Warriors seek crucial victory at UC Riverside

Hawai’i point guard JoVon McClanahan scored a team-high 14 points with five rebounds and three assists in the Warriors’ 63-56 home victory over UC Riverside on Jan. 13, and notched seven points with two boards and two assists off the bench in Thursday’s road loss at UC Davis. (Chris Kadooka file photo)

With a trip to Las Vegas less than two weeks away, the stakes are getting high.

The Hawai’i men’s basketball team visits UC Riverside on Saturday for a crucial Big West Conference showdown, and a lot is on the line.

Tipoff is set for 3 p.m. HST, with the game accessible for viewing on livestream via ESPN + and broadcast live on radio via ESPN 1420AM.

The Warriors are 16-13 overall and 8-9 in league play coming off Thursday’s 75-63 loss at UC Davis. UC Riverside is 13-16, 8-9 after winning five of their past six games, and enjoyed a Thursday bye. The two teams and UC Santa Barbara are in a three-way tie for sixth place, with the Big West Tournament quickly approaching on March 13 in Henderson, Nev., just outside of Las Vegas.

“(UC Riverside) had great wins over UC Irvine at home and at Davis, which is no easy task,” UH coach Eran Ganot said. “There’s a lot of parity in this league, great battles, and it’s a blessing to play these games.”

Hawai’i does own a 63-56 home victory over UCR on Jan. 13, in which the Warriors used a late 13-2 run to flip a 48-44 deficit into a 57-50 lead with just over one minute remaining in the game.

Point guard JoVon McClanahan led the way by scoring a team-high 14 points with five rebounds and three assists. UH also got six points off the bench from backup center Mor Seck, who suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament injury 10 days later and was lost for the season.

McClanahan then was sidelined for four games due to an injured right shoulder, but he returned to action on Feb. 24 and contributed seven points, two boards and two assists off the bench this past Thursday.

The Warriors are mathematically eliminated from a Top 2 finish in the regular season, which rewards the first-place and runner-up teams with double byes in the Big West Tournament. But Hawai’i still has a chance to finish in the Top 4, which would mean a first-round bye and automatic spot in the quarterfinals on March 14.

“We’re very excited,” starting point guard Juan Munoz said on Tuesday, prior to leaving for California. “I think we worked hard. We had a slow start, but we kind of picked it up over the past couple weeks and we’re in control of our own destiny. So we’re just taking it one game at a time. I know the guys in the locker room are excited, and the coaching staff is excited.”


  1. UC Irvine (14-3)
  2. UC San Diego (13-4)
  3. UC Davis (12-6)
  4. Long Beach State (10-7)
  5. CSUN (9-9)
  6. UC Santa Barbara (8-9)
  7. HAWAI’I (8-9)
  8. UC Riverside (8-9)
  9. Cal State Bakersfield (7-11)
  10. Cal State Fullerton (6-11)
  11. Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (0-17)

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