The Hawaii men’s basketball team could not overcome a sluggish performance and lost 56-54 at UC Santa Barbara today on an Alex Hart tip-in with two seconds left.
Gibson Johnson had his first career double-double, 16 points and 10 rebounds, but UH (12-13, 6-6 Big West) was otherwise ineffective in shooting 36 percent with 16 turnovers. The Rainbow Warriors’ bid at a third straight road win was denied by the last-place Gauchos (4-20, 2-10), who snapped an eight-game losing streak.
Noah Allen, who shot 11-for-14 for a career-high 34 points in a 22-point UH win over UCSB on Jan. 28, was held to six points on 2-for-11 shooting in the rematch. Leland Green (seven points) returned from a three-game illness absence but starters Brocke Stepteau (six points) and Jack Purchase (zero) were saddled with foul trouble.
UH still had multiple attempts at retaking the lead in the second half but could never do so. Hart’s game-winning putback came straightaway off the glass after an errant 3-point attempt by Clifton Powell. Hart scored 16 points for a team that was down three starters for the season because of injury and academic ineligibility.
After two timeouts, UH’s drawn-up play was disrupted as they passed the ball near midcourt and the ’Bows didn’t get a shot off before the buzzer.
Both teams got off to a slow start offensively. After UH led narrowly in the opening minutes, UCSB rallied and led by six at intermission. UH shot 36 percent in the period with nine turnovers.
Johnson spurred UH to open the second half. He assisted on a layup to Zigmars Raimo — who started the second half for foul-troubled Purchase — then got to the line the next time down and used two free throws to bring his team within 33-30.
Stepteau picked up his third foul on an and-1 opportunity by Hart with 14:36 left, forcing the point guard out of the game. But Johnson hustled for a putback to keep UH within two.
Green scored in transition but missed the and-1 and the game was knotted at 37 with 13:09 to go.
UCSB scored the next six points, a spurt ended by Johnson’s free throws to trim it to 43-39. Sam Walters answered with a long 3 with 9:29 left. Hart scored on a high-low pass on UCSB’s next possession to extend the lead to its largest at nine.
Johnson made a layup and Stepteau added a 3. After UCSB scored inside, Drammeh added another 3 to get within 50-47.
Green’s corner 3-pointer to tie with 2:40 remaining was short, but UH got the ball back out of bounds and Allen made two 1-and-1 free throws to make it a one-point game.
UH got a stop but turned it over on its next trip down. Hart glided in for a layup on a pass from Eric Childress to make it 54-51 with 1:37 left.
After a UH timeout, Green drained a 3 to tie it at 54 and UCSB turned it over. But Green’s next attempt was off and a jump ball gave the Gauchos the ball back with 32 seconds to go.