They will have to wait another year.

The Rainbow Warriors basketball team fell on day two of the 2021 Outrigger Rainbow Classic to the Northern Colorado Bears in heartbreaking fashion 81-78 at SimpliFi Arena at the Stan Sheriff Center on Thursday. Hawaiʻi has not won this tournament since 2017.

Hawaiʻi shot 42.4% (28-66) overall from the field compared to 45.3% (24-53) from Northern Colorado. Hawaiʻi had five players score above 10 points, and was led by senior Jerome Desrosiers’s double-double performance of 15 points and 11 rebounds. Forward Kamaka Hepa had a breakout game himself with 14 points and eight rebounds. Hepa was one of three Rainbow Warriors with 14 points apiece, the others being guard Noel Coleman and forward Bernardo da Silva; all 14 of da Silva’s points came in the second half. Junior guard Junior Madut chipped in 11 points of his own.

Hawaiʻi led early in the first half, but their lead was no more than 5 points. Once again, 3-point shooting was a real problem for the ‘Bows as they shot a dreadful 15% (2-13) in the first half, compared to 53.3% (8-15) from Northern Colorado. Hawaiʻi shot 28.6% (10-35) overall while Northern Colorado shot 48.1% (13-27) in that first half. Hawaiʻi had a hard time finding a good rhythm and trailed Northern Colorado 39-23 at the break.

“I think we came out and played with a little fear in our hearts,” Hepa said about the first half.

The ‘Bows started out slow in the second half, taking over four minutes to finally score a basket while Northern Colorado immediately used a 10-0 run to surge ahead by 26 points, prompting a timeout by Hawaiʻi. However, Hawaiʻi did not quit. Hawaiʻi used a 10-0 run of their own at the 11:25 mark to put on a furious comeback to close within 8 points with six minutes left. Hawaiʻi continued to chop away at that deficit and got to within 1 point in the final few seconds, but Coleman went one of two at the free throw line. Desrosiers appeared to have gotten the rebound off the missed free throw, but he lost his grip on the ball. After officials reviewed the play, it was determined to be out of bounds on Hawaiʻi, and that was all Northern Colorado needed to hold on.

“I just wanted the ball so bad,” Hepa said on that last play.

“I was ready to shoot those free throws,” Desrosiers added, thinking that last play was a Northern Colorado foul.

Hawaiʻi shot better in the second half at 58.1% (18-31) and 50% (3-6) on 3-point shooting, while Northern Colorado shot 42.3% (11-26) and 38.9% (7-18) on 3-point shooting. Hawaiʻi outscored Northern Colorado in the paint 42-18, and on second chance points 13-1; they also out-rebounded the Bears 42-30. Hawaiʻi’s bench also outscored Northern Colorado’s bench 35-21.

Northern Colorado was led by Dru Kuxhausen and guard Daylen Kountz at 21 points apiece; Kuxhausen had six 3-pointers to his credit. They were followed by forward Bodie Hume’s 16 points and two rebounds, and guard Dalton Knecht’s 11 points and three rebounds. In addition, forward Kur Jongkuch contributed 4 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.

Unfortunately, Hawaiʻi was dismal on 3-point shooting overall at 26.3% (5-19), compared to a roaring 45.5% (15-33) from Northern Colorado. They ended up with 14 turnovers compared to Northern Colorado’s 11. However, Hawaiʻi missed only two free throws and shot 89.5% (17-19), compared to 69.2% (18-26) from Northern Colorado.