Shorthanded Hawaii ran out of steam and got steamrolled 75-60 at UC Irvine’s Bren Events Center on Thursday night.
UH (18-10, 6-6 Big West) led for most of the first half but lost the lead at the outset of the second half, then fell behind by double digits and was unable to respond. The Rainbow Warriors dropped into a fifth-place tie with Cal Poly and UC Riverside, which both won on Thursday.
A career night of 18 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks (all season bests) for sophomore forward Stefan Jankovic was not enough for the Rainbows. It was his first career double-double. Swingman Negus Webster-Chan added 16 points on 4-for-6 shooting from long range, but no other UH player scored more than eight.
UH was held to 30.8 percent shooting to 46.7 percent for UCI, which completed a home-and-home season sweep of UH.
UCI forward Will Davis II led the Anteaters with 23 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks. He threw down consecutive dunks in the final few minutes as the exclamation point on the comeback victory.
The second-place Anteaters (15-10, 8-3) rallied from a seven-point first-half deficit and took their first lead of the game at the outset of the second half with an 11-0 run bridging the periods.
UCI guard Travis Souza connected four times from long range in the second half to keep the Anteaters ahead. His fifth 3 of the game made it 51-44 with under 12 minutes to play.
UH went cold from there, while UCI finished shooting 10-for-18 on 3-pointers.
UH rotation players Aaron Valdes, Mike Thomas and Isaac Fleming were recovering from ankle injuries heading into the game. Valdes started and Thomas appeared off the bench, but Fleming did not play. Valdes scored eight in returning from his first missed game of the season. Thomas was limited to eight minutes and scored two points.
Point guard Roderick Bobbitt was ineffective, shooting 0-for-5 from the field with just two assists. Shooting guard Garrett Nevels shot 1-for-12.
UCI was down several key players of its own, with big men Mamadou Ndiaye and John Ryan and point guard Alex Young all out with foot injuries.
The Rainbows committed only seven turnovers, but forced just seven of their own after getting the Anteaters to cough it up 17 times in a 78-72 UCI win at the Stan Sheriff Center last month.
UH jumped out to a 9-2 advantage and maintained the lead for most of the half. But UCI closed the period on a 7-0 run and tied it up at 29 at the break.
Webster-Chan had 10 points in the period, while Jankovic had nine points and eight rebounds.
UH continues play on the road at league leader UC Davis (20-4, 10-1) on Saturday.