In a slog to the finish line, the University of Hawaii men’s basketball team squeaked past Cal State Bakersfield 72-69 on Saturday night at SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center.
Hawaii improves to 16-6 overall and 7-3 in Big West Conference play, while CSUB drops to 6-15 and 2-8 in Big West games.
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After suffering a heartbreaking defeat to conference leader UC Santa Barbara on Thursday, Hawaii came out firing and took an 11-0 lead in the game’s first three minutes.
The ‘Bows, who led 45-28 at halftime, hit a lull on offense in the second half, going 9:40 without a field goal at one stretch. The Roadrunners relentlessly extended the game in the final minute and a half, causing 20 free throws to be shot between the two teams in the final 1:35. Travis Henson’s 3-pointer at the buzzer was the only time CSUB had cut UH’s lead to one possession in the second half.
Kamaka Hepa, who turned 23 on Friday, had 12 first-half points on four 3-pointers, while JoVon McClanahan had 11 on five mid-range jumpers and a free throw. Hepa finished with 17 points and seven rebounds before fouling out at 21.5 seconds to go, while McClanahan finished with 17 points, six rebounds and four assists.
For Cal State Bakersfield, Antavion Collum had a game-high 23 points while making all nine of his free throw attempts, while Cameron Smith added 18.
With 10 games down and 10 to go in the Big West slate, UH is currently fourth in the conference standings.
Hawaii will hit the road for a pair of games in California, starting with UC Davis on Thursday at 4 p.m. HST on ESPN+.