HONOLULU — It’s a long, 2,700-mile flight to Hawaii — and it seemed just as far away when UCSB’s basketball team tried to shoot three-pointers on Saturday.
The Gauchos missed 13-of-15 three-point attempts and lost to the Rainbow Warriors 70-63 at the Stan Sheriff Center.
“We’re just not a very good basketball team right now,” UCSB coach Joe Pasternack said. “We’re just not. We’re going to shake some things up and get guys who want to defend on the court, and that’s my job.”
UCSB, 12-6 overall, is off to a disappointing 1-2 start in the Big West Conference after having entered league play with 10 wins in 11 games. Hawaii improves to 12-6 and 3-1.
The Gauchos had only three assists, got out-rebounded 33-23, and got out-shot 49.1% to 44.7%
“We’re not rebounding, we’re not defending, and you can’t have three assists on offense,” Pasternack said. “It’s hard enough to win on the road in college basketball when you give up that kind of rebounding. It’s just not going to cut it.”
Amadou Sow scored two baskets in the first 69 seconds, but also two fouls in the first 4:26.
Robinson Idehen spelled him and got a quick dunk off Max Heidegger’s driving pass to tie the game at 10-all. But Hawaii’s Justin Hemsley broke the tie with a four-point play, drilling a three-pointer from the corner while getting fouled.
Seven-footer Owen Hulland added back-to-back threes to get the Rainbow Warriors’ lead up to 20-14.
JaQuori McLaughlin hit consecutive two-pointers for UCSB, but Hawaii answered with two of their own. Their fifth-straight make was a baseline reverse by Hemsley to give them their biggest lead of the first half, 26-18.
The Gauchos answered with a 9-0 run to take their first lead since the opening minutes. Matt Freeman’s three-pointer keyed the spree.
Two foul shots by Heidegger put UCSB ahead 27-26. The senior guard, in only his second game back after missing 10 contests with a concussion, led the Gauchos with 21 points on 8-for-15 shooting.
McLaughlin, who scored all 10 of his first-half points in the last 10 minutes of the period, hit a jumper and two free throws to give the Gauchos a 35-33 edge at halftime. He finished with 14 points.
In the first half, UCSB out-shot the Rainbow Warriors 54.5% to 48%, but it was a different story from the three-point line: Hawaii at 50% (5-10) and the Gauchos at just 12.5 (1-8).
UCSB was sluggish in starting the second half, missing its first three shots while also committing a turnover. Sow also went to the bench with his third foul after barely two minutes.
Heidegger had to be summoned off the bench to get the Gauchos on the scoreboard with a runner with 16:52 to go. A three by Zigmars Raimo, however, increased Hawaii’s margin to 44-37.
Sow returned to the game and scored two quick baskets, the second on a whirling fade shot to reduce the Rainbow Warriors’ margin to 46-43. But he went right back to the bench with 10½ minutes remaining when he was whistled for an offensive foul, a call that both he and coach Joe Pasternack vehemently disputed.
The Rainbow Warriors seized the opportunity with an 8-2 run, capped by consecutive baskets by Drew Buggs, to increase their margin to 54-45 with 9:37 left.
The Gauchos petered out at the end, just as they did in their previous game against lowly Long Beach when they missed 11 of their 12 shots. After Heidegger’s baseline fadeaway jumper and Devearl Ramsey’s two free throws with eight minutes to go, UCSB missed its next five shots.
Buggs’ runner got Hawaii up by nine, 60-51, with 4:29 remaining.
Heidegger’s baseline drive finally ended the Gaucho dry spell with 3:43 left. Sow made 1-of-2 foul shots to get UCSB within 60-54.
But Hawaii out-scored the Gauchos 10-4 until Heidegger made a meaningless three in the final two seconds.
“We didn’t play very well,” Pasternack said. “We’re going to go back to the drawing board and make some adjustments here and see if we can get better.”