Hawaii picked up its first senior night win in three years and earned its first 20-win season in a decade with a thrilling 81-77 win over Cal State Fullerton on Saturday at the Stan Sheriff Center.
Point guard Keith Shamburger helped secure the win by going 12-for-14 at the free-throw line in the final minutes, including two with 4.1 seconds left for a four-point lead to ice the victory.
A “White-out” crowd of about 7,500 helped send off seniors Christian Standhardinger, Brandon Spearman and Davis Rozitis as winners in their final game at the Sheriff.
Five players scored in double figures for the Rainbow Warriors (20-10, 9-7 Big West), who earned their first 20-win season for the first time since 2003-04. Standhardinger had 17 points and 15 rebounds, Isaac Fotu scored 18 on 8-for-11 shooting, Shamburger scored all of his 14 points on free throws, Garrett Nevels came off the bench for the first time this season to score 14 and Spearman added 13 with five rebounds.
UH, the No. 4 seed in next week’s Big West tournament, went on an 10-2 run to answer Fullerton’s only lead of the second half (65-64) and held off the Titans through the tense final minutes.
UH saw a 13-point lead evaporate as the Titans tied the game at 56 on a fast-break dunk by Marquis Horne at the midpoint of the second half.
The ‘Bows staunched the bleeding there, temporarily. The Titans took their first lead of the second half on a corner 3-pointer by Alex Harris with 4:27 to play.
UH took the lead back on two free throws by Standhardinger to make it 66-65 and capitalized on a CSF turnover to get a Fotu basket inside to go up three with three minutes left.
Shamburger connected on six straight free throws for a 74-67 advantage with 1:18 remaining.
The Titans drew within 75-72 on a possession in which it got four 3-point attempts, finally making the last by Josh Gentry.
Gentry hit a deep to to keep it a three-point game. Spearman made one of two, but Michael Williams connected on a pull-up 3 with 16.8 seconds left to make it 78-77.
CSF fouled Shamburger one more time and he made one of two for a two-point lead with 14.9 seconds left.
Well before the buzzer, CSF guard Michael Williams put up an off-balance runner from about 35 feet that was off the mark and UH forced a jump ball on the rebound, gaining possession.
Shamburger went to the line one more time and made both.
CSF’s high-scoring backcourt of Michael Williams and Alex Harris combined for 29 points in the loss. Marquis Horne scored a team-high 18 and Gentry added 17.
UH earned the home-and-home sweep on CSF; it won 83-80 at Titan Gym on Feb. 15.
UH used a 10-0 run late in the first half to take a 44-35 lead at the break.