The Hawaii basketball team got pounded in the paint and remained winless at Long Beach State as a Big West member with an 89-81 defeat to the 49ers in both teams’ conference opener today.
UH (9-5, 0-1 BWC) dropped to 0-2 on the mainland this season after allowing LBSU (7-10, 1-0) to compile a 50-36 paint scoring advantage. UH dropped to 0-6 at the Walter Pyramid in BWC play, and 1-10 all-time at LBSU.
LBSU shot 65.5 percent in the first half to claim an eight-point halftime advantage, and 63.3 percent for the game. The hosts led by 14 in the second half before the Rainbow Warriors rallied to within four in the final minute, but UH could not complete the comeback.
Guard Brocke Stepteau scored a career-high 19 points on 7-for-12 shooting but committed five turnovers. Sheriff Drammeh added 15 points, Drew Buggs had 14 points and five assists, and Mike Thomas scored 10.
Four players scored 18 or more for The Beach. Barry Ogalue tied his career high of 21 points on 9-for-10 shooting, and Gabe Levin, Temidayo Yussuf and Deishuan Booker scored 18 apiece.
UH shot 8-for-15 on 3s in the first half, but did not attempt a free throw in the period. It finished shooting 11-for-27 (40.7 percent) from long range and 8-for-11 (72.7 percent) at the line.
LBSU missed its second-leading scorer, guard Bryan Alberts, with a knee injury. But it converted 15 of its first 21 shots to claim a 34-27 lead late in the first half.
The 49ers continued to pound it inside (32-12 in the paint) and score off of turnovers (13-3) in the period, taking a 10-point lead until Stepteau snuck in a reverse layup to beat the halftime horn and make it 46-38.
Drammeh took a charge on Yussuf early in the second half, and the Beach big man was assessed a technical foul after the play, his fourth personal. He sat with 16 points on 5-for-7 shooting.
UH could not capitalize on the absence of Yussuf and Levin, as Booker went backdoor for a layup and an 11-point lead with 14:25 remaining.
Brandon Thomas’ 3 with 9:15 left, UH’s 10th, cut it to 65-57.
Zigmars Raimo’s layup with under seven minutes left made it an eight-point game, but Ogalue scored on the block then hit Levin for a dunk in transition for a 76-64 lead.
Buggs scored inside, plus the foul, then stole it in the open court for a layup to bring UH back within eight. His steal and score with two minutes left brought his team within 80-74 and forced a LBSU timeout.
Yussuf and Stepteau traded baskets. Raimo got a steal, but Jack Purchase was off on a 3 that would’ve cut it to three with a minute left.
Levin went 1-for-2 at the line and Stepteau hit a 3 to bring UH within four with 40 seconds left. But Booker made two at the line and Buggs turned it over out of bounds.
UH continues its two-game road trip at Cal State Northridge (3-11, 0-0) on Saturday.