The Hawaii basketball team took a step back in a tight Big West race with an 84-82 overtime loss at UC Santa Barbara tonight.
UH guard Brocke Stepteau returned from a two-game injury absence and hit a tying 3-pointer with 6.6 seconds left to send the game to the extra period, but had another tying attempt, a baseline floater, at the overtime horn blocked by Marcus Jackson to preserve the victory for the first-place Gauchos (17-5, 6-2 Big West).
Mike Thomas led UH (13-7, 4-3 BWC) in defeat with 25 points and 10 rebounds, while Stepteau added 15 points and six assists. Leland Green scored all of his 12 points in the first half and Gibson Johnson added 10. It was the Rainbow Warriors’ first loss in five overtime games under third-year coach Eran Ganot.
The Big West’s leading scorer, Gauchos guard Max Heidegger, scored 25 points and had the go-ahead 3-pointer in the extra period after Thomas scored on a finger roll. Leland King II (21 points) followed with a 3 for a four-point lead that had UH chasing the rest of the way. Jalen Canty added 21 points and 10 rebounds for the hosts at the Thunderdome.
A Thomas basket on a feed from Stepteau kept UH within two with a minute left in the extra period.
UH played the foul game and fell behind four, but Jack Purchase hit a deep 3 to bring his team within 83-82 with nine seconds left.
King went 1-for-2 at the line, leaving UH an opportunity to tie or go ahead. UH got the ball to Stepteau along the right baseline but the 5-foot-9 guard was turned back by the 6-foot-4 Jackson.
UH, which beat UCSB (17-5, 6-2) by one in Honolulu on Jan. 13, trailed by six at halftime but rallied to take three late leads, each answered immediately by UCSB.
Purchase’s wing 3 gave UH its first lead since the opening minutes, 63-61, but Vincent came back with a three-point play.
Canty converted a hook shot with 16 seconds left in regulation for a three-point lead.
After Stepteau’s tying 3, Heidegger missed a hanging 3 off the back iron at the regulation buzzer.