Survive and Advance: Titans Outlast Warriors
The 4-5 matchup of the Big West Tournament featured two of the best defensive teams in the conference. Hawaii and Cal Fullerton are both top 60 defensive teams in the country and they showed why as neither team managed to make 40% of their shots in the first half. After falling behind early in the 1st half, Fullerton rallied, taking advantage of Rainbow fouls, knocking down 7 free throws in the half, to cut the lead to 1 going into the halftime break.
The lid was lifted in the second half, as both teams came out of the locker rooms on fire, making over 50% of their shots from the field during the first half of the half. For 10 minutes the teams traded baskets back and forth with Hawaii clinging to a 1-point lead 46-45. A layup by Tory San Antonio put the Titans back in the lead at 47-46, and a dunk by Max Jones eventually extended the lead to 3 at 53-50. Jones’ putback extended the lead to 5 with 1:17 to play. The Rainbow Warriors would cut the lead to three, and then get a controversial stop when after review, the refs determined that there was a shot clock violation on Fullerton. Hawaii would get the ball back with 16.6 left, and after Noel Coleman’s jumper missed the mark the ball was batted out of bounds. After an official review, possession was awarded back to Hawaii. The Bows inbounded the ball, and quickly swung it to Coleman at the top of the key, after pump-faking a defender, the lefty found himself all alone at the three-point line, where he drained the shot sending the game into overtime. Hawaii carried the momentum over to the second half, taking a two-point lead after a pair of free throws from Jovon McClanahan. After Mikey square split a pair of Free Throws, McClanahan’s jumper put the Rainbows up by 3. Max Jones tied up the game with a three, and Latrell Wrightsell put Fullerton up two with a jumper. Fullerton would have a chance to ice the game, but a Tory San Antonio missed jumper gave Hawaii the ball and an opportunity. Jovon McClanahan drove hard to the rack and was fouled by Mikey Square. The junior guard missed the first free throw, setting up a must-miss situation with the second free throw, but the Titans would secure the rebound, the victory, and a trip to the Semifinals.
Guards Max Jones and Latrell Wrightsell played over 80 combined minutes without a turnover while combing for 32 total points. Ball security was huge for the Titans as they finished the game with only 4 total turnovers. “To play an overtime game and only have four turnovers I think it says a lot in terms of their growth and development but also their execution” Fullerton Head Coach Dedrique Taylor
The Titans will take on top-seed UC Irvine in the next round a team that they split two contests against this season.