Hawaii came up short in another key Big West home matchup.
UC Santa Barbara came up with the big shots in the second half to claim a 75-64 victory tonight at the Stan Sheriff Center. The Gauchos (15-6, 6-2 Big West) remained tied for first in the conference, while UH (15-7, 4-4) shot a season-worst 38.6 percent and fell to the middle of the pack at the league’s halfway point with its second defeat during its current four-game homestand.
UH couldn’t buy a 3-pointer most of the night (3-for-18), while the Gauchos came up clutch from deep to put the game away. Michael Bryson’s third triple with 1:21 left sent the crowd of less than 5,000 to the exits with the visitors up by a dozen.
UCSB center Alan Williams was dominant inside and finished with 20 points, 17 rebounds and five blocks. Bryson added 18 points and guard Taran Brown chipped in 13.
UH forwards Isaac Fotu and Christian Standhardinger combined for 32 points and 17 rebounds in the loss. Brandon Spearman added 11, but no other Rainbows player scored more than seven.
UH took a three-point lead into halftime, but UCSB drew even with a 3-pointer to open the second half. The teams swapped the lead eight times in the first five minutes of the period.
The Gauchos built a little momentum at 51-46 when Williams earned deep post position and scored off the glass with a little over 13 minutes to play.
Williams swatted Standhardinger off the glass to ignite a fast-break layup, then converted two at the line with 12:22 to play for an 8-0 run and a nine-point lead.
UH responded with a fast-break lob layup from Keith Shamburger to Spearman. Coming out of a timeout, Spearman hit two free throws to cut the lead to three, then took a charge at the other end.
The Rainbows’ momentum played out, though, and UCSB built its lead back up to 62-54 on a Brown 3-pointer with 6:43 to play.
UH could have made it a four-point game withs six minutes to go, but a five-on-one fast break went unfulfilled when backup guard Quincy Smith sailed a lob pass too high out of bounds, prompting an irate Gib Arnold to call timeout.
Shamburger got a steal and fed it to Davis Rozitis on the break. The backup center hit one of two at the line to cut it to five.
Shamburger had a pull-up 3-point loo to cut to cut it to two, but he was short, and Spearman turned it over out of bounds on UH’s next trip down.
Zalmico Harmon and Michael Bryson made UH pay for its missed opportunities. The UCSB guards hit 3-pointers at the end of the shot clock on consecutive Gauchos possessions for a 68-59 with three minutes left.
Spearman was handed a technical foul for flailing and making contact against Kyle Boswell on a held ball. The Gauchos missed the foul shots, but the outcome was all but decided.
UH freshman Dyrbe Enos hit a 3 with 55.6 seconds left to make it 73-64, but that was all UH could muster.
UCSB played some four-out, one-in ball with Williams the focal point. UH countered by trying to front the 6-foot-7, 280-pound Williams in the post alternating between Fotu and Standhardinger.
Williams had 12 points at halftime on 4-for-9 shooting. Fotu was similarly held in check in the half with eight points on 4-for-10 shooting.
Point guard Keith Shamburger returned to the starting lineup after being benched for the first half of last Saturday’s win over Cal State Northridge. He shot 1-for-5 in the first half and exited the game just moments in the second half after taking a hit. He would return soon thereafter.
UH took a 26-19 lead, but Michael Bryson scored six straight puts to narrow the gap. UCSB tied it up at 31 on a take by Williams.
But Standhardinger responded with a drive and a putback and UH carried a 37-34 lead into the break when Garrett Nevels’ runner from 40 feet caromed off the glass.