Fans left the Stan Sheriff doors disappointed on Thursday night. What would have been an upset over UC Irvine and the most signature win so far of the season turned into a painful 75-73 overtime loss.
It might have been a bit of déjà vu to when these two teams last played in the Big West tournament – when the Anteaters erased a 10 point deficit to win by one.
The ‘Bows got out to a great start. Midway through the second half they led by 14. Head coach Eran Ganot said part of the reason they could not hold that lead was some lapses in shot selection and defensive execution.
The biggest momentum swing came with just under five minutes left. Jack Purchase was called for a flagrant foul under the basket
“When they called the hook and hold on Jack… they made some free throws and then they made the three pointer,” said a dejected Zigmars Raimo after the game. “It went from plus ten to plus five real quick so that was a big punch for us.”
“That was one of the biggest plays of the game,” agreed Ganot. “It was a five point swing. Missed the shot. Got a foul on the rebound. Made the free throws. Plus got a three on the flagrant one. Was that what it was. So that was a five point swing just right there.”
Purchase and Raimo paced the UH with 16 and 14 points respectively.
Junior guard Leland Green had a season high 10 points and his 24 minutes was by far his most playing time to date.
“I think he was the igniter of the separation,” said Ganot. “And it’s been coming on. He’s practiced well. I think it’s tough. Leland’s been playing behind some guys that are pretty good too. And I think it’s a good problem to have as a team. You want to have good players pushing. Good battles in practice. I knew coming in that he’d get a crack early. And he earned that with the way he’s been performing. And he’s good.”
It’s a quick turnaround for Hawai’i. They are already preparing to host a fresh UC Davis that has had a week off. A win this weekend would put the Rainbow Warriors Big West record back over the 500 mark at 3-2.