The Hawaii men’s basketball team lost a key player to injury, then lost its lead and ultimately the game, 80-71, vs. Pacific in Stockton, Calif., today.
Starting shooting guard Brandon Spearman went down with what looked to be a severe ankle injury just before halftime — when UH carried a three-point lead — and did not return after being carried off the court.
Spearman entered the contest as the team’s third-leading scorer at 9.8 points per game.
Pacific (15-10, 9-4) improved to 7-0 at the Spanos Center in Big West play and claimed sole possession of second place in the league over UH (15-11, 9-6), which dropped into a virtual tie for third in going 0-2 on its road trip. The Rainbow Warriors were blown out by 24 at UC Davis on Thursday.
Junior forward Christian Standhardinger had 20 points and nine rebounds to lead the Rainbow Warriors. Freshman Isaac Fotu added 12 points and senior Vander Joaquim scored 10. Point guard Jace Tavita had nine points, eight assists and no turnovers.
UH went up by five to open the second half, but UOP went on a 15-0 run as the Rainbow Warriors made one of their first 13 shots of the period and went scoreless for nearly six minutes.
Tavita hit a 3 to make it 54-46 with eight minutes remaining.
Standhardinger was fouled on a 3 with 5:47 left and made two of three foul shots to bring UH within 61-54. That would be as close as it would get, though.
UOP shot 51 percent in earining a season split with UH; it avenged a 60-52 ‘Bows win in Honolulu last month. Point guard Lorenzo McCloud had a monster game with 20 points, 12 rebounds and five assists. Travis Fulton scored a game-high 23 for the Tigers.
Hawaii does not play another Big West game until UC Santa Barbara travels to Honolulu for a Feb. 28 game. League play is interrupted next Saturday for a BracketBusters game vs. Northern Arizona at the Stan Sheriff Center.
UH took its first lead at 10-9 on a basket by Standhardinger. The teams traded the lead a few times before the ‘Bows maintained a small lead. The largest margin was 28-23 before Pacific came back to tie it at 30.
Spearman went down with 1.8 seconds left in the half, mere seconds after he hit a 3-pointer to give his team a 36-32 lead. He finished with six points on 2-for-3 shooting.
He landed awkwardly while defending a drive by McCloud.