Hawai’i falls short against UC Irvine, drops 5th of last six games

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED JAN 11, 2023

HONOLULU — The University of Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors (9-7, 1-3 Big West) dropped their fifth game in the last six tries on Thursday, falling to conference-leading UC Irvine (12-5, 5-0 Big West), 60-50, inside SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center. 

The two squads got off to a back-and-forth start, trading the lead multiple times as Hawai’i trailed, 7-6, at the first media timeout. After trading the lead nine times, the ‘Bows pushed back ahead for the final time, going up 15-13 with 11:31 left in the opening half after Bernardo de Silva got a cutting layup to go. 

That’s when the Anteaters of UC Irvine would roll off a 20-5 run over the final 11 minutes of the first half – aided by a rare Eran Ganot technical foul after back-to-back questionable decisions from the officials – to enter the halftime break with a 33-20 lead in hand. 

Despite the momentary step back, Ganot had hopes that the intensity of him fighting for his guys would help inspire an otherwise dull ‘Bows offensive effort.  

“I didn’t like the call – I don’t get many [techs],” Ganot said of the technical foul postgame. “I liked the fire our guys had in the second half. I said at halftime I would get myself thrown out of this game if it meant some kind of light, spark [for the team].” 

UH’s JoVon McClanahan sparked the ‘Bows second half offense from the start with a free throw line pull-up to begin a better offensive second half for the Rainbow Warriors. Behind the team’s defense, Hawai’i continued to stick around with the conference-leading Anteaters and with the help of super-sub Juan Munoz, UH crept back from 15 points down to make it a one possession game, 48-45, with nine minutes remaining in regulation. 

That would be the closest it would get for the Rainbow Warriors, giving up back-to-back buckets to see the Irvine lead grow back to seven. Hawai’i continued to make comeback efforts as the time ticked off, but the effort proved futile as UH would fall to the cream of the crop in the Big West Conference, 60-50. 

UC Irvine was led by Pierre Crockrell II’s 16 points on 8-of-15 shooting from the floor, getting 12 points from each of John Hohn and Carter Welling as well in the victory. 

“He understands the position at a high level,” Ganot said of the Anteaters’ guard after the game. “Today was one of the games he scored more. He usually doesn’t score as much but he can, he’s capable. He’s an elite midrange pull-up guy… [We] respect him.” 

Hawai’i’s Bernardo de Silva finished the night with a game-best 17 points and 14 rebounds, posting his fifth double-double of the season. Juan Munoz chipped in nine points and handed out three assists off of the bench in the loss for UH. 

The ‘Bows will try to get back to their winning ways this weekend when they host UC Riverside on Saturday, January 13 inside SimpliFi Arena.