GAME NOTES: A pair of Big West Conference programs shooting for a third straight victory get together in Honolulu on Saturday night, as the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors entertain the Cal Poly Mustangs at the Stan Sheriff Center.
Sporting a home record of 13-5 this season, the Rainbow Warriors have won all but one of their eight hosting gigs versus league foes in 2012-13 since coming over from the Western Athletic Conference. On Thursday night, Hawaii defeated UC Santa Barbara out on the island, 70-66, marking the team's second straight victory overall as it moved to 10-6 in conference play.
While Hawaii is third in the Big West standings, the Mustangs are only a step behind at 9-6, tied with UC Irvine for the fourth spot heading into the weekend. Two nights ago, Cal Poly torched Cal State Northridge in an 81-61 final, the team's fifth win in six tries.
Cal Poly won the first meeting of the season between these two teams back in January by a lopsided 88-59 final on the mainland, which means the Mustangs lead the series by a 3-1 margin.
The Mustangs got the job done at both ends of the floor on Thursday night, holding CSUN to just 34.7 percent shooting from the field while hitting at a 58.0 percent clip themselves, including an incredible 12-of-15 behind the 3- point line. Most responsible for that outstanding perimeter performance was Dylan Royer who converted 7-of-8 tries as he finished with 23 points, Also scoring 23 points was Chris Eversley who was not only a perfect 3-of-3 from the outside, but he cleared eight rebounds as well.
Royer, second on the team in scoring with 10.4 ppg, has made good on 71-of-170 (.418) beyond the arc this season, which is actually better than his overall accuracy from the floor which stands at .407. Eversley kicks in another 15.8 ppg, a huge portion of his points coming at the free-throw line (89-of-119) where he has made more shots than all but one of his teammates has even attempted.
Except for Christian Standhardinger who tallied just eight points on 2-of-9 shooting from the floor, every starter for Hawaii ended up in double figures in the close call against UCSB. Jace Tavita led the way with 17 points, hitting 5-of-6 out on the perimeter, followed by Vander Joaquim with 16 and nine boards, while Hauns Brereton and Isaac Fotu chipped in 14 and 12 points, respectively.
Despite his lackluster performance on Thursday, Standhardinger is still first on the team in scoring overall with his 15.9 ppg. Standhardinger, first on the squad with 8.1 rpg as well, is shooting 51.4 percent from the field but just 64.2 percent at the free-throw line. Joaquim checks in with 14.0 ppg and 8.0 rpg to help give the group an edge on the glass of almost six rebounds per game this late in the campaign.
The Rainbow Warriors are always tough out on the island and this year that has been especially true versus conference opponents, and since Cal Poly falls into that category, expect Hawaii to exact some revenge for the loss in the first meeting of the season.
Game Date and Time