Hawai’i (14-9, 5-4 Big West Conference) was unable to overcome a first half shooting slump as they fall to conference leader UC Irvine, 67-56 Saturday night at Bren Events Center in California.
The Rainbow Warriors offense came out cold as they missed 15 of their first 20 shots. The ‘Bows converted just 25 percent of their field goal attempts in the first half as the Anteaters defense harassed Hawai’i into just 18 points.
Despite the poor shooting, Hawai’i was able to keep the game close. A three-pointer from junior guard Leland Green at 8:47 cut the deficit down to just two points. However, the Anteaters offense caught fire, finishing the half on a 20-7 run. The ‘Bows limped into the the locker room down 33-18.
Hawai’i managed to close the gap in the second half with a quick 10-2 run. The two teams traded blows the next 10 minutes. The ‘Bows managed to cut the lead down to six with 7:19 left in the game. However, UC Irvine responded with three straight baskets to extend the lead back to double digits
The defense was not able to contain to UC Irvine as the Anteaters successfully kept the Rainbow Warriors at arm’s length for the remainder of the game.
With his third three-pointer of the night, senior forward Jack Purchase moved past Predrag Savovic to claim the number two spot in UH’s all-time records. Purchase needs just one more to move into a tie with Zane Johnson, who had 180 three-pointers with the Rainbow Warriors.
Purchase and senior guard Sheriff Drammeh led the team with 11 points apiece. Senior guard Brocke Stepteau finished with nine points, while sophomore guard Drew Buggs finished with a game-high nine assists.
UC Irvine’s Max Hazzard finished with a game-high 13 points.
The ‘Bows return to Stan Sheriff Center to face Cal Poly on Feb. 14 at 7:00 p.m.