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Warriors edge Chippewas to win Rainbow Classic

The reawakening of the Hawaii basketball team continued in the dark of night — in front of a national television audience and 3,000 raucous fans in the Stan Sheriff Center.

The Warriors won the Outrigger Hotels Rainbow Classic with a 65-62 victory over Central Michigan in a game that started at 11 p.m. Monday night and finished after 1 a.m. Tuesday morning.

It was also game that was equal parts gritty, sloppy and exciting.

“It’s special, it’s nice,” Hawaii head coach Gib Arnold said. “We talk about winning championships. That’s something we talk about every day and we were able tonight to get the trophy and say we are champions.”

The Warriors improved to 3-0 under first-year coach Arnold, winning the four-team, three-night Rainbow Classic. The last time a Hawaii team opened the season 3-0 was in 2004.

“It feels great to go 3-0 to start off the season,” senior point guard Hiram Thompson said. “Our confidence is high. We’re ready to get going (with the next game) on Friday.”

Thompson was awarded the tournament’s Most Valuable Player trophy. He scored 15 points in the championship game, shooting 4 of 5 from the field and 6 of 6 from the free-throw line. He averaged 18.0 points and 4.0 assists in the three games in the tournament.

Senior forward Bill Amis led the way against the Chippewas with 17 points and eight rebounds. He averaged 16.0 points and 8.0 rebounds per game during the Classic, and was named to the All-Tournament Team.

“I’ve never won the Rainbow Classic, so it felt good to win that,” Amis said. “Central Michigan’s a really good team. They battled with us the whole game. It got kind of feisty out there and we had a lot of fun.”

Joston Thomas added 14 points and five rebounds, and Zane Johnson contributed 13 points for the Warriors. Freshman Bo Barnes was limited to two points, but was still named to the All-Tournament team after scoring 19 points in each of the first two games of the Rainbow Classic.

“A lot of guys stepped up, and that’s what you need to do to win,” Thompson said. “Team effort.”

The lead was exchanged 11 times during the game, and it was also tied seven different times.

Central Michigan’s last lead was at 59-58 with 4:06 remaining. But Hawaii regained the lead for good moments later when Zane Johnson hit an off-balance jump shot to put the Warriors ahead, 60-59.

The final three minutes were nail-biters as Hawaii went 5 of 8 from the free-throw line and committed two turnovers. With Hawaii holding a 63-61 lead with 45 seconds left, Thompson committed a turnover in the backcourt, then was assessed an intentional foul for grabbing the jersey of Central Michigan’s Derek Jackson.

“I felt like I almost lost it, gave the game up for the team,” Thompson said.

However, the Chippewas could not take advantage. Jackson made just one of two free throws, and then Trey Zeigler missed a jump shot, allowing Hawaii to maintain the lead at 63-62.

Zane Johnson then hit one of two free throws with 6 seconds left, and Joston Thomas also went one of two from the line with 4 seconds left for the final margin.

The Warriors finished with a solid 53.8 field goal percentage, but their 20 turnovers allowed Central Michigan to stay close.

“I’ll win ugly any day. I hope we’re the ugliest winning team in America,” Arnold said. “Sometimes you gotta win ugly and not be afraid to do that.”

Arnold noted that the Warriors employed a zone defense for most of the game, mostly because the Chippewas were stronger and quicker. As a result, Central Michigan shot just 38.2 percent from the field, and Hawaii won the rebounding battle, 28-23.

“We aren’t a zone team and we zoned tonight,” Arnold said. “We just had to. And they were an outstanding defensive team and got in us. We weren’t able to get open on the wings so we didn’t get as many 3s or fast-break points as we wanted to … we just had to keep grinding away.”

Arnold also noted that the “Blackout” crowd in the Sheriff Center was small but effective.

“When we really needed them, they gave us that extra energy,” he said. “It got really loud in there and to come out all dressed in black … I don’t think we win the game, I really don’t, without that crowd tonight.”

The unusual time of the game accommodated ESPN’s College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon – 24 consecutive hours of NCAA basketball coverage. The Warriors unveiled new black jerseys and shoes for the game.

A curious call came early in the second half, after it appeared Zane Johnson and a Central Michigan player got tangled and exchanged words. Thompson, however, was assessed the technical foul instead of Johnson, even after officials reviewed replays.

“I have no idea; I honestly don’t know,” Thompson said. “(Johnson) told me ‘that was my first technical in my life’ and I was like ‘no, that was my first technical you got for me.’ ”

Trey Ziegler led Central Michigan with 24 points, while William McClure added 14. The Chippewas went 1-2 in the Rainbow Classic and finished in third place.

Montana State (2-1) placed second, and Cal State Fullerton (0-3) was fourth.

Hawaii’s next game is Friday against Central Arkansas at 7:30 p.m. in the Stan Sheriff Center.

11 Comments

  1. An ugly, ugly game by both teams and even uglier by the referees. The referees did one of the worst jobs I have ever seen missing tons of calls and making tons of miscalls on both sides of the floor. I think the technical call epitomized how terrible the officiating was. Obviously I cannot say for sure, but I think one of the referees simply heard something, and not knowing who said it, assigned it to Hiram. Knowing Hiram, you know it wasn’t he who said it but probably Zane, who really has a fiery temper. The cardinal rule for officiating is don’t guess who commits a foul, and these referees were guessing all night.

    Fans can revel in the win, but this game did not look like a game between two well-coached teams. It looked like a game by two poorly coached teams – or to be charitable, two teams very early in their development.

  2. I completely agree about the refereeing, but have to disagree about the coaching. I don’t think that it is too charitable to say that these are “two teams very early in their development”. Just look at the rosters, and who was out on the floor! Both teams had freshmen (true freshmen, not redshirts) and players brand new to their respective systems playing major minutes. That is bound to lead to some sloppiness. Schemes and strategy did not appear to be an issue, at least not from my perspective. All in all it was a scrappy, fun to watch game. That type of effort, even without perfect execution, is bound to win fans over.

  3. Anytime you face a team that plays as physical as Central Michigan, the game and the refereeing can get really “ugly” which is exactly what happened. Despite that it was good that we were able to grind out a win.

  4. A win is a win is a win..

    However, one area of possible concern down the line is Barnes’ ability to get open. With defenses realizing how good a shooter he is and keying in on him, maybe Gib should have set picks and double picks to free him up.

    But that could be nitpicking considering I can’t even remember the last time a Hawaii team started a season 3 and 0.. Probably when Savo was still around.. Did Nash even win 3 consecutive games as coach?

  5. This midnight time slot game is always the most exciting game of the year! How can we emulate the excitement and fan base every game….the student sections are always awesome at these games.

    As for the team, things are definitely looking up and so glad to see the optimism, hope and potential ahead. After the game, the only chatter I was hearing was about why Hiram was back in the game after Miles had been playing well. Tough decision for Coach, but I think it comes down to the analogy of the Quarterback….at the peak of battle/final drive, ya gotta bring your 6th year, returning starter PG back in the game to quarterback and lead the charge for the closeout. It sets the tone for the year and gives the confidence nod to your PG that will be there in March for you. Obviously it almost backfired…but at the end of the day, if the main thing we are complaining about is whether it should be Hiram, Miles, or Salter at point….we are good shape.

    Keep the W’s coming bows and the bandwagon fans will start coming out of their hiding place. Mahalo to all the loyal fans that continue to support and keep the dream alive. Go Warriors!

  6. Still working out lineups/personnel etc. Wʻs/Lʻs are not only measurement for progress; key is to find identity and establish roles going into WAC schedule. Still waiting for Salters and Brumfield to enter the fold. Hard, though, not to get a little giddy thinking about all the possible lineups and looks we can give, the versatility of the roster, a bench, recruits…a real life program.

  7. Wow. What a game! It was physical and fast paced which I thought made it more exciting. The blackout made it look good for UH. The crowd did a good job cheering for Hawaii. 3-0, pretty darn good start. Go Hawaii!

  8. There will be a lot of “ugly” games we will win this year….Why?

    Because we “D” it up…Our guys have shown that if we make mistakes, we make it going all out, our effort is contagious and I can’t recall the last time we had balanced scoring like this. These are all signs we are playing team ball and our whole team is giving all they got….Honest efforts every night.

    I’ll watch these guys all day….Love our young talent, love our coaches demeanor during the game and I love the adjustments we make during the game and coming out the half. GA knows what he’s doing…With time he’ll bring in his own guys and mark my words, when the time comes we will have to open our pockets and not be manini otherwise it’s JJ part two…

    IMO the unsung heroes of the team right now is Wiseman and Miles…Wiseman is one fearless SOB under the boards and on “D”, Miles is fluid and plays above his years. he brings a different but quality element when he comes in the game…

  9. GO WARRIORS…what a way to start…YEAH!!!

  10. Last in the WAC? Don’t think so…

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