Turnovers send Hawaii men tumbling to OT loss at Fullerton

Jan. 8—Takeaways and free throws led to the Cal State Fullerton basketball team's 79-72 overtime victory over Hawaii in Fullerton, Calif.

Takeaways and free throws led to the Cal State Fullerton basketball team's 79-72 overtime victory over Hawaii in Fullerton, Calif.

A Titan Gym crowd of 823 saw the Titans parlay 22 UH turnovers into 19 points and sink 33 of 41 free throws to end a seven-game losing streak against the Rainbow Warriors. By winning their third in a row, the Titans improved to 9-7 overall and 3-1 in the Big West.

The'Bows, who dropped to 12-4 and 3-1, saw the end to a seven-game winning streak and co-residency atop the Big West.

"The big difference in the game was the turnovers and the free throws, " UH coach Eran Ganot said. "I'm proud of our guys' fight to give us a chance. We've got to be more consistent if we want to make the next jump, like we're talking about. Taking care of the ball is a big part of being good, and we just haven't been good there consistently."

The'Bows committed six turnovers in the game's first seven minutes, and five in overtime.

"We still defended well, " Ganot said, noting the Titans were held to 42.4 % shooting, including 21.1 % on 3s. "It's a little misguided because of the 41 free throws. They had 11 more possessions than us in terms of taking care of the ball. That's a big difference. We had a chance, but we're not going to overcome that (with turnovers ). We have to take care of the ball if we want to do what we want to do."

Kamaka Hepa, a 6-foot-10 forward who is one of the'Bows' best defenders, picked up his second foul with 16 :20 left in the first half. Samuta Avea, a 6-6 wing, was mistakenly credited with three first-half fouls. The error was caught.

"That was a mistake, " Ganot said. "He had two. We had to navigate that."

After falling behind by as many as 12, and unable to earn their 10th point until 8 :03 was left in the first half, Hepa re-entered, spurring a late surge.

With guard Jalen Harris attacking on drives and Tory San Antonio and John Mikey Square leading an aggressive defense, the Titans led 56-48 with 3 :09 left in regulation.

But the'Bows scored 12 of the next 16 points, with guard Noel Coleman draining a 3 with 2.1 seconds left to tie it at 60 and force overtime.

It was tied at 62 in the extra period when UH center Bernardo da Silva was assessed his fifth foul with 3 :26 left. The Titans then scored the next eight points for a lead they would not relinquish.

The'Bows committed eight fouls in the final 89 seconds in a desperate comeback attempt.

"The last couple minutes we tried to extend the game, give us a chance by fouling, " Ganot said. "But for the most part, outside of that, they got to the line too much. We haven't given up that many free throws in a game since I can't remember how long. That was a big difference in the game. And the turnovers, "

Harris led the Titans with 24 points. Max Jones, a transfer from Tampa, was 10-for-10 on free throws. Latrell Wrightsell, one of the league's top 3-point shooters, was 1-for-3 from behind the arc but finished with 16 points.

Da Silva produced 18 points and seven rebounds before fouling out for the third time this season.

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