Hawaii (19-9) at UC Santa Barbara (19-8)
GAME NOTES: The Hawaii Rainbows Warriors travel to the mainland to take on the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos in a Big West Conference showdown at The Thunderdome.
Hawaii fell at Long Beach State, 63-61, last Thursday in its most recent outing. Despite that setback, the Rainbow Warriors have won four of their last six games and sit in fourth place in the Big West.
This past Saturday, the Gauchos won at UC Davis in a 67-54 final, marking their third win in the last four games, and leaving them in second place in the conference, just a game behind UC Irvine.
This will be the 12th meeting between these two teams, with Hawaii leading the series 6-5. The Rainbow Warriors are 2-2 versus the Gauchos in Santa Barbara. The Gauchos won the first meeting this season, 75-64, in Honolulu on Feb. 6. Hawaii took both matchups last season.
Travis Hammonds drilled a 3-pointer with eight seconds to play, lifting the Long Beach State 49ers over the Rainbow Warriors. Christian Standhardinger recorded 17 points and 11 rebounds and Brandon Spearman chipped in 11 points for Hawaii. Hawaii clung to a 35-33 lead at halftime. The teams traded the lead on nine separate occasions in the second half, with the final change coming when Hammonds nailed the game-winner to cap off an 8-1 run by the 49ers that closed out the game.
On the season, Standhardinger is averaging a team-best 17.8 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. Isaac Fotu, a 59.8 percent shooter from the floor, is putting up 15.4 ppg and 6.3 rpg, while Garrett Nevels (13.8 ppg) and Spearman (11.3 ppg) round out the team's double-digit scorers. As a unit, the Rainbow Warriors are scoring a conference-best 79.9 ppg, while giving up 72.1 ppg.
Michael Bryson scored 19 points as the Gauchos routed the UC Davis Aggies last time out. Zalmico Harmon added 11 points and six assists, while Alan Williams tallied eight points and cleared 10 boards before fouling out for the Gauchos. UCSB led 32-23 at the intermission. The Gauchos connected on 55 percent of their shots from the floor in the second stanza. UCSB started the period on an 11-2 run and extended its lead to 18 points. The Gauchos never looked back and coasted to victory.
Even though he scored well below his season average on Saturday, Williams continues to be one of the most dominant performers in the conference, with his 21.6 ppg and 11.6 rpg, both the top mark in the Big West, making him one of only a handful of players in the nation averaging a double-double this late in the season. Bryson (11.1 ppg) and Kyle Boswell (10.3 ppg) step up with some offensive support for a squad that nets 71.9 ppg, good enough for third in the league, but the defense has done most of the hard work this season by limiting foes to 65.1 ppg, second-best in the Big West.
The Gauchos have the regular-season conference title still within reach, so expect them to bring their A-game. Williams is one of the top players in the league, so his presence and the defensive prowess of the Gauchos should make the difference in this one.
GAME NOTES: The Hawaii Rainbows Warriors travel to the mainland to take on the
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos in a Big West Conference showdown at The Thunderdome.Fact Stats
FACTS & STATS: Site: The Thunderdome (6,000) -- Santa Barbara, California.
Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Hawaii 13-5, UCSB 9-3. Away Record: Hawaii
5-4, UCSB 8-5. Neutral Record: Hawaii 1-0, UCSB 2-0. Conference Record: Hawaii
8-6, UCSB 10-4. Series Record: Hawaii leads, 6-5.Game Date and Time
Thursday, March 6, 9 p.m. (ET)Predicted Outcome
UC Santa Barbara 72, Hawaii 64