ANAHEIM, Calif. - History was made on Thursday evening as the University of Hawai'i men's basketball team notched its first-ever Big West Conference Tournament win with a 79-72 nail biter over Long Beach State in quarterfinal action at the Honda Center.
Garrett Nevels led the 'Bows (21-12) with 17 points on 7-12 shooting, including a pair of late jumpers in the paint to keep Hawai'i in the game. Aaron Valdes had 14 points on 6-9 shooting from the floor, opening the game hitting his first four shots including a corner three to cap a 7-0 run and lift the 'Bows to a nine-point first-half lead.
Mike Caffey posted a game-high 27 points for Long Beach State who close the season at 16-17.
The Beach turned a 12-point deficit into a six-point lead in the second half, but the 'Bows rallied for the win. Roderick Bobbitt's layup with 5:39 to play tied the game and Quincy Smith (10 pts, 4 reb) scored back-to-back buckets to give the 'Bows a 76-71 lead with 2:48 to play.
Issac Fleming added 11 points and four assists off the bench.
The first half saw UH lead by as many as 12 points. Mike Caffey's jumper gave the Beach a 9-7 lead off a midrange jumper but Valdes nailed a corner three then finished at the hoop off a Nevels steal to regain the lead for UH at 12-9.
The 'Bows continued to hold a slight lead before back-to-back layups from Smith helped extend the advantage to 29-20 midway through the half. Stefan Jancovic hit a pair of free throws to put Hawai'i up 45-33 with 2:41 to play, but Caffey's late three-pointer helped the Beach cut the deficit in half heading to the break.