(HAWAII ATHLETICS) – The University of Hawai'i men's basketball team completed a road sweep with a dramatic 74-69 win over UC Riverside Saturday night at the UCR Student Rec Center. With their second straight road win, UH improved to 15-10 overall and 6-6 in the Big West.
Two night after winning at UC Irvine by a mere point, UH claimed another close win, backed by a career performance by Sheriff Drammeh, a school-record tying 14 three-pointers, and some clutch play from a number of players down the stretch in overtime.
They needed every bit of it as UH was without top scorer and rebounder Mike Thomas and fellow senior Gibson Johnson was saddled with foul trouble for much of the game before exiting with four minutes left in regulation.
Drammeh led the way by pouring in a career-high 23 points and drilled five of UH's 14 three-pointers. The junior guard also was big on the defensive end, drawing a charge on UCR's final offensive possession in overtime with UH clinging to a three-point lead.
Drammeh wasn't the only clutch player for UH. Jack Purchase, who was quiet offensively for much of the evening, came alive when UH needed it to the most. The junior scored six points in the final minute, including the go-ahead elbow jumper with 34 seconds remaining. Purchase posted his first career double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Meanwhile, Drew Buggs scored five of his 11 points in overtime and had a team-high seven assists. Brocke Stepteau also finished with 11 points, going 3-of-6 from behind the arc.
After a lackluster first half in which both teams struggled offensively, the teams made for an entertaining show the rest of the way with a combined 17 three-pointers in the second half and overtime. UH led 25-22 at the break and fueled by the long ball, built its lead to as many as 11 points midway through the second half.
But the Highlanders went on a 17-5 run--fueled by Chance Murray who finished with 21 points and seven steals. UCR took a 52-51 lead with five minutes left in regulation and led by four with two minutes remaining. But Drammeh's driving bucket with 25 seconds set up overtime, an exciting extra period that saw two ties and five lead changes.
With the win, UH avenged a 64-60 loss to the Highlanders (7-19, 2-10 BW) in Honolulu 10 days ago, and picked up their third straight win in Riverside. The visitor has won six straight games in the series.
The Rainbow Warriors now return home for their final two home games of the season, beginning with a matchup vs. Long Beach State on Thursday, Feb. 22 at 7 p.m.