Hawaii's win at the buzzer last night over St. Mary's is the first signature win of the season for the Rainbow Warriors.. After beating several lesser teams and losing to the three quality teams it had played, the team finally got a win against a quality opponent.
St Mary's came into the Tournament undefeated. It hadnt played a very tough schedule, but had a quality win over Boise at Boise. It was sitting just outside the top 25 until it lost on Day 1 to a weak South Carolina team who got beaten like a drum by Boise yesterday.
Hawaii had lost in a heart-breaker to Boise and as I said in the blog yesterday, often the team that wants ot more will prevail in a Consolidation game the following day. Well, to be honest, both teams came to play. It was very competitive game all night. Hawaii was quicker than St. Mary's and it showed in Hawaii's ability to force turnovers and its ability to penetrate the paint for layups and foul shot opportunities. On the other hand, the Gaels came into the game with 4 starters shooting over 40% from three and their ability to hit the three kept them in the game
The night before Standhardinger had one of his worst performances of the season. Last night, although he struggled from the field, he dominated the Gaels inside with his slashing drives to the hoop which led to 14 made free throws. And, of course, with the game on the line, he drilled a 12 foot jumper from the corner with 2 seconds left for the win.
What have seen from the Rainbow Warriors in the first two games of the Classic is very encouraging. They played hard and fairly consistently against two solid teams. No, not Duke or Louisville, but two teams picked to finish high in their respective conferences. The game aginst Oregon State maybe the easiest of the three, and a win against a Pac 12 team, even one not picked to do especially well, would be a nice way to end the Tournament. For now, Hawaii, in my view, has one of the best Big West non-conference wins so far and cements my opinion that are one of the best three teams right now in the Conference.