Things got out of hand early Thursday night at the Thunderdome in Santa Barbara.
With a chance to extend its third place lead over UCSB, the University of Hawaiʻi men’s basketball team was unable to overcome an early offensive slump as they lost to the Gauchos, 79-61.
Hawaiʻi (16-10, 7-5 Big West Conference) scored the first points of the game on a jump shot by junior forward Zigmars Raimo. The lead was quickly lost as UCSB went on a 17-3 run to take a 17-5 lead. Senior forward Jack Purchase’s layup and subsequent 3-pointer cut the lead down to seven points. The Gauchos later went on an 11-7 run to close the half, taking a 30-19 lead into the locker room.
The Rainbow Warriors couldn’t handle UCSB’s physicality. In the first half, the ‘Bows scored just eight points in the paint, while the Gauchos scored 22.
UH came out of halftime on fire, as a 15-9 run in the first five minutes of the half cut the deficit down to five. The run was fueled by junior guard Eddie Stansberry’s nine points, all of which came from 3-pointers. Raimo and sophomore guard Drew Buggs also chipped in with jumpers during the run.
Unfortunately for the ‘Bows, UCSB appeared to have an answer for everything they did. The Gauchos responded to UH’s run with an 11-0 run of their own to retake a fifteen-point lead. The Rainbow Warriors later made a 9-2 run to cut the lead back down to seven. UCSB was having none of it, going on a 22-11 run in the final seven minutes of the game to seal an eighteen-point win.
Hawaiʻi made some clear offensive halftime adjustments, as they finished the game with 30 points in the paint, 22 of which came in the second half. However, the defense did not make a similar adjustment as UCSB scored 26 second half points in the paint (48 in the game). The ‘Bows were out-rebounded 35-27 in the game.
Raimo led the team with 15 points with Buggs being the only other Hawaiʻi player to score in double digits, chipping in 13 points. Purchase, Stansberry, and senior guard Brocke Stepteau each finished with nine points.
This loss allowed UCSB to move into a third place tie with UH. However, the Gauchos hold the tie-breaker after sweeping the Rainbow Warriors. In two games this season, UCSB has outscored Hawai’i 154-115.
The ‘Bows will stay in California to face Cal Poly at Mott Athletic Center on Feb. 23 at 5 p.m. HST.