Hawaii spoiled Cal State Fullerton’s homecoming night for the second straight season with an 83-80 victory on Saturday night, giving the Rainbow Warriors their first four-game conference road winning streak in program history.
UH (18-7, 7-4 Big West) rallied from eight points down with 8:37 to play in front of a packed house at 4,000-seat Titan Gym. The ‘Bows got big buckets down the stretch from sophomore forward Isaac Fotu (24 points) and guard Garrett Nevels to pull out the victory.
Nevels (12 points) sank a cold-blooded corner 3-pointer with a minute left for an 81-78 lead.
Fullerton had a chance to take the lead at the line, but missed two foul shots. Nevels grabbed the rebound, was fouled, and made good on his free-throw attempts with 16.5 seconds left for a three-point lead.
It was part of a season-best 24-for-26 (92.3 percent) effort at the line for the ‘Bows, who also shot 50 percent from the field.
Titans guard Alex Harris scored a game-high 29 points and had a 3-point attempt to tie coming out of a timeout, but he was off the mark and UH grabbed the rebound at the buzzer.
The last time UH won four straight road games was in the “Fab Five” era of 1971-72, but that was before the program belonged to a conference.
UH’s starting five each scored in double figures. Brandon Spearman had 14 points, Christian Standhardinger added 10 points and nine rebounds and point guard Keith Shamburger had 11 points and nine assists against just one turnover. Fotu went 10-for-10 at the free-throw line.
Both teams shot lights-out in the first half, but the game became a grind early in the second period when Fullerton (8-16, 3-7) established its lead.
Fotu converted a three-point play and Brandon Spearman had a basket counted on a goaltending call to get the ‘Bows within 65-62 with eight minutes remaining.
Davis Rozitis threw down a dunk on a pass from Quincy Smith to make it a one-point game.
Fotu tied it up at 68 on a fadeaway from the left elbow, then again at 70 on two free throws.
Christian Standhardinger put the ‘Bows back up 72-70 with 4:34 to go and gave his team a four-point lead with a close-range banker with under four minutes to play.
Standhardinger lost the ball in the open court to Harris, and the guard made two free throws to cut it to 76-74.
Quincy Smith answered with two foul shots with 2:13 left. Harris drove and drew another foul and made both, then stole the ball from Smith and jammed it to tie the game at 78 with 1:30 to play.
After Nevels’ big 3, Harris sank two more at the line to cut UH’s lead to 81-80 with 55.3 seconds left.
CSF shot 62 percent in the first half in taking a 46-42 halftime lead.