Hawaii built a huge lead early and withstood a furious second-half rally by visiting Long Beach State’s to win a men’s basketball game 94-73 on Thursday at the Stan Sheriff Center.
The Rainbow Warriors won their fourth consecutive Big West game and the 49ers lost for the first time after eight straight conference wins. Third-place UH (14-9, 8-4) closed in on first-place LBSU (13-9, 9-2). Second-place Pacific (13-9, 7-3) lost to Cal Poly on Thursday.
UH led 53-20 at halftime, but the 49ers came out with a fullcourt press after intermission, forcing Hawaii into multiple turnovers and cutting the lead to 14 points with 11 minutes left in the game.
The Warriors finally stabilized, and Brandon Spearman’s three-point play gave them an 80-63 lead with 6:16 left.
UH used first-half runs of 14-0, 14-1, and 12-0 to go up 41-13. Vander Joaquim’s falling 15-footer at the buzzer gave it the 33-point hafltime lead.
“That’s the first time we’ve ever seen that (big of a halftime lead),” Hawaii coach Gib Arnold said. “How we came out was huge.”
UH shot 59 percent from the floor in the first half, including 7-of-12 on 3-pointers.
Hawaii’s Hauns Brereton was game-high with 21 points. Christian Standhardinger had 20 points, Joaquim added 18, Brandon Spearman scored 16 and Brandon Jawato 12.
UH outrebounded LBSU 46-21 with Standhardinger grabbing 13 and Isaac Fotu 10.
Jawato scored all of his points in nine first-half minutes. He played just one minute in the second half due to leg cramps.
Tony Freeland led LBSU with 18 points. Keala King had 14, all in the second half.
UH had just five turnovers in the first half, but 23 for the game as the 49ers press helped generate 19 steals.
“They did exactly what you need to get back in,” Arnold said. “But give our guys credit. They battled.
“I knew we weren’t going to win by 64. It didn’t shock me or surprise me at all that they came back.”