(HAWAII ATHLETICS) – The University of Hawai'i made a second-half push but were ultimately turned back in a 66-57 loss to UC Irvine on Senior Night at the Stan Sheriff Center. The Rainbow Warriors (16-11, 7-7 BW) saw their three-game win streak come to a close.
Despite the loss, UH remained in a tie for fifth-place in the Big West standings. Meanwhile, by winning for the eighth time in its last nine games, UC Irvine (16-15, 11-4 BW) remained in first place in the Big West.
The 'Bows clipped the Anteaters, 62-61, nine days ago and UCI got its revenge with its calling card—defense. UCI held UH to it's second-lowest point total of the year and just 35 percent shooting. UH also struggled from the charity stripe. Free throw shooting keyed UH's win in the first meeting, but this time around the Bows didn't' have the touch converting on just 16-of-28 free throws.
The game was tied 9-9 early on but the Anteaters surged ahead with an 11-0 run. UCI led by as many as 12 in the first half before taking a 33-24 lead into the locker room. The 24 points tied a season low for the Bows, who shot just 31 percent in the first frame.
UH came out strong in the second half and cut the deficit to just two, 38-36, on a Sheriff Drammeh jumper with 12:45 left. But UCI responded with an 11-2 run to build a double-digit that they would maintain for nearly the rest of the way.
Drew Buggs led UH with 11 points and six rebounds, while Drammeh added 10.
Following the game, Zach Buscher, Gibson Johnson, and Mike Thomas were honored as part of Senior Night festivities. Thomas, the winningest player in UH history, finished with six points and seven rebounds in his final home appearance. Johnson had seven points, while Buscher drained four free throws in the waning minute of the game to tie his career-high.
UH now heads to the road for its final two regular-season games of the year at UC Davis (March 1) and Cal State Fullerton (March 3), before competing in the Big West Tournament in Anaheim, March 8-10.