After opening a four-game homestand with a loss on Thursday, the University of Hawaii basketball team altered its lineup and bounced back with a 77-63 win over Cal State Northridge tonight at the Stan Sheriff Center.
UH forward Isaac Fotu led the Rainbow Warriors with 20 points and eight rebounds and Brandon Spearman and Garrett Nevels finished with 15 points each as UH improved to 15-6 overall and 4-3 in Big West play.
With the win, UH kept pace with the conference leaders, remaining one game behind UC Santa Barbara, UC Irvine and Long Beach State.
Cal State Northridge fell to 11-12 and 3-5.
Quincy Smith made his first start of the season at point guard, the first change in UH’s starting five in 17 games. Keith Shamburger, who’d started all 20 games at the point, spent the entire first half on the end of the UH bench. After the game, UH head coach Gib Arnold characterized the lineup change as a “coach’s decision.”
Hawaii, the highest scoring team in the Big West, missed its first nine shots from the field while Cal State Northridge built an 11-2 lead. Spearman finally broke the drought with a putback off UH’s ninth miss 5 minutes, 32 seconds into the first half.
That bucket sent the Rainbows on a 12-2 run during which UH went 5-for-7 from the field and took its first lead on a Nevels 3-pointer.
The lead changed hands eight more times before UH went up 32-29 when Fotu scored in the post while drawing a foul and completed the three-point play.
UH took a 32-30 lead into halftime led by Nevels’ 10 points.
Shamburger drew a cheer from the crowd when he checked into the game at the 17:30 mark of the second half with UH leading 37-36.
Christian Standhardinger, UH’s leading scorer at 18.2 points per game, had been held scoreless until he got a shot in the post to fall with 10:08 left in the second half, giving UH a 53-49 lead.
The Rainbows stretched the gap to 60-51 when Spearman drove hard for a two-handed dunk then drained a 3-pointer on UH’s next possession, forcing CSUN to call timeout with 8:40 left.
Shamburger, the reigning Big West player of the week, contributed his first points when he scored on a drive into the lane to beat the shot clock while drawing a foul. His free throw pushed the UH lead to 67-57 with 5:09 left.
Shamburger and Smith both finished with seven points and UH committed a season-low six turnovers. Shamburger also had four assists in 16 minutes of playing time.
UH outrebounded CSUN 45-35 and grabbed 22 offensive rebounds, leading to a 21-11 edge in second-chance points.
After Long Beach State shot 60 percent from the field in a win over UH on Thursday, CSUN shot 43 percent tonight. But the Matadors went just 10-for-27 (37 percent) in the second half while UH made 17 of 35 attempts after the break.
“We just didn’t knock down shots. I think we shot 40 percent for the game but we played great D and they weren’t knocking down shots,” Smith said.
Stephan Hicks led CSUN with 18 points on 8-for-13 shooting and Josh Greene finished with 15. CSUN also struggled from the free-throw line, making 15 of 27 attempts.
UH continues its homestand on Feb. 6 against UC Santa Barbara.