With a Big West Conference title in its grasp, the University of Hawai'i men's basketball team hit a bump in the road, falling to UC Riverside 77-71 on Thursday night at the Stan Sheriff Center.
With a win against the Highlanders and another on Saturday against CSUN, the 'Bows (22-4, 11-2 BWC) would have clinched a share of the league title before heading on the road for their final two games. Stefan Jankovic delivered his third double-double (12 pts, 10 reb) in the losing effort despite playing with foul trouble for much of the game. Aaron Valdes scored a game-high 23 points including 5-9 in three pointers, and Roderick Bobbitt added 17 points and seven assists.
Jaylen Bland led the Highlanders (14-15, 5-8 BWC) with 20 points with all of his baskets coming from beyond the arc.
After trailing by as many as 10 points in the second half, the 'Bows made a late run and even took a two point lead with 3:35 to play. Valdes hit a three pointer to cut the lead to three, then back-to-back buckets from Jankovic gave UH lead. Bland's three-pointer gave UCR back the lead and Hawai'i came up empty on its final three positions to take the loss.
The game had the makings of a blowout early as the 'Bows opened with a 9-2 run on a pair of buckets from Quincy Smith and a three-pointer by Valdes. UCR responded with three-straight three pointers, two from Bland, to take a 13-12 lead midway through the half.
Scoring would be at premium for a good chunk of the half. Jankovic put the 'Bows up 21-16 with just over seven minutes to play but Secean Johnson (19 pts, 10 reb) got fouled on consecutive shot attempts and connected on all five free throws to tie up the game. Bland dialed long distance to put UCR up three then hit from three again to help the Highlanders to a 36-32 halftime lead.
The 'Bows struggled early in the second half but appeared on their way back after a Bobbitt three made it a 44-42 ball game. UCR responded in a big way however, running off eight straight points to take a 10-point lead. UH again made a run after two steals and dunks from Valdes cut into the lead but UCR built the it back up again at 59-49 with 10:09 to play.
UH vs. CSUN will be Senior Night for Roderick Bobbitt, Quincy Smith, Dyrbe Enos and Sai Tummala who will play their final regular season games at the Stan Sheriff Center. Tipoff is set for 7:00 p.m.
Hawaii Athletics Release
Hawaii News Now
420 Waiakamilo Road, Suite 205
Honolulu, HI 96817
Main (808) 847-3246
News (808) 847-1112