HONOLULU, HI - After a solid first half where the Hawks trailed Hawaii 39-29, UMES got down by as many as 19 in the second frame before storming back to cut the lead to eight with just over a minute left, eventually falling 76-64 in the season opener for both teams. The contest was game two of the 2012 Outrigger Hotels & Resorts Rainbow Classic.
The Hawks got the final push with just one or two starters on the floor and head coach Frankie Allen was proud of the effort. "I don't like to say I have a first or second team," said Allen in his post-game interview. "Everyone has a role, everyone on this team knows their role, we got a lot of energy out there tonight, especially at the end and those guys deserve some praise," he said.
With just under nine minutes to play the Hawks were trailing by 19 points. After trading baskets for the next five minutes, UMES started to cut into the lead. Troy Snyder (Chicago, Ill.) netted a pair of free throws at the 2:49 mark that cut the Warriors lead to 15. Donald Williams (Hyattsville, Md.) then made one of two from the line to cut it to 14. His missed three-pointer at the 2:09 mark was a turning point for the Hawks bid at a comeback because it was quickly cleaned up by Olatunji "T.J." Kosile (Lagos, Nigeria) who caught the rebound and stuffed it home for a thunderous tip-in dunk that cut the lead to 12.
UMES had tried to exploit the weak point guard play of Hawaii all night and their efforts paid off late in the game. Ishaq Pitt (Brooklyn, N.Y.) and Williams forced the Warrior's Manroop Clair into a turnover and Pitt was on the receiving end of a Williams pass that then cut the lead to 10 with just two minutes to play. Hawaii called a quick timeout to regroup but Christian Standhardinger had the ball knocked away by Pitt again and he converted a lay-in to cut the lead to eight with 1:31 to play. UMES had now held Hawaii scoreless since the 3:21 mark.
From there Standhardinger would put the Warriors on his back, drawing fouls and making lay-ins, scoring eight straight points, ten total in a row, including six free throws, to put Hawaii in the win column in their opener. His final ten points were enough to give him a game-high 27 on the night.
The Hawks continued to hustle to the end, getting two more points from Pitt for 15 total on the night and one free throw each from Francis Ezeiru (Nigeria) and Travis Trim (Oxon Hill, Md.). Trim and Dominique Cowell (Hampton, Va.) were two of the catalyst in the 9-0 run, drawing fouls and playing tough defense.
On the night the Hawks forced 21 Warriors turnovers, 14 in the second half while committing just 12 with only four in the first frame.
The Hawks shot well in the first half, getting balanced scoring from seven different players, including eight from Snyder and seven from Pitt. UMES shot over 38-percent for the frame but allowed the Warriors to shoot nearly 52-percent thanks mostly to Hauns Brereton who went 8-11 from the floor, including 4-7 from behind the arc to lead all scorers in the half with 20 points. The transfer Standhardinger led Hawaii on the paint on 5-9 shooting, tallying 11 first-half points. Those two combined for 31 of the Warrior's 39 points and ten-point lead at the break.
Brereton scored the first 11 points for the Warriors to start the game and the final two of the frame to extend the lead to ten. UMES trailed by as many as 13 in the first half. "We gave them too many good looks early," added Allen. "We knew they could shoot and we didn't contest their looks enough early on, Brereton was hot and we let him give his team some confidence early on and we had to fight uphill from there."
The Hawks settled for a lot of long jumpers in the first half but did get paint play from Ezeiru and Ronald Spencer (Sicklerville, N.J.), who both were on the receiving end of alley-oop dunks from Cowell and Snyder respectively. Despite the hard work inside UMES was called for eight first half fouls. Hawaii was called for just three, two occurring in the last two and half minutes, which stifled the Hawks momentum at key times. In the end they were only outscored in the paint 36-32 but were out rebounded 76-64 as Hawaii's Isaac Fotu pulled down a game high 15.
Snyder led all Hawks with 17 points while Ezeiru led them on the boards with nine, coming one shy of a double double as he added 10 points.
"Francis did great, he missed some free throws, but we will work on that, I was pleased with his inside presence and ability to adjust and block shots tonight," said Allen.
"We appreciate the fans staying up later than normal and listening in, those that did have to proud of the team like I am," concluded Allen in his post-game comments.
UMES will hope to bring that same hustle and hard-work back to the island on Sunday when they battle Houston Baptist at 7:30 p.m. ET, 2:30 p.m. in Honolulu. The games can be heard online and on the radio on the Hawks Radio Network.