The Hawaii Rainbow Warriors continue to refuse to lose two in a row.
UH posted its first win at Cal Poly in four tries to date by outlasting the host Mustangs, 59-56, at the Mott Athletics Center in San Luis Obispo, Calif., on Thursday night. The Rainbow Warriors moved into sole possession of fourth place in the Big West Conference.
The Rainbows got a career-high 18 points from forward Mike Thomas and improved to 8-0 coming off a loss this season. UH (16-8, 4-4 Big West) has alternated wins and losses every game of the conference schedule thus far.
Coach Benjy Taylor’s group improved to 2-1 on its four-game road trip wrapping up at UC Santa Barbara on Saturday, while avenging a 61-57 overtime loss to Cal Poly at home in early January.
Point guard Roderick Bobbitt made one of two free throws for a three-point lead with 15 seconds to play. Mustangs ballhandler Ridge Shipley dribbled up but could not get a clean look at the hoop on a tying 3. He went to a step-back shot and it caromed off the iron at the buzzer.
Cal Poly (10-11, 3-6) shot an abysmal 28.3 percent from the field to 49 percent for UH, but the Mustangs’ 3-point shooting kept them in the game. They were 11 of 23 (47.8 percent) from long range, compared to two of 13 (15.4 percent) for UH.
However, UH forced 15 turnovers on the team that came in ranked second nationally in fewest giveaways per game at 8.5. Cal Poly shot a stunning 4-for-30 (13.3 percent) inside the arc.
Thomas, a sophomore, got his first start in five games and shot 6-for-7 from the field and 6-for-10 from the line in surpassing his previous UH best of 14 points, achieved twice this season. He added three blocked shots.
Aaron Valdes, Isaac Fleming and Stefan Jovanovic scored eight points apiece for Hawaii.
UH scored the first seven points of the game, but trailed by two at halftime.
The Rainbows scored the first four points of the second half to go back up.
Thomas scored consecutive baskets for a 36-33 UH lead with under 14 minutes to play. Jovanovic followed with a hook shot for a five-point lead.
Poly guard Reese Morgan tied it up at 38 with a 3-pointer.
Garrett Nevels responded with consecutive 3s, UH’s first of the game, for a 44-42 lead with 8:34 to play.
Jovanovic put in another jump hook for a 50-47 lead with six minutes remaining.
Negus Webster-Chan had a tip-in of a missed 3 by Valdes and Bobbitt slipped through for a layup to keep the Rainbows ahead narrowly.
Valdes sliced in for a score for a 56-53 lead with 1:51 to play.
Webster-Chan fouled Michael Bolden on a 3-point attempt with 1:26 to play. Bolden made two of three to cut it to a one-point game.
Bobbitt drove for a layup with a minute left to extend the lead back to 58-55.
Shipley went for a scoop layup, and the rebound carried out of bounds. Officials looked at replay monitors and awarded the ball back to Poly with 45 seconds left.
Joel Awich airballed a 3 on the inbounds pass, but Shipley stole the ball from Bobbitt and called timeout with 33 seconds to go.
Awich was fouled on a drive and made one of two with 21 seconds left to cut it to 58-56. Valdes was fouled on the rebound and earned a 1-and-1 trip to the line with 19 seconds to go.
Valdes missed the front end, but the ball got loose on the rebound and Shipley fouled Bobbitt. Bobbitt made one of two for a three-point lead and UH held on for the win.
Morgan led Cal Poly with 16 points, while Shipley added 12 points and six assists. Awich had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Cal Poly made just one 2-point field goal in the first half, but still led 28-26 at the break by the virtue of 7-for-14 shooting on 3-pointers, compared to 0-for-6 for UH.
Thomas scored 10 in the first period.