The Hawaii men’s basketball team came up empty on its first Big West Conference road trip, falling in heartbreaking fashion 76-72 at Long Beach State’s Walter Pyramid today.
UH (9-7, 3-2 Big West) had the game tied at 67 on a 3-pointer by Brandon Jawato with 3:19 to play. Jawato, the Big West Player of the Week who finished with a team-high 16 points, tied it up again at 72 with his fourth 3 with just over a minute to play.
LBSU’s Dan Jennings airballed two free throws with 47 seconds left, giving UH a chance to end the 49ers’ 19-game conference home winning streak.
The Rainbow Warriors drained the shot clock down going for a winning basket, but instead turned it over out of bounds with under 14 seconds left.
LBSU point guard Mike Caffey drove the lane for the game-winning floater with 1.7 seconds left. UH was out of timeouts and heaved the ball to the other end of the court, but center Davis Rozitis was called for a personal foul and UH coach Gib Arnold was assessed his second technical foul of the game — and an ejection.
UH was given three technicals for the game.
First-place LBSU (8-8, 4-1 BWC), which was predicted to win a third straight league title in the preseason, got a game-high 18 points from Caffey and big performances from bench players Peter Pappageorge and Deng Deng. Those two combined to go 7-for-11 on 3-pointers, as the Beach made 10 from deep as a team.
UH left home 3-0 at the start of the week with hopes of remaining in first place, but the ‘Bows dropped to 0-3 on the mainland this season, including a 68-64 loss at UC Irvine on Wednesday.
Senior center Vander Joaquim added 13 points and six rebounds for UH. Going into Thursday’s home game vs. Pacific, he needs nine points to become UH’s 15th 1,000-point scorer.
Hawaii faced a seven-point halftime deficit, but cut it to 45-42 with three straight baskets by Joaquim to start the second period.
LBSU went back up by seven, but Jace Tavita nailed a 3 to make it 53-49 with 12:03 to play. LBSU’s Deng Deng hit a 3 for a 58-51 lead at the midpoint of the half. Deng followed with another trey to open up a 10-point advantage.
Jawato made a layup to make it 63-59 with 5:20 to play. He added a steal and layup to make it 67-64 with 3:39 to play. He followed with a 3-pointer to tie it at 67 with 3:19 remaining.
Joaquim dunked it with 1:49 left to make it 70-69. Caffey answered with two free throws, setting up Jawato’s final 3-pointer to tie it up for the last time.
LBSU shot 8-for-16 on 3-pointers in the first half, though just 2-for-7 from there.
LBSU scored the first six points of the game, fueled by UH turnovers. But the ‘Bows scored the next 11 points and were up 14-7 on a three-point play by Joaquim.
A 13-2 49ers run included a technical foul on Arnold.
LBSU built a 38-28 lead with over four minutes left in the period. UH got to within five, but Davis Rozitis missed two free throws and the 49ers got a layup at the other end to take a 43-36 halftime lead.
UH returns home to play Pacific on Thursday at the Stan Sheriff Center.