RIVERSIDE, California — The University of Hawai‘i men’s basketball team finished their conference-opening series splitting two games with the University of California-Riverside Saturday afternoon at the UCR Student Recreation Center.
The Rainbow Warriors (3-1, 1-1) had a topsy-turvy contest with the Highlanders that resulted in last-minute baskets between the two competitors in the fourth quarter.
Hawai‘i guard Junior Madut’s scoring surge in the last seven minutes of the game nearly carried the Rainbow Warriors to their second consecutive conference win and fourth victory in a row.
Madut finished the game with nine points, but the points were critical to positioning Hawai‘i to win.
Casdon Jardine was the only Hawai‘i player to score in double digits, as he finished the game with a team-high 26 points and nine rebounds, falling just one rebound short of a double-double.
Down 70-68, the Rainbow Warriors’ Justin Hemsley had a chance to send the game into overtime but missed a jumper at the end of regulation.
Hawai‘i struggled to contain Highlanders players Arinze Chidom, Flynn Cameron and Jock Perry.
Chidom finished with a team-high 15 points, Cameron had 14 and Perry finished the game with 13.
Hawai‘i overcame one area that Rainbow Warriors’ coach Eran Ganot knew they had to get better at in order to compete in conference play: getting off to a slow start.
In a game that had five ties and seven lead changes, Hawai‘i never didn’t struggle with starting off slow as they did against their non-conference openers against Hawai‘i Pacific and the University of Hawai‘i-Hilo, both NCAA Division II opponents.
Hawai‘i hosts a Big West doubleheader against California State University – Bakersfield on Jan. 15 and 16 at 7 p.m.