Home stand starts with a bang in 2 straight Hawaii thrillers

Last week we talked about this current anomaly of five straight home games within Hawaii’s conference slate. All anyone can do is do the best with the opportunities presented and entering Saturday night, the Rainbow Warriors had done just that.

The ‘Bows took care of business in their first two contests during this extended stretch of home cooking and evened up their Big West Conference record in the process. They began with an overtime thriller against Long Beach State, outlasting the 49ers, 114-107, in overtime. Hawaii then followed that up with a last-minute 80-77 win over CSUN when Leland Green knocked down a three-pointer for the victory.

Those results put Hawaii at 2-2 in conference play heading into Saturday night’s matchup with UC Davis (11-8, 3-1 Big West).

Let’s not put too much weight into the results themselves, because one unlucky bounce here or there and Hawaii could very well be staring at an 0-4 Big West record. But the ‘Bows were able to quickly put the blowout loss against UC Irvine behind them, which is a good sign moving forward.

The most welcome difference has been the reemergence of Noah Allen. Noah, it’s great to have you back.

Allen regained his status as go-to guy with a pair of outstanding performances. He went for 25 points on 10 of 16 shooting against Long Beach State, then followed that up with 30 points and 12 rebounds on 9 of 16 shooting against CSUN.

Allen scored at least 20 points in three of the team’s first five games and was averaging 14.3 points through 10 games.

He then scored a total of 13 points in Hawaii’s next five contests. That’s not just a dip in production, it’s an absolute tumble.

So to see Allen go off for 55 points in back-to-back games — both wins, no less — makes this team’s ceiling much higher than it seemed a week ago.

One week’s time can seem like worlds apart in college basketball. It’s not quite as make or break as the ongoing elimination playoff throughout college football’s regular season, but some teams manage to figure things out or flip a switch and convey a completely different persona from one game to the next. After last season, head coach Eran Ganot should get the benefit of the doubt when it comes to understanding his team’s personality and getting the most from his talent.

Looking forward, Allen’s rise makes things a bit easier for Jack Purchase to continue his lethal barrage from the perimeter. Purchase is becoming a dead-red shooter with absolutely no conscience (in a good way). He’s shooting 39 percent from three-point range and just over 80 percent of his shots for the year have come from behind the arc. In the Long Beach State win, he knocked down 7 of 12 from long range to account for most of his 25-point contribution.

I wouldn’t mind seeing him throw his 6-foot-8 frame around the paint a little more, if only because he’s almost perfect (30 for 32) from the foul line this year. But he’s a pure shooter and he should continue to get open looks if Allen can maintain the opposing defense’s focus.

Hawaii’s remaining home games before setting another course for the Mainland will hopefully follow a similar trend as the first two. The ‘Bows aren’t going to be a big favorite against anyone in conference play, but they’re going to remain competitive against just about everyone. Their home floor is the best place to take advantage of that competitive knack.

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David Simon can be reached at dsimon@thegardenisland.com.

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