Warriors snap Long Beach win streak, 73-65

Hawai’i power forward Justin McKoy scored a career-high 26 points and grabbed six rebounds Saturday night to lead Hawai’i past visiting Long Beach State. (Matt Osumi photo)

Niftily navigating a crucial and dangerous turn in the Big West Conference men’s basketball season, Hawai’i got past streaking Long Beach State, 73-65, Saturday night to head down the home stretch in solid position.

A crowd of 4,469 in SimpliFi Arena at the Stan Sheriff Center watched Justin McKoy pour in a career-high 26 points with six rebounds and Noel Coleman add 18 points and four boards to help the Warriors improve to 16-12 overall and finally return to the .500 mark at 8-8 in league play. AJ George scored 18 points, Aboubacar Traore added 15 points and seven rebounds and Lassina Traore notched a double-double with 14 points and 14 boards for The Beach, which had its five-game win streak snapped to fall to 18-10, 10-6.

Long Beach State leading scorer Marcus Tsuhonis did not suit up, and teammates Jason Hart, Jr., and Chayce Polynice also sat out due to various ailments.

UH took the lead early and for good at 7-6 three minutes in on Ryan Rapp’s fast break layup and was ahead, 40-33, at halftime before stretching it to 50-35 after Coleman’s 3-pointer with 16:19 remaining in the game. Long Beach State clawed back and closed it to 69-63 on George’s driving layup with 36 seconds left, but Coleman then made four straight free throws to secure the victory.

“(We’re) coming together, really nice first half and probably an ugly second half, just gotta find a way,” Warriors coach Eran Ganot said in his postgame TV interview. “Different guys contributed, I’m really proud of them.”

That “nice first half” included 16-of-34 (37.1 percent) shooting, including 6 of 17 (35.3 percent) from 3-point range, and only three turnovers. Defensively, Hawai’i held The Beach to 43.8 percent shooting (14 of 32), including 0 for 6 from beyond the arc.

McKoy scored 17 of his points in the first half, on 7-for-9 shooting, including 3 of 5 makes from 3-point range.

“It’s been coming for him, too — he’s doing it on both ends, he’s playing inside-out, he gets to the rim, he gets to the line,” Ganot said. “It’s always great to see a team come together, and a player grow. Even though he’s a senior, his future is really bright, he’s a late bloomer. I’m really proud of all the guys, we had to weather some unique things in the second half, so, hey … very grateful.”

Things got a bit dicey with just under eight minutes remaining in the second half, when starting center Bernardo da Silva picked up his fourth foul, but the Warriors were able to power through.

“They’re a good team, they’re super physical and they make you work and they challenge you,” McKoy said in a postgame TV interview. “I would definitely say they’re one of the better teams, they’re athletic, they play fast, they’re physical and they get on the glass — that’s hard to play against. We got in foul trouble, but luckily we attacked them and matched their physicality.”

UH is now at the .500 mark in the Big West since Week 1 of the regular season, having overcome a 2-6 start that was the school’s worst since joining the league in 2013.

“When we got to that 2-6 start, the message was, ‘It’s not over,’ ” McKoy said. “We gotta get hot at the right time. We knew over time it would happen. Now we’re 6-2 (since) and we want to finish up and get four more.”


  1. UC Irvine (13-3)
  2. UC San Diego (13-3)
  3. UC Davis (11-6)
  4. Long Beach State (10-6)
  5. CSUN (9-8)
  6. HAWAI’I (8-8)
  7. UC Riverside (8-9)
  8. UC Santa Barbara (7-9)
  9. Cal State Bakersfield (6-11)
  10. Cal State Fullerton (5-11)
  11. Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (0-16)

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