Warriors rise up, top UC Davis, 87-70

Hawai’i center Bernardo da Silva scored a team-high 19 points with four assists and grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds Saturday night, and also committed only one foul in 34-plus minutes. (Chris Kadooka photo)

When the going got tough — REALLY tough — this week, the University of Hawai’i men’s basketball team got going and knocked off two of the top three teams in the Big West Conference.

The Warriors completed the homestand sweep Saturday night with a resounding 87-70 victory over second-place UC Davis.

An appreciative and robust crowd of 3,984 in SimpliFi Arena at the Stan Sheriff Center watched senior center Bernardo da Silva score a team-high 19 points with four assists and a game-high 12 rebounds as the Warriors improved to 14-11 overall and 6-7 in league play. Scoring machine Elijah Pepper tallied a game-high 27 points with four rebounds and Ty Johnson added 15 points and six boards for the Aggies, who fell to 15-9, 10-3.

With conference leader UC Irvine (11-2) losing earlier in the evening to UC Riverside, UC Davis had a chance to slide into a tie for first place. But UH — behind 53 percent shooting and a patient defense — made sure the Aggies did not occupy that perch.

“Proud of our team, for tonight and this week,” Warriors coach Eran Ganot said. “That was a heck of a team we just played. I know we had been talking about trying to put it together in all three phases, and getting guys clicking at the same time … that’s starting to come for us. But the context of Thursday, the context of today — I couldn’t be prouder.”

Hawai’i had shaken up the Big West standings on Thursday by knocking off second-place UC San Diego, 94-86, in overtime. That was despite Warriors senior point guard JoVon McClanahan sitting out due to a right shoulder injury, and Ganot having to “coach from afar” on Tuesday and Wednesday while feeling under the weather.

McClanahan sat out Saturday’s game as well, but it was apparent that UH had gained confidence from Thursday’s upset and it spilled into the showdown 48 hours later.

The Warriors pretty much matched UC Davis basket-for-basket in the first half, until Pablo Tamba capped a 7-0 run to push the Aggies ahead, 29-24, with 5:51 remaining. That’s when da Silva responded with a three-point play, sparking a stunning 18-2 surge culminating in Noel Coleman’s steal and coast-to-coast fastbreak layup to put Hawai’i in front, 42-31, with 1:29 left.

Just under 90 seconds later, Coleman made a nifty jab step-back move and drained a 3-pointer from beyond the arc as the clock showed 0:00.0, giving the Warriors a 45-35 halftime lead.

UH shot lights-out in the first 20 minutes, making 15 of 21 field goals (71.4 percent) including a stunning 9 of 11 (81.8 percent) from 3-point range, and was also 6 of 8 (75 percent) from the free throw line.

Pepper, a prolific scorer with over 2,000 career points, had 15 points by halftime, but was 5 of 13 from the field.

The Warriors eventually stretched the lead to 71-54 after backup point guard Kody Williams converted both ends of a 1-and-1 with six minutes remaining, and the closest UC Davis could get thereafter was 77-68 with 1:43 left, after Johnson’s two free throws. Hawai’i then made seven of nine from the charity stripe down the stretch to seal the victory.

Williams, who scored a career-high 13 points on Thursday, finished with eight points and three assists. The Warriors got 27 points off the bench, compared to 13 for the Aggies.

“I gotta say, our bench was amazing,” said Coleman, who scored 16 points with five rebounds himself while guarding Pepper most of the night.

Despite the two big wins in three days, UH players and staff know they still have work to do to make up for a slow conference start.

“I feel like we’ve been underperforming as far as our record,” said da Silva. “Right now all we can control is winning every game that we play, so we just look at it as an opportunity to get better. We definitely want to win and be at the top, but just going to take it game by game, and go from there.”

The Warriors will head back to the road on Tuesday, for games at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo on Thursday and UC Santa Barbara on Saturday.


  1. UC Irvine (11-2)
  2. UC Davis (10-3)
  3. UC San Diego (9-3)
  4. Long Beach State (7-5)
  5. Cal State Northridge (7-6)
  6. UC Santa Barbara (6-7)
  7. HAWAI’I (6-7)
  8. Cal State Bakersfield (5-8)
  9. UC Riverside (5-8)
  10. Cal State Fullerton (4-8)
  11. Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (0-13)

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