A fourth quarter collapse with three minutes remaining in the game was the Rainbow Warrior basketball team’s downfall against UC Irvine today in the first round of the Big West Tournament, falling to the Anteaters 68-67.
Hawaii (17-13) show 45 percent from the floor against UC Irvine (17-16) but allowed the Anteaters to go on a 13-2 run in the final minutes of the second half to advance to the second round of the Big West tournament while the Warriors’ dreams of playing in another NCAA tournament comes to an end.
Gibson Johnson led the way for the ‘Bows with a team-high 23 points on 8-of-10 shooting while Mike Thomas chipped in 14 points and seven boards. Jack Purchase also grabbed seven rebounds on the game but shot just 2-of-5 from the field including 0-of-2 from three for a total of four points.
Drew Buggs had a rough outing against the Anteaters, fouling out after picking up his fifth foul while committing a game-high four turnovers. He shot 2-of-7 from the field, scoring seven points along with six assists.
For UC Irvine, Evan Leonard was the hero of the night with an impressive 8-of-13 shooting performance for 24 points, as well as the go-ahead bucket with five seconds remaining in the game.
After Johnson put Hawaii ahead with 14 seconds left on the free throw line, Leonard was able to find space on the perimeter and pulled up from mid-range to sink the game-winning basket over the outstretched arm of Sheriff Drammeh.
With five seconds remaining, Brocke Stepteau took the ball down the court and found himself in a crowd of UC Irvine defenders but was still able to put up a shot. Unfortunately for him, the ball hit the front of the rim as time expired.
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