Surging Hawaii beats Northridge to reach the Big West semis

Mar. 15—Taking on in-game adversity, Cal State Northridge's paint-thinning attack and a seven-year history of tournament shortcomings, the Hawaii basketball team fought back for Thursday's 75-68 victory in Dollar Loan Center.

HENDERSON, NEV.—Taking on in-game adversity, Cal State Northridge's paint-thinning attack and a seven-year history of tournament shortcomings, the Hawaii basketball team fought back for Thursday's 75-68 victory in Dollar Loan Center.

It was the Rainbow Warriors' second victory in the Big West Tournament since winning the title in 2016.

By winning their fourth in a row, the'Bows advanced into tonight's semifinal against UC Davis. Tip-off is scheduled for 5 :30 p.m.

"I thought that was kind of microcosm of the year, " said coach Eran Ganot, whose'Bows improved to 20-13. "We dealt with adversity all year. We dealt with adversity in the game."

UH starting center Bernardo da Silva picked up his fourth foul with 4 :53 to play, and his understudy, Harry Rouhliadeff was under medical observation after falling backward to the court in the first half.

The Matadors pared an eight-point deficit to 68-66 on guard Dionte Bostick's layup with 2 :55 to play.

But UH reserve point guard JoVon McClanahan answered with his own layup with 2 :04 to go.

After CSUN's De'Sean Allen-Eikens' short jumper rimmed out, UH guard Noel Coleman secured the rebound. Coleman's two free throws made it 72-66. Bostick made a layup with 1 :01 to play, but the Matadors would not score again. They missed their final four shots.

During the'Bows' struggles earlier in the season, UH forward Justin McKoy noted, "teams went on runs and we didn't respond and stop the bleeding early enough. Right now, we're at that point where we're so mature and we're so late in the year that we know to cut the bleeding, go on our own run, and respond. We've been doing a great job of that as of late."

McKoy, who transferred from North Carolina last summer, helped contain Allen-Eikens in the second half. At 6-6, Allen-Eikens is a three-level scorer who creates on drives and all-direction moves. Allen-Eikens' point total was at 22 after his hook shot with 12 :12 to play. But he did not score again, missing his next five shots.

"That was a testament of, like, Coach's lighting a fire under me, telling me, 'Can you guard him ? Can you handle this assignment ?'" McKoy said. "I said, 'Yeah.' My teammates helped me out and we were able to get (Allen-Eikens ) covered."

Ganot said he knew McKoy would accept the challenge of taking on the Matadors' quick and prolific shooter. Ganot said : "Sometimes I'll say, 'Can you guard him ?' just to see the response. And not surprisingly, he's always wanted to guard those guys. That's a testament to him."

Da Silva, who finished with 14 points and nine rebounds, also was able to challenge the Matadors' drives despite being in foul trouble in the closing minutes.

"I feel I picked up a few silly fouls early, " da Silva said. "It's kind of hard to play when you have four fouls. But I tried my best to stay disciplined. Coach kept telling me to stay disciplined, and I tried to be as vertical (in defending shots ) as possible."

Rouhliadeff contributed seven key points in the first half before his fall. His availability for today's game still was not known Thursday night.

UH guard Juan Munoz connected on three 3s, one from about 24 feet, in the first six minutes of the second half. Asked about Munoz earning the green light on 24-footers, Ganot said, "We might give him a 27-footer. He's a clutch shooter. Honestly, the deep shot doesn't faze him. ... To be a great shooter, you have to have a combination of work, which he does ; technique, which he has ; and confidence. He's got all three. You want to make sure he doesn't lose his confidence."

It was a message Ganot implored when the'Bows missed their first four 3s. "We talked about not over-reacting to missing good looks, " Ganot said. "That can't happen to a team. You miss a good look and you start to panic. Just continue to play right, continue to get good shots, and go from there."

Ganot also praised McClanahan, who missed four games last month because of an injured right shoulder. McClanahan made seven assists against one turnover, and also hit two key layups.

"JoVon was amazing for us, " McKoy said. "I remember a couple of those layups were timely ones, where I'm like, 'We need a bucket.' And he was able to get down there and get a good shot."

After the game, CSUN's Andy Newman, who coached to exhaustion, found little consolation in a 19-victory season. He inherited a team that was 7-25 a year ago.

"Twenty (wins ) would have been better, " Newman said. "And after that, 21 would have been even better. It's always tough as a competitor. You're just built to be pushing and get that next victory."

Newman thanked his players, especially the seniors, "Right now, I feel like crap, " he said. "It's just a tough day. This is my 25th year (of coaching ), and this is by far the worst day of the year probably for most basketball coaches. Just a tough day, especially with this group. First-year coach, the guys who decided to come back and play for me. We have a special bond that they would trust me with their senior years. It's pretty big."


MIN FG-A FT-A R A PF PTS Allen-Eikens 39 9-19 2-2 9 1 3 22 Bostick 39 9-17 0-0 2 3 3 18 Jones 39 6-8 3-510 2 3 15 Hunt 37 2-9 0-0 2 8 2 5 Sangha 19 1-5 0-0 3 0 5 2 Tucker 16 1-2 3-4 3 0 5 5 Frelow 4 0-1 1-2 1 0 1 1 Barnett 6 0-1 0-0 0 1 0 0 Ndjonga 1 0-0 0-0 1 0 1 0 TEAM 6 TOTALS 200 28-62 9-13 37 15 23 68 RAINBOW WARRIORS (20-13 )

MIN FG-A FT-A R A PF PTS McKoy 34 4-13 5-7 3 2 1 16 da Silva 30 4-8 6-12 9 2 4 14 Coleman 36 4-10 2-2 4 0 0 12 Munoz 18 3-6 2-2 2 1 2 11 Rapp 12 0-2 0-0 3 3 3 0 Rouhliadeff 8 2-3 2-2 5 0 1 7 McClanahan 25 3-6 0-0 1 7 2 6 Jacobs 8 2-4 0-0 1 1 1 5 Beattie 29 2-4 0-0 4 1 3 4 TEAM 4 TOTALS 200 24-56 17-25 36 17 17 75 Halftime—Hawaii 36, Cal State Northridge 30 3-point goals—CSUN 3-17 (Allen-Eikens 2-5, Hunt 1-6, Barnett 0-1, Jones 0-1, Bostick 0-4 ). Hawaii 10-24 (Munoz 3-6, McKoy 3-7, Coleman 2-5, Rouhliadeff 1-1, Jacobs 1-3, Rapp 0-2 ). Steals—CSUN 3 (Frelow, Jones, Tucker ). Hawaii 3 (Coleman 3 ). Blocked shots—CSUN 3 (Frelow, Jones, Tucker ). Hawaii 3 (Coleman, McKoy, Rouhliadeff ). Turnovers—CSUN 11 (Jones 4, Allen-Eikens 2, Bostick 2, Tucker 2, Hunt ). Hawaii 11 (Beattie 2, da Silva 2, Munoz 2, Team 2, Jacobs, McClanahan, Rapp ).

Technical fouls—none. Officials—Martin Cichocki, Casey McClellan, Thomas Nunez. A—831.