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College Basketball

UCSB Comeback Falls Short at Hawaii, 77-76

Gauchos get early-morning scare from a mistaken text alert about a missle attack

UCSB put on a furious second-half rally against Hawaii but came up short in the end, falling 77-76 in a Big West men's basketball game on Saturday night at the Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu.

The Warriors (12-5 overall, 3-1 in the Big West) used a 16-8 run to end the first half and a 13-6 stretch to start the second, extending its lead over the Gauchos (12-5, 1-2) from 26-25 to 55-39. 

UCSB, however, fought back, going on a 13-0 stretch to draw within 55-52. Max Heidegger scored 11 of the 13 points, including the last nine on three three-point baskets, the last one coming with 12:21 on the clock.

The lead remained between three and seven for the next several minutes, but a pair of Heidegger free throws and then a lay-up by Gabe Vincent with 4:10 remaining made it a 64-63 game. 

UH responded with a three-pointer from Jack Purchase and a Gibson Johnson bank shot to make it 69-63. Jalen Canty hit a lay-up of his own to cut the gap to 69-65. The teams traded empty possessions before Hawaii freshman Drew Buggs drained a three from the right corner to make it 72-65 with 51 seconds to play. 

Heidegger attempted a three-pointer and was fouled by Sheriff Drammeh with 42.9 seconds remaining. He made all three free throws to close the score to 72-68. 

A pair of free throws by Buggs was matched by a running hook shot from Leland King II and the lead was back down to 74-70. Drammeh canned a pair of free throws to extend the advantage to 76-70. The Gauchos committed a turnover on their next possession and then fouled Drammeh, who missed both free throws. 

UCSB rebounded the miss and got the gall to Heidegger, who drained a long, contested three-pointer from the top of the key with 8.9 seconds left. Hawaii inbounded the ball to Johnson who was fouled by King at the 8.1-second mark. Johnson made the first of the two free throws to make it a 77-73 game. 

Marcus Jackson made a three-pointer at the buzzer and final score was 77-76. 

Head coach Joe Pasternack thought the keys to the game were his team's early free-throw shooting and the Warriors sizzling start as they scored 20 points in the game's first four minutes. 

"It's hard to win when you give up 20 points in the first four-minute segment of the game," he said. "And it's nearly impossible when you shoot free throws like we did in the first half." 

UCSB missed eight of its first nine free throw attempts before settling down and making 13-of-15 to end the game as it battled battled back from the 16-point deficit. 

"I like the way our team fought back," Pasternack said. "But we're a good offensive team. We need to find a way to get better defensively to have the best chance to succeed in this league." 

Hawaii made 55.1% of its field goal attempts overall and 43.8% of its three-point attempts. The Gauchos finished at 46.4% overall and hit 10-of-24 three-point attempts, 41.7%.

Heidegger finished with a game-high 22 points while Canty added 16 and eight rebounds. King and Vincent each tallied 11 points and Jackson had 10 to give UCSB five players in double-figures.

The Warriors were led by Johnson, who made 8-of-9 shots and had 18 points.

UCSB returns home to host Big West frontrunner Cal State Fullerton on Wednesday, Jan. 17 at 7 p.m. in the Thunderdome.

The Gauchos were shaken out of their beds on Saturday morning when their cell phones went off with an alert text from the U.S. Pacific Command saying a ballistic missle had been launched and would reach the islands in short order. The alert also broke into regular radio and television progamming at about 7:50 a.m. Hawaii time.

The team, along with most others in the state, scrambled to stay away from windows, hunkered down in stairwells and, generally, went into panic. 

But 38 minutes after the first dire warning, there was a second alert announcing that the first was a mistake. The players, coaches and staff mostly welcomed the second alert with great relief and went back to bed. 

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