In a physical tussle between Hawaii and Cal Poly tonight at the Stan Sheriff Center, the Rainbow Warriors narrowly outlasted the Mustangs, 65-61.
A crowd of 2,829 witnessed the Rainbow Warriors (11-6, 2-1 Big West) open a four-game homestand with a hard-fought win heading into Saturday’s contest against UC Santa Barbara.
The Mustangs trailed the whole way, and by as many as 16 points, but had a shot to take the lead with three minutes to go. But they forced up an airball against the shot clock and Eddie Stansberry (team-high 17 points) connected on a 3-pointer off the dribble to push it back to 61-57.
Bernardo da Silva missed two free throws with a chance to extend a two-point lead but forced a turnover, and Buggs got up a tough layup to beat the shot clock for a 63-59 lead with 57.2 seconds left.
Tuukka Jaakkola’s hook shot made it a one-possession game again with 40.2 seconds left. Buggs missed a fallaway jumper with under 10 seconds left and Cal Poly looked to advance the ball quickly, but Mark Crowe couldn’t field a pass from Keith Smith and Stansberry hit two free throws to ice the victory.
UH won the offensive glass 15-4, leading to an 11-1 edge in second-chance points, and the rebounding battle overall, 47-35, although Cal Poly (4-13, 1-2) narrowed that gap considerably down the stretch.
Emblematic of the evening, forward Zigmars Raimo shot 2-for-14 from the field but had an 11-point, 14-rebound double-double.
The Mustangs used a 3-pointer by Colby Rogers (18 points, 6-for-9 shooting) just before the half to get within 38-29 at intermission.
Smith’s Euro-step layup made it 54-50 with seven minutes left as Poly strung together a 5-for-6 stretch of field-goal makes.
It got to three on a free throw before UH finally pushed back. The Rainbow Warriors shot just 32.8 percent from the field.
Rogers’ fourth 3 of the night cut it to 58-56 with four minutes left and UH turned it over, setting the stage for a tense last handful of possessions.