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Hawaii now 2-0 after late defensive stand

A strong finish against Cal State Fullerton kept the strong start to the season going for the Hawaii basketball team on Saturday night.

The Warriors ended the game with a 14-0 run in an 84-70 victory over the Titans on the second night of the Outrigger Hotels Rainbow Classic at the Stan Sheriff Center.

Hawaii improved to 2-0 under first-year head coach Gib Arnold, and will play Central Michigan on Monday night with the championship of the Rainbow Classic at stake.

“Most of all, pleased with how we ended the game,” Arnold said. “I think it was tied at 70 with about four minutes to go and guys locked in and held them scoreless … as a coach that gets you pretty excited because you win games on the defensive side.”

Senior forward Bill Amis had perhaps his best game in a Hawaii uniform, tallying 24 points, nine rebounds, three blocked shots and three steals. He shot 10 of 13 from the field and 4 of 5 on free throws.

“It feels good,” Amis said. “I haven’t really had a rhythm lately, so it feels good to finally get in rhythm.”

Arnold said: “I had no idea until I saw the stat sheet. I wasn’t aware because he’s such a consistent player anyway. To see he was one rebound shy of a double-double, that was nice.”

Freshman shooting guard Bo Barnes continued his hot shooting streak to open the season. He contributed 19 points, including 5 of 9 shooting from 3-point range. In the first two games of this season, Barnes has 10 3s.

Senior point guard Hiram Thompson added 18 points, seven assists and just one turnover. He scored nine points – including 6 of 6 free throws – during the 14-0 run to close the game.

“It was tied up with three minutes and we had that timeout and Coach said let’s go, this is our time – win on the defensive end,” Thompson said. “Even though we knocked down shots at the end of the game, we really won it on the defensive end.”

Hawaii had a 70-68 lead with 3:39 remaining, when Arnold instructed his players during a timeout: “Don’t let them score again.”

The Titans would make two free throws to tie the score, but then went 0 for 7 from the field to end the game.

“I should have told them that earlier,” Arnold said with a laugh. “They listened. Guys did a real nice job responding.”

The shorter Cal State Fullerton team – the Titans did not have any players taller than 6 feet 7 – tried to stay in the game by launching 3-pointers and using a zone defense against the Warriors.

“Even though it wasn’t pretty and it was the first time getting zoned against a team that was actually kind of a matchup problem for us with their quickness and all their guys being able to shoot, we were able to grind out a win,” Arnold said.

The Titans attempted 62 total shots, and 32 came from 3-point range. They made nine, but went just 3 of 15 from beyond the arc in the second half.

Hawaii countered by going 10 for 24 from 3-point range for 41.7 percent.

“The one thing you don’t want to do against a zone, even though we have great shooters on the wings, is just start shooting 3s … that can lead to long rebounds and they’ll be shooting layups,” Arnold said. “So for us to get zoned basically the entire night and shoot only 24 3s and shoot it at a high percentage, I was pleased with that.”

Junior guard Zane Johnson, who was held scoreless in the season opener, bounced back to score 13 points against the Titans. He made three 3-pointers, and went 4 for 4 on free throws.

Orane Chin, a 6-7 junior forward, finished with 27 points for Cal State Fulleton, which dropped to 0-2.

Hawaii will next host Central Michigan at 11 p.m. on Monday at the Stan Sheriff Center. The late-night start will be part of ESPN’s 24-hour coverage of basketball games that day.

Montana State defeated Central Michigan, 65-58, in Saturday’s late game.

[Photo: Brandon Flores]

3 Comments

  1. another nice win. great start for the rainbow warriors.

    this coming from a team who only had two guys who played in d1 ball last year, that being hiram and kurtz. i would say that the team is ahead of schedule. it is a tribute to gibber and staff and the team’s buying in to the philosophy and giving a great effort towards those goals..

  2. What a fun team to watch. I know it’s early, but you can sense something special is happening.

  3. The players seem to be playing with a lot of energy. Attitude. Attitude. Attitude!!!

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