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UH hoops team clutch at line in win over UCSB

    Hawaii's Hauns Brereton elevated for two during the first half of the Hawaii Warriors vs UC Santa Barbara Gauchos game held tonight at the Stan Sheriff Center.

The Hawaii men’s basketball team converted its final 15 free-throw attempts and came back from eight points down to defeat UC Santa Barbara 70-66 tonight at the Stan Sheriff Center.

UH clinched a winning overall and league records for the season at 17-11 and 10-6 in the Big West Conference. The Rainbow Warriors are in sole possession of third going into Saturday’s senior night game against Cal Poly.

Senior center Vander Joaquim went 8-for-9 at the stripe, including the last four at the game to clinch it. He had 16 points and nine rebounds.

Senior point guard Jace Tavita added a career-high 17 points and five assists.

UCSB took a 57-53 lead on an Alan Williams free throw with 3:45 to play, but Tavita came back with his fifth 3 and Isaac Fotu scored four straight for a 60-57 lead with 1:25 to go.

Tavita even added two free throws — his first attempts at the line since the Illinois game on Nov. 16 — for a five-point lead with 1:03 left.

UCSB hit 12 3-pointers in the loss. UH overcame that with 24-for-30 effort at the line (80 percent).

UH took a seven-point lead in the opening moments of the second half, but an (11-2) run got UCSB the lead at 42-40.

UCSB went up eight, but Tavita hit a big 3 to make it 51-46 with eight minutes left, followed by a post basket by Vander Joaquim.

Tavita hit his fourth 3 for a new career high to bring the ‘Bows to within 54-53 with 5:25 left, but Kyle Boswell (27 points) answered time after time.

Boswell returned from a two-game injury absence and hit his first three shots. He was fouled on 3-point attempts three times.

Big man Alan Williams, who was absent in UH’s 78-73 win at UCSB last month, had 14 points and nine rebounds.

Christian Standhardinger and Joaquim shot a combined 3-for-16 in the first half, but UH still took a 30-28 lead into the break when Brandon Jawato hit a 3-pointer with 55 seconds left.

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