HONOLULU— The Hawai’i men’s basketball team is looking to capitalize on back-to-back opportunities to defeat one of the top-tier Big West Teams in UC-Irvine.
The Warriors (4-4, 2-4) who are coming off a split series with Cal State Fullerton, a team currently in the last place in the conference, will now take on one of the Big West’s top teams in the early part of the season.
The 76-53 victory in the second game of the series over the Titans ended the ‘Bows four-game losing streak.
Crashing the boards
One area Hawai’i has showcased significant improvement from their previous outings is their performance attacking the glass.
While the statistical category could be misleading against a team with one of the worst Big West Conference records, the statistic doesn’t diminish the ‘Bows improvement.
In the conference series with the Titans, Hawai’i outrebounded the Titans 48-21 in the last game.
Hawai’i will need to continue that trend if they are going to have continued success against one of the best rebounding teams in the Big West.
The Anteaters (8-4, 4-0) aren’t just one of the top rebounding teams in the Big West Conference, they are one of the best in the nation.
UC-Irvine is currently ranked fifth nationally in the rebounding margin, and 34th overall in NCAA Division I competition.
Overcoming recent history
Hawai’i has lost six consecutive games against UC-Irvine, but if they can change that trend in this series, it would help them move to the middle of the conference standings.
In the hypothetical situation the ‘Bows force a split series or a sweep of the Anteaters, it would give the team an opportunity to move to the middle of the pack in the conference.
In the last game against the Titans, the ‘Bows starters combined for 70 points which was a larger output than the entire Titans’ team accumulated in the second game of the series.
Justin Webster is one of those players that continues to manufacture points consistently.
In the last three games, Webster has caught fire, scoring 20 points in two of the last three games.
The ‘Bows will need Webster’s ability to score consistently if they are going have to a chance to win both games against the Anteaters.
The Anteaters have successfully distributed the basketball, and their team’s leading scorers reflect their methodical approach.
Dawson Baker and Collin Welp are the only UC-Irvine players averaging in double figures.
Baker is averaging 12.6 points per game, and Welp is averaging 11.8 points, but the two scoring leaders have players in supporting roles, which helps the Anteaters.
Center Brad Greene and guard DJ Davis aren’t statistical double-takes, but the two together combine for 20 points per game, which is more than enough to create matchup problems on the court.
The Anteaters are also shooting 47.3% from the field in both non-conference and conference games, and that efficiency has contributed to being in the top spot of the conference.
Jason Blasco, reporter, can be reached at 245-0437 or firstname.lastname@example.org.