The Hawaii basketball team made a short hop over to historic Bloch Arena, where it found itself outmatched by Seton Hall of the Big East today in the Pearl Harbor Invitational.
The Pirates pulled away down the stretch to win 68-57 on Day 1 of the two-day event.
It was Hawaii’s first game in Bloch in the all-college era of opponents, which started in the 1970s. It was at about two-thirds capacity, with 1,000-plus military personnel and some special invitees.
Brocke Stepteau came out to start the second half at point guard for Sheriff Drammeh and scored 12 of his career-high 17 points in the period, helping UH stay in it for about 35 minutes. Forward Gibson Johnson added 12 points and seven rebounds in the loss.
UH (4-4) continues play on Wednesday — the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor — at 4:30 p.m. against Princeton (2-4) of the Ivy League. Seton Hall (6-2) takes on California (7-1) at 2 p.m.
Hawaii’s leading scorer, Noah Allen, struggled to a scoreless game on 0-for-7 shooting.
Seton Hall led by eight points at halftime as UH struggled with ball control and to 25 percent shooting in the opening period.
The Pirates jumped out to a 7-0 lead when Drammeh committed turnovers on the first three Rainbow Warrior possessions.
UH briefly led 10-8 when Johnson hit his first 3 pointer of the season and followed it up with a sweeping layup.
The ’Bows just couldn’t keep a handle on the ball. Their 12 turnovers in the period — including seven at the point guard position — resulted in 18 Pirates points, accounting for more than half of Seton Hall’s scoring before halftime, when it led 33-25.
Larry Lewis Jr. drew UH to within 39-33 with 15:12 to play on a layup, steal and a free throw.
Myles Powell hit a 3 on a dish from Khadeen Carrington, but Stepteau came back with a layup, also drawing a foul. When he missed the free throw, UH got the rebound and Stepteau hit a 3 to bring UH back within six.
A Carrington 3 pushed it back to double digits for a moment, but Stepteau answered from long range again, making it 53-45 with 7:51 to play.
But Stepteau had to exit with his fourth foul. Madison Jones stole it from Drammeh and converted a three-point play to put the Pirates up by their largest to that point, 12, with 4:49 left.
Carrington (19 points) stuck a 3 off the dribble to put it away with 2:18 remaining.