Hawaii (17-13) at UC Irvine (18-14)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, March 14, 11:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Honda Center (18,336) -- Anaheim, California. Television: FSN-PT. Home Record: Hawaii 13-6, UCI 12-1. Away Record: Hawaii 3-7, UCI 5-12. Neutral Record: Hawaii 1-0, UCI 1-1. Conference Record: Hawaii 10-8, UCI 11-7. Series Record: Series is tied, 4-4.
GAME NOTES: In their first trip to the postseason as part of the Big West Conference, the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors take on the UC Irvine Anteaters in a quarterfinal-round matchup at the Honda Center in Anaheim on Thursday night.
The Rainbow Warriors come in on the heels of a two-game skid, with the most recent loss being an 88-75 defeat to Cal State Northridge, a team already eliminated from postseason contention and which had lost its previous six decisions.
After downing UC Davis on the road last Saturday, 88-85, the Anteaters have now won six of their last seven contests. UCI is making its 31st appearance in the Big West Tournament, and the Anteaters are 21-30 in previous league tourney games. UCI, seeded No. 7 in last year's event, defeated second-seeded Cal State Fullerton, 65-59, before losing to top-seeded Long Beach State, 68-57, in the semifinals.
These two teams split a pair of meetings during the regular season, with UCI winning by a count of 68-64 in Irvine on Jan. 9, and UH prevailing in a 78-72 final in Honolulu on Feb. 9. Hawaii's win snapped a four-game losing streak to UCI, and the all-time series in currently tied at 4-4.
Cal State Northridge downed the Rainbow Warriors last Thursday, despite the best effort of UH's Christian Standhardinger who tallied 26 points. Hauns Brereton added 18 points and Vander Joaquim registered a double-double with 16 points and a career-high 19 rebounds. The Matadors outscored the Rainbow Warriors, 23-10, from the free-throw line, and Hawaii missed all seven of its 3-point attempts in the decisive second half.
Standhardinger is the leading scorer overall for Hawaii with 15.9 ppg and he is second on the squad with close to eight rebounds per contest as well. Joaquim, the most experienced player on the roster with 88 starts to his credit, checks in with 14.1 ppg and a team-best 8.2 rpg. Overall this season, the team is beating opponents on the glass by almost six rebounds per game, but in conference play that margin is cut in half.
Will Davis II registered a double-double with 18 points and a game-high 12 rebounds as the Anteaters held on to defeat the UC Davis Aggies on the road last weekend. Also scoring 18 points for the Anteaters (17-14, 10-7 Big West), was Michael Wilder, who also pulled down nine rebounds of his own. Chris McNealy accounted for 15 points, Daman Starring 12 and Alex Young 11 for the Anteaters. After trailing at the break, 47-28, UCI responded by connecting on not just 55.0 percent from the floor, but also 7-of-14 out on the perimeter in order to assume control and hold on for the three-point victory.
Compared to the rest of the Big West, UCI has been an average offensive team despite leading the league in assists (16.1 apg). The Anteaters are putting in 69.5 ppg and shooting at a 43.6 percent clip from the field, both of which are the sixth-best marks in the conference. Balance is the key, with Starring (13.3 pg) the only player on the roster averaging in double figures. Adam Folker (9.8 ppg, 6.4 rpg) and Will Davis II (8.3 ppg, 6.6 rpg) are the top rebounders for UC Irvine, which is the best rebounding team in the Big West (39.2 rpg). Team defense has been a positive, as the Anteaters hold foes to just 65.2 ppg and a league-low .386 field goal percentage, and they head the conference as a result in scoring margin (+4.2).
With top-notch rebounding and defense as their strength, expect the Anteaters to spoil the Rainbow Warriors' first trip to the Big West Tournament.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UC Irvine 67, Hawaii 62
03/14 10:33:38 ET