Hawaii jumped on a short-handed Cal team on Friday as the Rainbow Warriors picked up a 77-66 upset win over the No. 4 seed in the South Region in Spokane. The win is the first NCAA tournament win for Hawaii as they’re making the program’s first appearance since 2002.
During the week, the Golden Bears had to deal with the sudden firing of an assistant coach over troubling sexual harassment allegations and the team’s starting point guard, senior Tyrone Wallace, broke his hand during practice on Wednesday and was out for the game. Things got worse for Cal when they also had to play without junior wing Jabari Bird, who was dealing with back spasms before the NCAA tournament game on Friday.
From there, Hawaii struck early and held momentum for most of the game. Despite both teams battling foul problems, the Rainbow Warriors (28-5) had a balanced effort and forced 16 Cal turnovers.
Senior guard Quincy Smith hit a variety of runners and floaters to finish with 18 points while Roderick Bobbitt added 17 points. Center Stefan Jankovic battled foul trouble, but still finished with 16 points. Using a zone in the second half, Hawaii’s defense was able to hold the lead as they were able to withstand the foul problems of Jankovic and Aaron Valdes.
Cal (23-11) didn’t do a great job of adjusting to the officiating as Jaylen Brown fouled out with six minutes left in the second half. The Pac-12 Freshman of the Year was held to four points, one rebound and seven turnovers. Jordan Mathews finished with 23 points while freshman Ivan Rabb had 13 points and 12 rebounds and Sam Singer chipped in 12 points and five assists.
With Wallace, and potentially Brown and Rabb, departing from this Cal team, it’ll be interesting to see how this roster looks entering next season. There is still plenty of talent around, but the go-to player could be uncertain. This was Cal’s first NCAA tournament appearance since 2013.
Hawaii will face the winner of No. 5 seed Maryland and No. 12 seed South Dakota State on Sunday in Spokane.