The Rainbow Warriors shot just 39.6 percent from the field, including a 4-of-17 performance beyond the 3-point arc. The loss was just the third in the last 34 games at the Sheriff Center for the 'Bows, who suffered its sixth season opening loss under head coach Riley Wallace.
UH was led by senior forward Phil MartinM/biolink>'s 12 points on 6-of-11 shooting. Martin began the new season with his 71st consecutive start dating back to the 2000-01 season. Newcomer Julian Sensley added 10 points and seven rebounds. Senior Michael Kuebler was held to just five points and made just one of six 3-point attempts.
The UH starting lineup included returning starters, Martin and Kuebler, and three players who were making their first career starts (Sensley, Jason Carter, and Paul Jesinskis). Of the 12 active players on the roster, 11 played including freshman Bobby Nash, who chipped in with six points and three rebounds.
The Broncos opened the game with a 5-0 run. Kuebler's only trey gave UH its first lead at 10-9. Nash hit his first shot as a 'Bow with 2:05 remaining in the first half, giving UH a 21-20 lead. Hawai'i extended its lead to 25-20 on a Sensley lay-up just before intermission.
Consecutive Peciukas lay-ups gave UH a 42-37 advantage at the halfway point of the second half. Martin's baseline jumper at the 7:49, which gave the 'Bows a 44-41 lead was the team's only bucket until Carter's two free throws with 2:58 remaining. During that span, the Gauchos turned a three-point deficit into a seven point lead.
With the 'Bows trailing 51-46, the Gauchos turned the ball over on its next possession but Kuebler missed the front end of a one-on-one with just over 2:00 to play. UCSB then converted on its final six free throws to seal the game.
UH will next participate in the EA Sports Maui Invitational beginning Monday. The 'Bows open the eight-team tournament against Santa Clara. Tip off is set for 6:30 p.m. at the Lahaina Civic Center. The game will be televised live on ESPN2.