Isaac Fotu put his “brick hands” behind him at precisely the right moment.
The Hawaii sophomore was a man among boys in the second half of Friday night’s 77-73 thriller over Omaha. Fotu scored 22 of his season-high 26 points in the period, going 8-for-11 for the game and 10-for-12 from the line.
It didn’t take a hoops genius to figure out he was far more comfortable at the line without the thick protective wrapping on his formerly fractured right hand.
UH went to him consistently to open the second half as he scored the team’s first seven points in the period. The Mavericks would still go ahead by nine, but Fotu gradually wore down Omaha’s front line and fouled out Mavs big man John Karhoff, the reigning Summit League player of the week, at a crucial moment.
Fotu’s big night was all the more important with off shooting games from Keith Shamburger (2-10), Brandon Spearman (2-10) and Christian Standhardinger (4-14). Spearman did have an emphatic alley-oop in the first half and Standhardinger had his third double-double of the season, 10 points and 10 rebounds. Shamburger supplied some key free throws late in playing through a hip flexor.
You can argue whether the technical foul on the Mavs’ other big man, Mike Rostampour, in the final minute was justified. That call swung the game.
Bottom line, that was a big-time comeback win against a quality opponent. UH heads into Big West play at 11-3, matching its best start since the 2003-04 season.