HONOLULU — The Hawai’i Warriors fell to the Utah Utes, 80-60, late Saturday night. It was their second loss of the season.
Utah is one of only two power five schools that the Warriors will play this season. Saturday also marked the first road game of 2017-18 for the Warriors.
Both teams shot less than 45% from the floor, with Hawai’i having their worst shooting game this season, going a dismal 36.5% from the floor in the loss.
The game started off with the Utes and Warriors shooting a combined 7-26 from the field. Freshman forward Donnie Tillman led the surge in the first half, one that put the Utes in front by 15 at one point.
Tillman racked up a career night for himself, generating 16 points off the bench while not attempting a shot from beyond the arc.
Nearing halftime with four minutes to play, only three Hawai’i players were on the scoreboard. Drew Buggs and Samuta Avea had six points apiece, and Gibson Johnson accounted for four of them.
Buggs nailed a three to beat the halftime buzzer to cut the lead down to 37-30 in favor of the Utes.
Neither team seemed to hit many open shots when given the chance, and Utah’s head coach Larry Krystkowiak noticed.
“Hawai’i missed open shots,” Krystkowiak said. ‘We missed open shots. Our discussion at halftime was strictly defense, playing harder.”
Hawai’i was outscored 43-30 in the second half, as their size and shooting were the culprits in the loss.
As a team, the Warriors shot a terrible 18.2% from three point range, while the Utes hit 34.8% of their own.
Hawai’i simply did not have the size to match up inside and hang with Utah, as they lost the rebounding battle rather handily, 46-32.
Comparing the two rosters, Utah has five players standing at 6’9” or taller, while Hawai’i only has two. The Warriors had just one player reach six rebounds, while the Utes had three players reach at least eight rebounds. Sophomore forward Jayce Johnson led all players with 11 rebounds.
Only two players for Hawai’i reached double digits, as senior forward Mike Thomas scored 12 points, and freshman guard Drew Buggs scored a team-high 14.
Hawai’i head coach Eran Ganot was not happy after the team’s loss.
“That was not a good performance,” Ganot said. “You give yourselves a chance when you hold that team to 44 percent from the field … but you have to put offensive pressure on them.”
The Warriors will play the Prairie View A&M Panthers at home on Wednesday night.
Utah suffered an 81-69 loss to Butler on Tuesday and will go on to face off against the Utah State Aggies at home on December 9th.
– T. Zust