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by Tiffany Garrett, staff writer

 

HPU men’s basketball opened conference play to two tough losses to Grand Canyon University Jan. 3 and 4 at the Neal Blaisdell Center, 54-49 and 58-50, respectively.

In the first three minutes of the Jan. 4 game, three Sea Warriors had already drawn fouls with HPU scoreless on the board. Logan Wolf managed to push his way through the paint and score the first basket for the Sea Warriors in the fourth minute of the game, but GCU continued to set the momentum, leaping out to a quick lead, with two three-pointers and several free throws.

HPU’s Kamron Alborz sparked the bench and Spirit Club with a long three-pointer that brought the Sea Warriors within three points of the Antelopes, but GCU turnovers and inconsistent shooting by HPU kept both teams from scoring. In the first 12 minutes of the first half, HPU’s field goal percentage was 21.4 percent, and GCU was hitting only 29.2 percent.

The momentum shifted back to the Antelopes when GCU’s Milee Karre hit consecutive three-pointers to give them a 10-point lead. When HPU finally broke into double digits in the 16th minute of the game, they trailed 21-10 and ended the half trailing 29-18.

GCU grabbed the second-half momentum by forcing HPU turnovers and sinking crucial field goals to establish and maintain an 18-point lead. The Sea Warriors were unable to spark their offense, but a three-pointer by Ryan Walker brought them within 11 points of the Antelopes. With eight minutes remaining in the game, two free throws by Brandon Lee closed the deficit to nine points, and Lee sank two more free throws to bring HPU within seven points and 3:35 remaining.

Walker hit his second three-pointer of the night and set off the HPU bench, making the score 45-49 with 1:48 left on the clock. A foul by Adam Reinking sent GCU’s Jason Stromvall to the line, where he dampened Sea Warriors comeback hopes by sinking two free throws, boosting the lead to six with a minute left to play.

Andray Glenn sank two more free throws, but Reinking countered with his first three-pointer of the game. GCU’s 73.7 percent free throw shooting ended the Sea Warriors hopes of a conference win and the game at 58-50.

Rudy Bogan led the Antelopes with 19 points and nine rebounds, while Lee led the Sea Warriors with 11 points and four rebounds.

“ These last two games, we didn’t start off well,” said Head Coach and interim Athletic Director Darren Vorderbruegge. “I think we did a pretty good job defensively, and it’s not that we didn’t make good shot choices, but we just didn’t make the good shots, shots that we typically make,” Vorderbruegge added.

Season recap

On Dec. 2, the Sea Warriors, who are used to making second-half comebacks, fell short to Holy Names University, 76-63. NAIA All-American Marshall Hartman proved to be a nemesis to the Sea Warriors, scoring a game-high 33 points. HPU trailed 38-30 at the half, but managed to tie the Hawks at 53-53, with the help of Brandon Lee’s team-high 16 points. However, HNU launched a 16-4 run in the final minutes of the game to secure the win.

On Dec. 7, HPU played its first road game of the season, and lost 53-51 to Menlo College in Atherton, Calif. Although the HPU defense remained strong, the Sea Warrior offense struggled, shooting 26 percent in the first half. In the second half, the Sea Warriors doubled their shooting percentage and were close to forcing overtime. Mickey Wheeler, who led HPU with 10 points, attempted to tie up the game, but his shot was blocked with 12 seconds left, giving the Oaks their third win of the year.

The Sea Warriors met the University of California-San Diego on Dec. 10, and ended their road trip with a sweet victory over the Tritons, 53-50. Once again, the HPU defense rose to the occasion, forcing UCSD to shoot 34 percent from the field, but the game was still closely fought with 11 ties and 14 lead changes. Three Sea Warriors ended with double figures, led by Ryan Walker, who racked up 12 points. Clint Allard led UCSD with 12 points.

At home, HPU faced 16th-ranked Seattle University on Dec. 14 at King Intermediate. The unranked Sea Warriors came close to upsetting the Redhawks, but ultimately lost, 53-50. The two teams exchanged baskets in the first half, but HPU stole the momentum in the second half with eight consecutive points scored by Patrick Towne. The Redhawks responded with a 12-3 run of their own, and Sea Warrior fouls and turnovers resulted in the Redhawks win. Alborz shot a game-high 14 points for HPU. Sam Kirby and Leigh Swanson led Seattle with 11 points each.

The Sea Warriors rebounded with an overtime victory against the University of Arkansas-Monticello, 84-75, in the first game of the Hoop-N-Surf Tournament on Dec. 19. The HPU offense came alive in the second half, shooting 50 percent from the field and hitting 16 of 19 free throws in the game. Alborz led the Sea Warriors with 20 points, Walker hit a career-best 17 points, and Wolf put away 14 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Nate Newall scored a game-high 26 points for the Weevils, including the long distance three-pointer at the buzzer that forced the teams into overtime.
HPU returned to the court the following day against Harding University to beat the Bisons, 67-65. Towne led the Sea Warriors with 16 points, and Lee contributed all around, with 10 points, seven rebounds, three assists, and three steals. The Sea Warriors defense forced 20 turnovers and grabbed a season-high 11 steals.

Returning from their holiday break, the Sea Warriors struggled in their last preseason game on Dec. 29 against the University of Indianapolis, which edged past them 70-66. HPU started the game on a good note, shooting 67 percent in the first half compared to 30 percent by the Greyhounds. The Sea Warriors continued to dominate in the second half with a 7-0 run, but the Greyhounds out-rebounded HPU, 38-28, which helped them come back. Lee produced a career-high 26 points and four rebounds.

The Sea Warriors fell short in their conference opener on Jan. 3 against Grand Canyon University, 54-49, at the Neal Blaisdell Center. The HPU basketball team had a sluggish start, trailing 10-0 in the first half of the game, but Lee brought HPU back into the game scoring 10 consecutive points. In the second half, the game remained close with the teams tied at 40-40, but the Antelopes pulled away with a 10-2 run.

 

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