Senior guard Sheriff Drammeh came off the bench to match his career high of 23 points, keying Hawaii’s Big West-opening 79-68 victory over Cal State Fullerton tonight.
A Stan Sheriff Center crowd of 3,378 saw UH open up a narrow lead after trailing by three at halftime, then bury the outcome with closely spaced triples from Drammeh, Eddie Stansberry and Jack Purchase in the final minutes.
UH (10-5, 1-0 BWC) won its fourth straight game overall heading into its first conference road trip. CSUF (4-11, 0-1) dropped to 0-8 on the road this season.
Drammeh, who’d had a limited role since his one-game suspension in mid-December, surprised by shooting 6-for-11 from the floor, including 4-for-7 on 3s in 30 minutes. Stansberry added 16 points and Purchase had 14 points and 11 rebounds. The three accounted for all of UH’s made 3s (11-for-22).
Fullerton’s Kyle Allman Jr., who scored 40 points on 16-for-19 shooting in a narrow Titans win here last year, was defended closely and held to 14 points on 5-for-12 shooting. Fellow senior guard Khalil Ahmad scored a game-high 24 on 9-for-18 shooting.
After trailing out of the gates and falling behind 15-9, UH battled back to lead by as many as seven points in the first half.
However, the Titans closed the period strong, going on a 12-2 run going into intermission, capped with Jackson Rowe’s emphatic two-handed baseline dunk with 3.4 seconds left while getting fouled. Rowe shot 4-for-4 in the period for all 10 of his points while Ahmad had 11.
Stansberry’s desperation 3 to beat the shot clock on a busted possession gave UH a 44-41 lead with under 13 minutes to play, which turned out to be the go-ahead score.
Drammeh gave his team a nine-point lead with a pair of free throws. When Fullerton cut it to four, Drammeh hit a 3 to stem the mini-run with 7:20 to play. He followed up with a three-point play on a drive into Allman’s chest — giving the Fullerton guard his fourth foul — for a 58-48 lead with 6:22 remaining.
Drammeh connected on a deep 3 from straightaway, but the Titans kept coming. Ahmad’s free throws cut it to four with 4:19 on the clock and Jamal Smith followed with one more to cut it to 63-60.
Drammeh answered with his fourth 3 with three minutes left. After a Fullerton layup, Stansberry hit one from the corner, plus the foul. Purchase then cashed in from the top of the arc to make it 72-64 with 1:16 left.