HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The University of Hawai’i men’s basketball team fell short of completing the road sweep to start Big West play after a 74-60 defeat at the hands of conference foe UC Irvine Saturday night at the Bren Events Center.
The Rainbow Warriors dropped to 10-6 overall on the season and 1-1 in the Big West.
Two night after a conference-opening win at Cal State Fullerton, the 'Bows couldn’t make it 2 for 2 on the road as the Anteaters solidified their case as to why they are defending league champs.
UCI came out strong then used a momentum-turning run in the final six minutes of the first half to take a double-digit halftime lead the team would never surrender.
With the victory UCI has now defeated UH for the five straight times and has won seven of their last eight meetings.
Warriors combo forward Samuta Avea led UH with 14 points, while sharpshooting guard Eddie Stansberry tallied 11.
The Warriors were outworked on the glass as the Anteaters held a 49-34 advantage on the boards.
The first-half saw UH fall behind quickly after trailing 11-0 less than four minutes into the game against a UCI squad that came out hungry in its league opener.
The Warriors would eventually settle in and mount a combeack, Avea’s three-pointer later in the frame capped a 13-2 run that gave UH a 22-21 lead with 6:10 left in the opening half.
However, UCI eager to defend their home court closed the half on a 18-3 run to take a 39-25 advantage into the locker room at intermission.
UH battled back in the second half but UCI would score key buckets every-time Hawaii looked on the verge of swinging the momentum.
The 'Bows cut the deficit to four points, 50-46, on a Drew Buggs layup with 10:03 left, but the Anteaters scored seven straight to get its lead back to double-digits and UH would get no closer.
UH turned the ball over just eight times and held UCI to 33 percent shooting in the second half, however offensively struggled shooting just 35 percent for the contest.
The loss marked the second-worst shooting performance of the year - while the Anteaters out-scored the 'Bows 32-14 in the paint.
The defeat also ended a string of three consecutive conference road wins by UH, dating back to last season.
UH will return to Honolulu for four straight Big West home games, beginning with a meeting versus Cal Poly on Thursday, Jan. 16 at 8:00 p.m.. The game will be part of a double-header with the women who tipoff at 5:30 p.m.