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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 5, 11:59 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Stan Sheriff Center (10,300) -- Honolulu, Hawaii. Television: OC Sports. Home Record: UCR 3-3, Hawaii 7-4. Away Record: UCR 1-5, Hawaii 0-1. Neutral Record: UCR 0-2, Hawaii 1-0. Conference Record: UCR 1-1, Hawaii 2-0. Series Record: Series is tied, 1-1.
GAME NOTES: A couple of teams coming off close calls get together in Honolulu on Saturday night, as the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors play host to the Highlanders of UC Riverside in Big West Conference play at the Stan Sheriff Center.
Two nights ago, the Rainbow Warriors trailed by as many as 11 points with just over five minutes remaining in regulation against Cal State Fullerton, but the hosts never gave up and leaned on Garrett Jefferson whose only points of the contest came at the buzzer as his short floater in the lane gave UH a thrilling 90-88 victory. The win was the third in the last four games for a Hawaii squad that has the best overall record in its new conference.
As for the Highlanders, they too celebrated an impressive come-from-behind win on Thursday as they scored five points in the final 33.2 seconds in order to take down Cal State Northridge in a 65-64 final on the road. The victory snapped a two-game slide and was just the third win for the squad since the middle of November.
According to Hawaii's records, the teams have split their previous two encounters.
A layup by Chris Patton with 11 seconds remaining proved to be the deciding basket for the Highlanders as they pulled off the one-point win against Cal State Northridge on Thursday night. Patton finished with a game-high 19 points on 8-of-10 shooting from the floor, followed by Josh Fox and Chris Harriel with 13 and 11 points, respectively, as the squad knocked down 53.8 percent of its field goal attempts, but turned the ball over 16 times and came up empty from 3-point range (0-of-9). On a team not known for outrageous scoring efforts, Patton and Harriel pace the Highlanders in that department with averages of 10.8 and 10.7 ppg, respectively. Patton handles the action in the paint with his 5.7 rpg, while Harriel tries to give the group a presence beyond the arc, but he has made just 18.2 percent of his attempts, leading the squad to a mere 24.9 percent accuracy, which is why UCR is averaging only 57.7 ppg.
While Jefferson kept his one made basket under wraps until the last possible moment for the Rainbow Warriors, Isaac Fotu made sure to fill in the gaps for the hosts as he connected on all but three of his 16 field goal attempts, finishing with 29 points and nine rebounds in 35 minutes of action. Also scoring in double figures for the squad were Brandon Spearman and Christian Standhardinger with 15 points apiece, followed by Brandon Jawato with 11 in just 16 minutes off the bench. Vander Joaquim accounted for a team-best 12 rebounds for a squad that again suffered a huge number of turnovers (20), but this time survived. In the last five games the Warriors have had four different leading scorers which can be both a blessing and a curse. Overall, it is Standhardinger who leads the way with 15.6 ppg, while Joaquim steps up with another 14.6 ppg and Fotu 11.4 ppg. Between the three of them, they are collecting more than 24 rpg.
With such a strong presence in the paint the Rainbow Warriors are tough to beat but again, if they continue to turn the ball over and shoot poorly at the free-throw line a team like UCR does have some measure of hope, although not very much.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Hawaii 78, UC Riverside 62
01/05 10:42:20 ET