Leland Green buried a three-pointer from the corner with 0.9 seconds remaining to lift the University of Hawai’i men’s basketball team to an 80-77 win over CSUN Wednesday night at the Stan Sheriff Center.
It was the second straight home thriller for the Rainbow Warriors who overcame a seven-point deficit to improve to 8-9 overall and 2-2 in the Big West.
Fresh of a 25-performance in UH’s 114-107 overtime win over Long Beach State, Noah Allen continued to have the hot hand for UH. The senior put forth a career-best 30-point, 12 rebound performance for his third double-double of the season. Allen’s night helped offset the absence of starting sophomore guard Sheriff Drammeh and limited minutes for Jack Purchase who was saddled with foul trouble for much of the first half.
In a back-and-forth game that saw 14 ties and 22 lead changes UH had the final say on Green’s game-winner. But they needed to mount another comeback to do so after they fell behind by seven points with seven minutes remaining.
UH clawed back slowly and a pair of Allen free throws with 45 seconds gave them the lead, 76-75. Tavrion Johnson made one-of-two free throws for CSUN (7-11, 3-2 BWC) on the ensuing possession to tie the score. That set the stage for the final 29 seconds as Brocke Stepteau found Green open in the corner for the game-winner. A UH celebration ensued once Kendall Smith’s desperation heave at the buzzer fell off the mark.
Green finished with nine points, as did Purchase who scored six critical points in the closing run by UH. Stepteau posted 11 points and a game-high seven assists, while Gibson Johnson also added 11. Smith, younger brother of former UH point guard Quincy Smith, led CSUN with 20 points, including 15 in the second half.
It was the fourth straight home win for the ‘Bows, who also extended their win streak against the Matadors to five games.
The Rainbow Warrior will play its third straight conference home game with a contest versus UC Davis on Saturday, Jan. 21. Tipoff is set for 7:00 p.m. at the Stan Sheriff Center.