UC Santa Barbara edges Hawaii with late push

Feb. 18—The Rainbow Warriors ran out of opportunities in a 77-71 loss to UC Santa Barbara before 1, 427 in the Thunderdome in Central California.

A Saturday matinee did not produce a favorable ending for the Hawaii basketball team.

The Rainbow Warriors ran out of opportunities in a 77-71 loss to UC Santa Barbara before 1, 427 in the Thunderdome in Central California.

"It was a tough game, " UH coach Eran Ganot said. "We didn't finish through. The possession game was in their favor."

The Gauchos parlayed 11 UH turnovers into 13 extra points. The Gauchos turned the ball over four times.

"And then we didn't do as good a job this game of rebounding, " Ganot said. "They got a lot of second-chance opportunities."

UCSB constructed an 11-4 advantage on the offensive glass. The Gauchos also scored seven more second-chance points than the'Bows.

The outcome ended two streaks. The'Bows had won three in a row, the Gauchos had suffered three consecutive losses.

With each at 7-8 in league play, UH, UCSB and UC Riverside are tied for the fifth seed in the eight-team Big West Tournament. UC San Diego, which is in second place, is in the fourth—and final—year of a transition to Division I and is not eligible for the postseason.

In the previous meeting, the Gauchos used a 26-0 run in the first half to run away to a victory over Hawaii in Honolulu. On Saturday, the Gauchos scored the first nine points of the game.

But the'Bows responded with 10 unanswered points to take the lead.

The'Bows scored 34 of the final 50 points to take a 34-25 lead into the intermission.

"After the rough start to the game, we did well the last 17 minutes of the first half, " Ganot said. "We did a great job from 3."

The'Bows drained six of 12 shots from behind the arc in the first half. They also were able to use drives and screens to create open looks.

"It was nice to see the offensive flow come back, " Ganot said.

But the Gauchos chipped away with guards AJ Mitchell and Josh Pierre-Louis attacking the lanes. A 9-0 run, punctuated with Pierre-Louis' layup off a drive, put the Gauchos ahead 48-46 with 11 :41 to play.

In the previous meeting, the Gauchos scored 54 paint points. In Saturday's second half, the Gauchos built a 32-12 advantage in paint points. They finished with 44 points from the lane.

It was tied at 69 when Mitchell slid off two screens to hit a jumper with 1 :24 to play. UH center Bernardo da Silva was assessed his fifth foul on the play, and Mitchell's ensuing free throw made it 72-69.

After UH freshman Tom Beattie scored on a drive, Mitchell answered with a jumper that hit the back of the rim and bounced through for a 74-71 lead.

Later, Jason Fontenet II ended the drama with two free throws with 11 seconds left.

Mitchell scored 17 of his 23 points in the second half. Pierre-Louis scored 13 points after the intermission.

"They made big plays late, " Ganot said. "It was determined by a possession battle."

Beattie led the'Bows with 15 points, and Justin McKoy and da Silva each contributed 14. The'Bows were 9-for-17 on 3s and 14-for-16 from the line, including 12-for-13 on second-half free throws.

"We gave ourselves a chance on the road, " Ganot said. "We'll travel back well and recharge."

The'Bows have a bye on Thursday. They play host to Long Beach State on Saturday.