Long Beach men’s basketball (5-8), despite leading by as much as 16 points, fell short against Hawai’i (9-8) by two points, 78-76 Friday at the Stan Sheriff Center in Hawaii in the first game of a two-game series.
The Beach led the entire first half, but Hawai’i nailed five straight three-pointers at the beginning of the second half to close the gap.
His three-point attempt fell just short of the rim. Hunter led all scorers with 23 points including four three-pointers and posted nine rebounds with four steals.
Senior guard Isaiah Washington, who was limping throughout the game, still managed to post 17 points for the Beach.
Long Beach came out strong in the first half and looked dominant against Hawai’i. The team had a field percentage of 56% and shot 50% from three-point land, leading 39-30 at halftime.
Hawai’i struggled and only shot 15% from the three-point arc in the first half, but finished shooting 35% overall.
The Rainbow Warriors held onto their momentum in the second half as they took their first lead of the game with 9:45 left on the clock. The teams exchanged leads through the final nine minutes, and no team enjoyed a lead larger than five points down the stretch.
A pair of free throws from Hawai’i sophomore guard Justin Webster ended up being the deciding points of the game.
Webster led Hawai’i in scoring with 16 points, while sophomore guard Jovon McClanahan had a season-high of 13 points, going 6-for-9 from the field.
Long Beach junior guard Michael Carter III played 37 minutes, the most of anyone on the floor, and posted 11 points, while freshman guard Jadon Jones added 12 points in 33 minutes played.
The loss ends the two-game winning streak by Long Beach, and brings its overall conference record to 4-5, while Hawaii improved to a 7-8 record.
The teams will conclude the two-game series Saturday, at Stan Sheriff Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.