The Hawaii basketball team opened its final road trip of the season with a 70-59 loss at UC Davis today.
UH (16-12, 7-8 Big West) submitted its worst first half of the season and was never able to catch up after trailing by 15 points at intermission. The Rainbow Warriors will look to pick up a win in their regular-season finale at Cal State Fullerton (17-10, 10-5) on Saturday heading into the Big West tournament.
UC Davis (20-9, 11-4) won its fourth straight game and improved to 5-2 without star forward Chima Moneke, who remained suspended for unspecified team reasons since Feb. 3. The Aggies shot 53.2 percent on their senior night (60 percent in the second half) and play at UC Irvine on Saturday for the Big West regular-season title.
Davis hit 10 of 20 3-pointers, compared to UH’s 7-for-23 effort.
Senior forward Mike Thomas exited with two quick fouls and the Rainbows struggled after a Samuta Avea layup brought UH within 12-10. Thomas came on strong in the second half and finished with a team-high 13 points on 4-for-7 shooting.
Gibson Johnson added 12 points and Jack Purchase 11, but Davis point guard T.J. Shorts II scored a game-high 21 points and shooting guard Siler Schneider scored all of his 16 points in the first half.
UH scored a season-low 21 points in the first half on 31.8 percent shooting. It trailed by a season-worst margin at the break and had 12 of its 16 turnovers by that point.
Thomas’ dunk on a feed from Brocke Stepteau brought UH within 60-49 with under seven minutes remaining. Stepteau got fouled on UH’s next trip down but missed the front end of a 1-and-1 free throw.
Purchase scored inside, plus the foul, to make it a 7-0 run and a single-digit deficit with 5:07 left. Leland Green had a reverse-layup attempt to cut it further but was off the mark.
Shorts ended the spurt with two free throws, followed by a steal and a reverse layup. Purchase hit a 3 to get back within nine.
Starting point guard Drew Buggs sat the whole second half with his right wrist wrapped after playing 16 first-half minutes.