'Bows edge out Cal State-Fullerton; go 2-0 on road
The University of Hawai`i men's basketball team rallied in the final eight minutes to pick up a pulsating and historic 83-80 win over Cal State Fullerton Saturday night at Titan Gym. UH improved to 18-7 overall and 7-4 in the Big West with the victory.
UH earned its fourth straight road win-a first since the famed "Fab Five" team accomplished the feat 42 years ago. UH also set a new standard with four straight league road wins, something that has never happened in nearly 35 years of play in the Western Athletic Conference and Big West.
Isaac Fotu scored 24 points to lead all five starters in double-digit scoring. Fotu scored 17 of his points in the second half, including nine points during the game-turning surge that helped UH overcome an eight-point deficit in the final 8:35.
Garrett Nevels proved clutch by scoring five points of his 12 points in the final minute-a huge go-ahead three-pointer with one minute remaining to break an 78-78 tie, as well as two free throws with 16.5 seconds to give the 'Bows a three-point edge.
The Titans (8-16, 3-7 BWC) had an opportunity to send the game into overtime on the game's final possession but Alex Harris' three-pointer at the buzzer fell off the mark. Harris finished with a game-high 29 points for the Titans.
The first half was a track meet with each team trading baskets at a furious pace. UH led by as many as seven points early on but the Titans had the last word of the half, scoring eight unanswered points to take a 46-42 lead at the break. CSF shot a sizzling 63 percent in the first frame.
The Rainbow Warriors found themselves down 65-57 with 8:35 left but ended the game on a 26-15 run. UH hunkered down on defense after the break, holding the Titans to just 31 percent shooting in the second half. The 'Bows were equally deadly from the free throw line where they hit a season-best 24-of-26 (.923) attempts, including a perfect 10-of-10 performance by Fotu.
Brandon Spearman added 14 points for UH, while both Christian Standhardinger (10 points and nine rebounds) and Keith Shamburger (11 points, 9 assists) nearly notched double-doubles once again.
UH now returns home for a crucial match-up against first-place UC Irvine on Thursday, Feb. 20. Tipoff is set for 7:00 p.m. at the Stan Sheriff Center.