SAN LUIS OBISPO, California – The University of Hawai‘i men's basketball team suffered its first loss of the season in excruciating fashion with 54-53 setback to Cal Poly Wednesday night at Mott Gym. Chris O'Brien's put-back as time expired proved the game-winner as UH fell to 5-1 after its first road game of the year.
O'Brien's put-back concluded a wild final minute of action. The 'Bows overcame a four-point deficit to take a one-point lead only to have the game snatched away on the final play. Trailing 52-48, UH trimmed the deficit to just one after Zane Johnson hit three straight free throws at the 1:01 mark. After forcing a Mustang turnover, UH got the ball back and capitalized on a Joston Thomas layup with 22 seconds left to take a 54-53 lead.
With its last possession Cal Poly (3-3) scrambled for a final shot with UH hunkering down with some tough defense. Shawn Lewis launched an errant three-pointer and Will Donahue's rebound a mid range shot was also off the mark. But O'Brien was waiting on the weakside to convert at the buzzer and hand Hawai‘i its first blemish of the year.
Johnson led Hawai‘i with 11 points and four assists. Thomas added 10 points while freshman Bobby Miles and Trevor Wiseman each contributed 8. Sophomore post Vander Joaquim hauled in 11 rebounds and added three blocks.
UH shot 51 percent from the floor, held the Mustangs to just 33 percent shooting and won the battle of the boards, 34-24. However, all of that still equated to a loss after the turnover-prone Rainbow Warriors finished with 27 turnovers, including 17 in the first half.
Hawai‘i got off to a slow start. UH fell behind by double digits just seven minutes to the game committing twice as many turnovers (8) as they had shot attempts (4) But UH eventually crawled back into the game and took its first lead, 28-26, on a Bobby Miles three-pointer with less than a minute left in the half. The 'Bows took that slim lead into the locker room overcoming 17 first-half turnovers and holding the Mustangs to just 28 percent shooting.
The second half was nip-and-tuck with neither team leading by more than five points. UH held a 38-33 lead with 10 minutes left, but a 12-2 run gave the Mustangs a five point lead of their own with just over six minutes left. It was a lead they would hold onto until UH held the lead briefly in the final minute of the contest.
The Rainbow Warriors now head to Salt Lake City for a meeting with nationally ranked Brigham Young. Tipoff is set for 4:00 p.m. MT (1:00 p.m. HT) at the Energy Solutions Arena.