Hawaii’s road to a Big West Conference regular-season title hit a major speed bump tonight.
UC Riverside rolled into the Stan Sheriff Center and escaped with a 77-71 victory, snapping the Rainbow Warriors’ six-game winning streak.
UH dropped to 22-4 overall and 11-2 in the Big West Conference. It still holds sole possession of first place heading into Saturday’s sold-out senior night against Cal State Northridge.
The Highlanders (14-15, 5-8) snapped their own four-game losing streak behind 20 points from Jaylen Bland, 19 from Secean Johnson and 18 from DJ Sylvester.
The hotly contested game saw the teams jawing at each other several times throughout, especially in the second half. A handful of technical fouls were assessed.
UH trailed by four at halftime and spent most of the second half attempting a comeback. The Rainbows rallied to take the lead 67-65, then 69-68, for the last time.
UCR connected on free throws to close it out — 27-for-32 as a team, 84.4 percent.
Aaron Valdes led UH with 23 points on 8-for-17 shooting, including a career-high five 3-pointers made.