Rainbow Warriors fall to UC-Irvine, 67-58, in Big West title game

Rainbow Warriors fall to UC-Irvine, 67-58, in Big West title game

ANAHEIM, Calif. - The magical run came to a close for the University of Hawai'i men's basketball team who fell to UC Irvine 67-58 in the final of the Big West Conference Tournament on Saturday night at the Honda Center.

Aaron Valdes had 17 points on 7-11 shooting and Garrett Nevels added 14 points in his final Big West Tournament game. Roderick Bobbitt had six points and six assists, and one steal to give him 100 for the season and become just the fourth Big West player to record 100 steals in a season. Bobbitt and Valdes were named to the Big West All-Tournament Team.

Will Davis posted a double double for UC Irvine (21-12) with 10 points and 10 rebounds and Travis Souza shared game-high honors with Valdes with 17 points.

The game could not have started any better for the 'Bows (22-13) who raced out to a 14-4 lead. Three pointers from Valdes and Nevels led UH to the early advantage. The hot shooting from beyond arc continued as Negus Webster-Chan and Isaac Fleming (8 pts) both dialed long distance and the 'Bows had themselves an 11-point lead.

The Anteaters would work themselves back in the game. Trailing by as many as 13 points to the 'Bows, they made a late 7-0 push and Hawai'i had to settle for just a 33-29 halftime lead. Alex Young (10 pts, 4 reb) capped the run with a three pointer while UH went over four minutes without scoring. Valdes's jumper in the paint halted the run as the half neared its close.

The second half started with two quick buckets by the Anteaters and it was a brand new game at 33-33. UCI later took its first lead of the game on a jumper by Ioannis Dimakopoulos with 11:02 to play.

After six three pointers in the first half, the 'Bows could not find the range all second half until Valdes drained a three to make it a 52-50 ball game with 3:03 to play. Valdes's three-pointer ended what was a 4:15 scoring draught during which time the Anteaters took the lead for good.