GAME NOTES: As is usually the case, the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors continue to keep late hours into the postseason as they contend with the Cal State Northridge Matadors in the quarterfinals of the 39th annual Big West Conference Tournament.
Hawaii, which joined the Big West for basketball just last season, is the fourth seed in this year's event after being a five seed in 2012-13 when it bowed out in the quarterfinals against UC Irvine (71-60). The Rainbow Warriors had a very strong non-conference showing this time around and some of that carried over into the league slate as they finished 9-7. The team was 20-10 overall, marking their first 20-win campaign in a decade.
As for the fifth-seeded Matadors, a team which won this event back in 2009 but was absent from the field the last couple of seasons, they posted a 7-9 conference ledger after winning the regular-season finale, 91-83, versus the Long Beach State 49ers a week ago.
CSUN is under the direction of first-year head coach Reggie Theus who previously was in charge of the New Mexico State Aggies who were once conference mates with Hawaii over in the Western Athletic Conference, which means he's had experience going up against the Rainbow Warriors.
This is the first game in the all-time series between the teams to be played on a neutral floor, with the Rainbow Warriors owning an 8-3 edge over CSUN. The teams split the two meetings during the regular season, each winning at home as the Matadors slipped by in California by a 79-78 score and the Rainbow Warriors returned the favor at the Stan Sheriff Center, 77-63.
The winner of this meeting will be back in action in the semifinals on Friday against an opponent to be determined based on the teams remaining and their seeding.
Taking charge of the Matadors this season was Stephen Maxwell who was named to the All-Big West First Team for his efforts. A starter in all 16 league games, Maxwell put up 19.1 ppg as he shot 53.4 percent from the floor, adding a team- best 9.3 rpg as well. But as great as those numbers sound, it should also be noted that Maxwell tallied just 14 assists and turned the ball over 44 times in those Big West outings. Josh Greene pitched in with 16.7 ppg as he converted a team-high 31 3-pointers, but his overall accuracy from the floor languished at just 38.6 percent. Stephen Hicks accounted for 16.1 ppg and 6.3 rpg, while Tre Hale-Edmerson tallied 6.9 ppg, 7.3 rpg and 27 rejections.
Producing one of their best seasons in quite some time, the Rainbow Warriors had the luxury of leaning on a pair of All-Big West First Team performers in Isaac Fotu and Christian Standhardinger, a duo that presented a formidable front line that intimidated more than a few opponents along the way. In conference play alone, Standhardinger stepped up to register 17.7 ppg and 9.3 rpg, numbers that led Hawaii in both categories, although he also played a bit fast and loose with the ball at times, leading to 46 turnovers. Fotu was responsible for 16.7 ppg and 6.0 rpg, shooting an impressive 59.9 percent from the floor, and yet the team as a whole checked in at just 46.5 percent en route to 77.9 ppg.
Clearly Maxwell has the potential to be a game-changer for the Matadors, unfortunately he is just one man while Hawaii has two such performers in Fotu and Standhardinger. Granted, the Rainbow Warriors are not the best at playing on the mainland, but in this case they should be fine.
Game Date and Time