The University of Hawai‘i Rainbow Warriors men’s basketball team (14-13, 8-6 BWC) pulled off a last-minute win against the Cal State Fullerton Titans (14-13, 8-6 BWC) in overtime, 64-58 this past Saturday night in the Stan Sheriff Center.
It was the last home game and senior night for the Warriors, as they sent off their one and only senior forward Noah Allen, off with a victory and now have moved into a tie for third place in the Big West conference.
“It feels great, you know, that’s all we were focused on was getting a win,” Allen said. “We had all the festivities and stuff like that [after the game], so going out like that was big for us.”
The first half was opened up with a dunk from guard Sheriff Drammeh, putting the Warriors up to an early 2-0 lead. However, it was not as smooth of a ride the rest of the game. Both teams struggled on the offense the rest of the half, with the Warriors barely staying ahead of the Titans the entire time.
Combined, both teams went 1-of-22 in three-pointers, committed 16 turnovers and both shot exactly 10-26 in overall field goals. By the time halftime rolled around, Hawaii was holding on by a thread with a 23-21 lead over Fullerton.
“I’m proud of our guys for their resilience and poise, you know we were struggling mightily offensively and that’s a credit to their [Fullerton] defense, and at times we settled,” head coach Eran Ganot said. “...The biggest thing was, there was a turning point there when we were down 40-33, and it could’ve gone either way ... but the reality is that was our best defensive effort, all year.”
The second half was where the Titans started to pull ahead and managed to snag a lead over the Warriors finally. However, both teams still struggled on their shooting game, as UH shot 6-19 in field goals and CSUF went 10-26 again.
The Titans did hit a stride as they opened the second half with a 13-5 lead and managed to extend their lead to as much as seven halfway through the second. The Warriors did not rest for long though, as they played catch up down the stretch.
It was then that Drammeh picked up a rebound and was fouled by Fullerton, which gave UH two shots at the charity stripe with 4.7 seconds left in the half. However, Drammeh only managed to get one of the two, tying the score up. Even though the Titans’ Khalil Ahmad had a last chance to end the game in regulation, he missed the jumper and both teams went into overtime.
As the clock was set back to five minutes, the Warriors put their heads down and finally hit the scoring spark they had been missing the whole game. Forward Jack Purchase opened up the extra frame with a corner three, while forward Gibson Johnson had a big block and a layup to put UH up by six with 1:42 left in the period. Hawai‘i was then able to take it home at the free throw line, as they scored their last eight points from there, inevitably sealing their 68-54 win over the CSUF Titans.
Allen led the pack with a game-high 21 points, followed by Purchase with 13 and Johnson with 11 and a career-high four blocks.
“I think it was the best way to go out for Noah [Allen], and we’ve only played one overtime game, against Long Beach, and we killed them in overtime then, so we were pretty confident going in that we were going to get the ‘W’,” Johnson said.
The Warriors will now close out their season on the road with a game against UC Davis next, this Thursday, March 2. Tipoff is set for 5:00 p.m. HST.