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Hawaii 5-0

The Hawaii basketball team can now give thanks.

The Warriors played without their leading scorer, had their worst shooting night of the season, and still found a way to win on Wednesday night.

Hawaii improved to 5-0 under first-year head coach Gib Arnold after a tougher-than-expected 70-63 victory over Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

A crowd of 4,117 at the Stan Sheriff Center watched the Warriors rally from a nine-point deficit in the first half before overpowering the Golden Lions.

“I think this team still has a long, long way to go,” Arnold said. “I think we’re just starting to do some things that are positive. Obviously winning is very positive and we never want to underestimate the beauty of winning. But we have to get better in a lot of aspects of the game.”

Regardless of how it happened, the 5-0 start is a rare sign of beauty for Hawaii basketball. In the last 35 years, only three other Hawaii teams have opened a season with five consecutive wins (1975, 1997 and 2004).

The latest victory came in workman-like fashion, as the Warriors had to fend off the scrappy Golden Lions for the full 40 minutes.

Joston Thomas and Zane Johnson led the offense with 16 points each, and Hiram Thompson added 15. Bo Barnes scored nine on three 3-pointers.

But sophomore center Vander Joaquim received the most post-game praise for his five points and 16 rebounds.

“I never got 16 rebounds before,” he said. “Even in junior college, when I was playing with smaller guys.”

Led by Joaquim, the Warriors out-rebounded the shorter Golden Lions, 40-28. “Vander was great on the boards,” Arnold said. “For a young guy in his fifth game of his college career to come in and get 16 boards, I was very happy.”

Thomas, who added six rebounds, said: “He went and got every board that came off the rim.”

The Warriors would need every one, as they shot just 40.4 percent from the field.

“We played unselfishly, we did play together, (but) we didn’t shoot the ball well tonight,” Arnold said. “We have guys that can shoot it and we didn’t shoot it like we have been in the past, and that hurt us, especially early.”

Hawaii played without injured senior forward Bill Amis, who leads the team in scoring and rebounding. It took the Warriors a while to adjust without him.

UAPB controlled most of the first half, and had a 28-19 lead with 2:40 remaining in the half. But the Warriors went on a 10-4 surge just before intermission. Bo Barnes drained a 3-pointer just before intermission to cut UAPB’s lead to 32-29 at halftime.

“I thought we started slow, and maybe were looking around a little bit to see how we were going to do this,” Arnold said. “I think they figured it out with about five minutes left in the first half, and I thought from there on out we played some pretty good basketball.”

Hawaii took the lead for good less than five minutes into the second half, then held off the Golden Lions down the stretch.

“We didn’t have all the emotion that we normally have going into this game as we did the last four, so it was hard for us to get in a rhythm,” Thomas said. “At one point, we felt like they were out-playing us in our house, and we’re not having that. So we just brought it together as a team and we just said we have to cease this.”

In addition to rebounding, the other key statistic was free throws. Hawaii went 25 of 34 from the line, while UAPB went 10 for 15.

“That’s a great stat,” Arnold said of his team making more free throws than the opponent attempted. “It’s a great indicator of, if you’re going inside, if you’re taking good shots.”

UAPB dropped to 0-5, but this was their closest loss of the season. The Golden Lions lost their previous four games (all on the road) by an average of 35.8 points per game.

“They were scratching and biting – I got bit on my elbow,” Thomas said. “They wanted to play. If it takes me getting bit on my elbow 15 times a game for us to come out with that victory, I’m with it.”

Savalace Townsend led UAPB with 25 points, and Gavin Montgomery added 16.

The Warriors will make their first road trip of the season next week. Their next games are at Cal Poly on Dec. 1, then at Brigham Young on Dec. 4.

“That’s a whole other test,” Arnold said. “We’re going to be tested that week and I’m looking forward to see how we compete and how we do.”

(Photos by Brandon Flores)

5 Comments

  1. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

    Thank you for visiting http://www.warriorinsider.com.

  2. Dayton, mahalo again for the work you put into this site. For us hardcore UH basketball fans it’s great to visit every day and read the updates and watch the videos. The player interviews really personalize the team and give us even more reason to cheer for them.

    Have a great holiday!

  3. happy thanksgiving everyone!

    thanks dayton and company.

  4. Like the fact that the players are thanking everybody after the game, especially the students that showed up last night, this is great, connecting with the fans .!!Happy Thanksgiving, Gib and Company!

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