Two opponents have scored 40 points against Hawaii in a Big West game at the Stan Sheriff Center.
The first to do it, UC Davis guard Corey Hawkins, did it on just 14 shots from the field in an 11-point Aggies road win in 2013, his sophomore season. He scored 29 and 19 points on his next two visits, both Rainbow Warriors victories.
The most recent 40-bomber, Cal State Fullerton guard Kyle Allman Jr., did it last year, rallying the Titans from a late deficit to a win on his incredible 16-for-19 shooting. His long-awaited encore was Wednesday night at the Stan Sheriff Center.
Allman came out firing … and missed. He was held to five points in the first half. For the game, the dreadlocked Brooklyn native had 14 points on 5-for-12 shooting with no assists and six turnovers.
Just when it looked like he was about to get it rolling in the second half, his thunder was stolen — by one Sheriff Drammeh. UH rallied behind its senior guard to a 79-68 Big West-opening win over the Titans.
There he was, the guy who seemed to be done with the team for a period of time, who was stuck on the bench as recently as a few games ago, taking a charge, dabbing and pointing the way to victory. The former starter was his pesky self at both ends; he baited the Titans into a foul on a 3 soon after he checked into the game as the first man off the bench. He matched his career high of 23 points, but maybe most importantly was the primary matchup with Allman when they were both in the game.
“I feed off games like this,” Drammeh said. “Last year, Kyle Allman came in and had 40. So, we had something to prove. I had something to prove, because I was guarding him.”
Eddie Stansberry (16 points, 4-8 3FG) and Jack Purchase (14 points, 11 rebounds, 3-5 3FG) followed his lead. They each had a big 3 in the final minutes to help seal it.
Allman picked up his fourth foul with over six minutes to play, likely robbing him of some aggressiveness down the stretch. It wasn’t just Drammeh bothering Allman, too. UH was ready to load up on the 6-foot-4 All-BWC first-teamer whenever it could. And often, the Titans were willing to oblige by having the ball stick to one side of the court or the other.
“Obviously it was effective,” CSUF coach Dedrique Taylor said of UH’s defense on Allman. “I thought when we moved the ball we could get whatever we wanted. But the ball stuck a lot in the second half. We weren’t moving it, which allowed Hawaii to do what they do best — they load up, make it tough to get to the paint. You have to tip your hat to them and their game plan. I thought we let them off the hook by not executing down the stretch. But again, you have to credit them because that’s what they do — execute possession by possession.”
Allman’s fellow senior guard Khalil Ahmad picked up some of the slack, scoring 24 on 9-for-18 shooting. But a lot of his shots were via freelancing, including some tough fadeaways. Some he hit. Forward Jackson Rowe scored all of his 10 in the first half, including a thunderous two-handed baseline flush, plus the foul, going into halftime for a three-point Titans lead.
Ultimately, the defensive effort won out, as Fullerton shot 48 percent (52.4 percent in the second half) but never got their brightest star going when it mattered, like last year.
“I think it’s tremendous,” UH coach Eran Ganot said of Drammeh’s D on Allman. “Now, they’re going to put your in tough positions. The shots you hope to dictate, tough 2s over the hand, and they’ll still make them. I was clapping on the sidelines because it was tough, they were making a lot of them at a time. Because that’s what we want to dictate. When we have a soft hand, when they get comfortable, and rhythm up, (that’s no good). Now, he did get Sheriff on a couple where his hand — these guys are so good, you have one little lapse and they’ll kill ya. But he had to work for it at the end of the day. And obviously Ahmad hurt us quite a bit, especially at the start of the game. But we made them work for their shots.”