Shorthanded Hawaii put up a valiant effort but waned late in a 74-67 defeat at UC Davis on Saturday night.
An untimely late scoring drought of over five minutes and some turnovers did in the Rainbow Warriors (18-11, 6-7 Big West), who went 0-2 on their road trip this week. It was the first time all season UH dropped consecutive games; it was previously 9-0 coming off a loss.
League-leading UC Davis (21-4, 11-1) avenged its only conference loss of the season, an eight-point defeat to UH at the Stan Sheriff Center on Jan. 22.
UH dropped into a tie for sixth place with three regular-season games remaining.
The Rainbow Warriors were without rotation players Aaron Valdes, Mike Thomas and Isaac Fleming. All three are dealing with ankle sprains, while Valdes was said to have had flu-like symptoms at team shootaround earlier Saturday.
UH still had its chances in a game of wild momentum swings. Forward Stefan Jankovic scored a season high for the second straight game — 21 points on 6-for-11 shooting.
But Davis reserve guard Tyler Les enjoyed a career night, shooting 9-for-13 on 3-pointers for a personal-best 28 points. It made up for a poor night from the Big West’s leading scorer, Corey Hawkins, who went 1-for-8 for six points.
UH shot 60.9 percent in the first half and rallied from an early 13-point deficit to take a three-point halftime lead.
Garrett Nevels, who came off the bench, hit a 3 to cap an 8-0 run for a 51-41 lead with 17 minutes to play. Nevels had 19 points on 7-for-12 shooting after going 1-for-12 in a 15-point loss at UC Irvine on Thursday.
Davis responded with 10 straight points, including Les’ sixth and seventh 3-pointers of the game.
At that point, UH point guard Roderick Bobbitt picked up his fourth foul and had to hit the bench.
But seldom-used reserve guard Dyrbe Enos came in and hit the biggest shot of his UH career, a corner 3-pointer for a 61-55 UH lead.
Davis came right back to tie it at 61, then retake the lead on Les’ ninth 3 during an 11-0 run.
UH center Stefan Jovanovic ended the run with two free throws with 3:06 left, making it 66-63 Davis. But the ‘Bows did not execute late, going 2-for-12 from the field to end the game.
UH shot 32.1 percent in the second half and finished with 20 turnovers.
Hawkins did not score until he hit a free throw with 6:44 left in the first half. But Les made up for it and then some, hitting his first five 3-point attempts for 15 points.
Les’ fifth 3 made it 28-15 for the hosts with 7:27 left in the half, but UH outscored Davis 24-8 the rest of the period thanks to Jankovic, Nevels and Bobbitt.
Jankovic had 12 points in the period, while Nevels added nine.
UH continues play at home against Long Beach State on Thursday.