Gameday: Big West semifinals
Hawaii gave Big West regular-season champion UC Davis rubs in both of the teams’ previous meetings this season.
If you’ll recall, one of the more memorable games of the season occurred when UH routed then-undefeated Davis at the Stan Sheriff Center on Jan. 22. The final was 84-76, but that wasn’t indicative of how lopsided it was. UH was called for two technicals in the final seconds — one on the team for debris thrown on the court and one on a frustrated Aaron Valdes — which allowed UCD to narrow the final gap.
UH had its chances at Davis, as well. The Rainbows led in the second half before falling 74-67, a game in which Tyler Les, the son of Big West Coach of the Year Jim Les, exploded for a career-high nine 3-pointers.
Stopping Big West Player of the Year Corey Hawkins remains paramount, of course. Hawkins had subpar games in both meetings with UH, especially at home. In the past, however, he’s absolutely lit up Hawaii.
That will be the province of Garrett Nevels, as well as other guards like Roderick Bobbitt, Quincy Smith and perhaps even Valdes.
Hawaii hasn’t been to a conference championship game since 2001-02, when the ‘Bows won a program-record 27 games, won the WAC regular season and tournament, and last made the NCAA Tournament.
Hawaii couldn’t have asked for a better matchup in its first two games of the Big West Tournament. I’m glad they sucked it up and toughed it out down the stretch! The championship game will certainly be a challenge, but they’ve shown during the year they can rise to the occasion!