By Lance Tominaga, ESPN Honolulu Web Editor.
For the fourth time in five seasons, it was “one and done” for the University of Hawaii men’s basketball team in the Big West Tournament.
Poor shooting and untimely turnovers did in the No. 6-seeded Rainbow Warriors, who fell to No. 3-seed UC Riverside, 62-52, last night at the Michelob Ultra Arena in Las Vegas.
Hawaii’s top four scorers – Justin Webster, James Jean-Marie, Casdon Jardine and Junior Madut – shot a combined 10 for 32 against the Highlanders. Webster in particular had a miserable shooting night, going 0-4 from the field and finishing with just four points. Only Madut (12 points) and reserve center Mate Colina (10) scored in double figures for UH. UC Riverside has three players in double-figure scoring, led by guard Dominick Pickett with 14.
Overall, Hawaii shot 36.5 percent for the game, including 25 percent from beyond the arc (5 for 20). Riverside wasn’t much better, shooting 39.3 percent for the game. However, the Highlanders were able to make four more three-pointers than Hawaii, and converted 14 UH turnovers into 16 points. Those two stats, ultimately, decided the game.
Hawaii led only once early in the contest, 3-2, and had to play catch-up the rest of the way. Riverside led at halftime, 26-24. The Rainbow Warriors stayed within range for most of the second half, and even tied the game at 49 after a Madut three-pointer. But UH went cold the rest of the way, as Riverside finished the game on a 13-3 run.
UH has not won a Big West Tournament game since 2016, when the Rainbow Warriors won captured the league title. The tournament was canceled last season due to COVID-19 concerns.
Hawaii finished their season with an 11-10 record. It was a rebuilding year for the program, as the team lost all five starters from the previous season. Head coach Eran Ganot and his staff will look to replace seniors Jardine and Jean-Marie, who have the option to play one more season but have indicated that they will not return.
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