reverse layup to give UH a 64-63 lead.
UH’s struggles from the free-throw line continued and UH took a 70-69 lead when Joaquim made one of two shots from the line with 1:06 left.
UH forced a CSUN turnover and Fotu scored in the post to push the lead to 72-69. Maxwell scored on a putback with 15.7 seconds left to cut the lead to a point.
Hauns Brereton then made two free throws to give UH a three-point cushion with 9.7 seconds left and Landon Drew’s 3-pointer at the buzzer was short and the Rainbows celebrated their first Big West victory.