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.