The last time the Rainbow Warriors matched up against the Cal State Northridge Matadors was on Jan. 6, 2017, achieving a 64–45 victory, but Saturday night had a different outcome.
Hawai‘i (13–10, 4–6 Big West Conference) extended its losing streak to five after they fell short to CSUN (6–19, 3–8 BWC) 77–71 in front of a crowd of 4,061 at the Stan Sheriff Center.
The ‘Bows dropped its fifth straight conference game for the first time since the 2010–2011 season.
UH had not lost to the Matadors in seven straight appearances, including 5–0 against CSUN at home.
“I think our team has always been united and motivated throughout the year; by the end we are always at our best,” head coach Eran Ganot said. “But this is probably the first time since I’ve been here that it’s not happening currently.”
Junior guard Sheriff Drammeh started off the first half with a layup at the 17:55 mark and a three-pointer at the 17:08 mark to give the Bows a 5–4 lead into the 15:37 mark. It was a slow-paced first half with only nine total points at 5:37.
The Matadors started to get some momentum with two three-pointers from freshman guard Terrell Gomez and another three-pointer by sophomore guard Lyrik Shreiner, making it a 24–23 game at the 7:42 mark.
Senior forward Gibson Johnson helped the Bows maintain a lead with three free throws, however the Matadors picked up its defense intensity towards the last three minutes of the first half.
When asked about the defensive plays and what could have been done differently, Johnson said, “We are going through a stretch right now where we don’t have a lot of defense pride. We will come together and figure it out but it will take some time.”
The Matadors started to utilize double teaming on defense, creating nine turnovers which led to two steals and CSUN taking the lead 35–29 at the 1:41 mark. Junior forward Jack Purchase hit a jumper for UH to make it a six-point deficit 37–31 going into halftime.
The ‘Bows struggled offensively shooting 25 percent from the field at the 15:08 mark. The Matadors matched the defense intensity starting off the second half shooting 33.9 percent from the field. UH struggled in the second half going on a two-minute scoring drought. Freshman guard Drew Buggs broke that with a three-pointer at the 13:20 mark. The Matadors remained dominant at the 7:10 mark with a three-pointer by Gomez.
With 5:54 left in the game, the most UH saw in terms of offense was from the free-throw line, shooting 9-for-11. The Matadors were dominant throughout the whole second half on both sides of the court, so much so that with 2:21 left in the game, 9 out of the last 11 baskets were all made by CSUN. The Bows shot 12-for-28 from the field during the second half at 42.9 percent, and overall throughout the game 23–45 with a 51.1 average.
The Matadors shot 68.4 percent from the field and 65.1 percent overall. Ultimately, the Matadors overpowered the Rainbow Warriors to grab its first Big West Conference win over the ‘Bows, 77–71.
Buggs led UH with 17 points, 1 rebound and 2 assists. Senior forward Mike Thomas contributed to 14 points, 2 assists and 5 rebounds.
Senior forward Tavrion Dawson led the Matadors with 22 points, 3 assists, 3 rebounds, 1 block and 1 steal. Senior guard Micheal Warren also had 22 points, 5 rebounds and 2 steals.
Next up for the ‘Bows is a road trip to California to play UC Irvine on Feb. 15 with tipoff set for 6 p.m HST.