GAME NOTES: Sporting the second-best record in Big West Conference play, the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors find themselves back on the mainland on Thursday night as they tangle with the UC Davis Aggies.
The Rainbow Warriors are currently enjoying a five-game win streak, with each of the victories coming against Big West foes. Over the weekend, the team dismissed UC Irvine at home by a score of 78-72, and that means the team's 9-4 league mark has it trailing only Long Beach State in the conference standings.
The Aggies have been unable to get consistent play from one game to the next in the last several weeks, alternating wins and losses over the course of six contests. The most recent installment in that trend came last Saturday night when the team was taken out by Cal Poly on the road, 68-53. With the defeat, the team is now just 5-6 in conference play.
UC Davis won the first meeting of the season between the two squads last month, 93-82, out in Honolulu, which means the all-time series now favors Hawaii by a count of 2-1.
Should the Warriors pick up a win in this outing, it will turn into their longest overall win streak since the 2004-05 campaign, as well as the first time ever in conference play that the program has rattled off four consecutive road triumph.
Vander Joaquim recorded a double-double for the Rainbow Warriors with 15 points and a game-high 11 rebounds as the team held on to defeat visiting UCI over the weekend. Christian Standhardinger logged a team-best 20 points and also cleared nine boards, while Hauns Brereton came away with 16 points, even though he shot just 2-of-11 from the floor. In 16 minutes off the bench, Isaac Fotu contributed another 11 points and six rebounds as the team outscored the Anteaters by a 21-5 margin at the charity stripe.
Shooting almost as well from the floor (.583) as he is at the free-throw line (.603) in conference play, Standhardinger leads the Warriors in both scoring (16.9 ppg) and rebounding (8.3 rpg) in such outings, followed by Joaquim who is second in both categories with 12.8 points and 8.2 boards per outing as well. While he may be coming off the bench these days, Fotu (10.4 ppg) is also a huge factor on the glass with another 6.2 rpg, yet the team as a whole is beating opponents by just under five rebounds per game coming into the week.
Ryan Sypkens, who shot 5-of-11 behind the 3-point line and finished with 17 points, tied the UC Davis single-season record for 3-pointers at 83 on Saturday night, but that did little to keep the team competitive against Cal Poly on the road. Corey Hawkins added 16 points and J.T. Adenrele 10, while Ryan Howley cleared a team-best 11 rebounds before fouling out in the double- digit setback as the team shot only 37.5 percent from the floor and a disappointing 41.7 percent at the charity stripe as well.
Sypkens, who is now tied with Fowzi Abdelsamad (2004-05) for the single-season mark for long-distance conversions, is second on the team in scoring overall with 14.4 ppg as he actually shoots better from behind the 3-point line (.485) than he does the floor overall (.481) right now. Hawkins paces the team overall with his 19.3 ppg, thanks in large part to his 88.0 percent accuracy at the free-throw line.
With a strong front line to work the glass, the Rainbow Warriors are gearing up to make a strong run at the conference title and a win on Thursday night is just another step in that direction.
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