The Hawaii men’s basketball team stormed back from a 14-point first-half deficit to defeat UC Riverside 72-68 tonight at SRC Arena at Riverside, Calif.
A 12-2 run in the final 6:33 gave UH a 71-67 lead with a minute to play. That was the first lead of the game for UH (12-9, 6-4 Big West), which picked up its second straight road win after losing its previous four on the mainland this season.
UCR made a free throw to get within three points and got a UH turnover on the missed second shot from the line with 32 seconds to go. But the Rainbow Warriors recovered a loose ball with 16.2 seconds left.
Junior forward Christian Standhardinger had his eighth double-double of the season with 23 points and 10 rebounds. He iced the win with a make on a 1-and-1 free throw with five seconds remaining, putting the Rainbow Warriors up by four.
UH had a season-low eight turnovers and withstood a sizzling shooting night by the Highlanders (5-16, 2-7). UCR reached 60 percent shooting midway through the second half and finished at 50 percent overall and from the 3-point line (10-for-20).
Junior guard Brandon Spearman had 15 points for UH, while senior center Vander Joaquim added 14. Senior point guard Jace Tavita had eight assists against two turnovers.
The game opened up league second-round play for UH. Combined with a 76-61 Rainbow Warriors win in Honolulu on Jan. 5, the Highlanders became the first UH victim of a home-and-home sweep in the Big West.
The ‘Bows wrap up a stretch of four straight road games at Cal State Fullerton on Saturday.
UH trailed by seven at halftime. The deficit got back to 10, but Joaquim scored twice in a row to make it 43-39 with under 16 minutes to play.
Five straight UH points by Spearman made it 45-44 with 15 minutes left.
From there, though, the Highlanders heated up again. They took a 62-51 lead on their ninth 3-pointer of the game with 10 minutes to go.
UH scored the next eight, but UCR again got their 10th 3-ball to extend the lead temporarily.
Standhardinger took it to the rim to make it 65-63 UCR with five minutes to go.
UH trailed the whole game but tied it up at 67 on a basket by freshman forward Isaac Fotu with three minutes remaining.
Joaquim hit two free throws for UH’s first lead with 2:32 to play.
UCR led by as many as 14 points early. UH closed the half on a 14-7 run to narrow the gap to 39-32 at halftime.