In a physical first half that saw pushing, shoving and players getting chippy toward each other, the Beach jumped out to an early 11-point lead. They seemed to be experiencing deja vu from Friday night’s game, mimicking the same moves and held a 38-31 lead at halftime.
They shot 50% from the floor and 44% from three-point range behind Carter III’s 20 points and seven rebounds.
The Rainbow Warriors bounced back early in the second half, scoring 11 consecutive field goals, including four three-pointers in a row. During that run, Long Beach was late getting back on defense on several possessions, and it looked as if Hawai’i was going to coast to a comfortable victory.
With just over nine minutes remaining in the game and Hawai’i leading 77-65, the Beach went on an 11-0 run to trail by one with less than two minutes remaining.
Hawai’i sophomore guard JoVon McClanahan hit two clutch free throws in the closing seconds, extending the Rainbow Warriors lead to three and sealing the victory.
Saturday’s loss allowed the Rainbow Warriors to leapfrog the Beach for sixth place in the Big West Conference standings.
Long Beach will face the second-ranked UC Irvine in the Walter Pyramid March 5 and 6 with their playoff hopes on the line. Tipoff is at 4 p.m.