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Back at home, back on track

With an emphasis on the big, the Hawaii basketball team looked like a big brother in a 72-50 victory over Hawaii Pacific on Saturday night.

The Warriors relied on their size advantage to wear down the NCAA Division II Sea Warriors before a crowd of around 3,500 at the Stan Sheriff Center.

Hawaii improved to 6-2, including 6-0 in the Sheriff Center. HPU, which was playing for the third time in three nights, dropped to 3-6.

“That was one of the keys, we wanted to score it inside, and we had 32 points in the paint, which is great if you can do that,” Hawaii head coach Gib Arnold said. “We hit the boards really, really well. You would hope that over time, you would continually wear them down a little bit. Our guys didn’t let up and all of a sudden the shots started falling. Because we were doing a good job inside, we were left pretty open on the outside.”

Zane Johnson led the Warriors with 18 points on 6-of-9 shooting from 3-point range. Hiram Thompson added 15 points, Vander Joaquim scored 10 on 4-of-4 shooting, Bobby Miles had nine points and six assists, and Douglas Kurtz contributed eight points and 12 rebounds.

Led by the 7-foot Kurtz and 6-10 Joaquim, the Warriors out-rebounded HPU 51-34, and out-scored the Sea Warriors “in the paint” 32-12.

“I’ve been waiting to get some more time on the floor and tonight was a good chance for it,” Kurtz said. “Every game we had this year so far, we’ve always been bigger … that was just a good opportunity.”

HPU basically had two post players – 6-9 Adrian den Dulk and 6-8 Jason Jackson. The other nine players who saw action for the Sea Warriors were wing players, and all of them were 6-6 or shorter.

Johnson, at 6-6, was often matched up against one of HPU’s 6-2 guards. As a result, Johnson grabbed nine rebounds, and said that helped him find his shooting rhythm.

“Once I was able to grab a couple rebounds, the floor opens up it seems like, and I was getting in rhythm,” he said.

Hawaii opened the game with an 8-0 lead, but HPU rallied to take a 14-13 lead. The game stayed close for most of the first half, before Johnson drained three 3-pointers in the final 1:18 of the half, including one just before the buzzer to give the Warriors a 37-26 lead at intermission.

“I was just running the floor hard, and luckily I got open and my teammates made some good passes to find me,” Johnson said.

Hawaii opened the second half with a 9-0 run to turn it into a blowout. The Warriors led by as many as 27 in the second half, and the final margin of 22 represented the largest win of the season.

“Really pleased with the effort of the team, especially how we started each half,” Arnold said. “I think that’s how we have to start games, and start halves, especially on the defensive side.”

Due to the recent departures of reserve guards Jordan Coleman and Anthony Salter, and an injury to starting forward Bill Amis, the Warriors had just nine players in uniform against HPU. All nine saw action, with every Warrior grabbing at least one rebound.

The short roster prompted Arnold to try different lineups. For example, the team’s two point guards – Thompson and Miles – started together in the backcourt. They combined for 24 points, nine assists and one turnover.

“Very pleased with the point guard assist-to-turnover ratio,” Arnold said. “I love the fact that those guys can push it … I like two point guards out there. I think they played really well together tonight.”

Kyle Allen led HPU with 15 points and six rebounds, while Jason Jackson added 14 points and six rebounds. HPU’s leading scorer, Nick Frazier, scored just two points on 1-of-10 shooting.

“One of the things we wanted to do was lock him up and the guys did a great job,” Arnold said.

Although Hawaii and HPU are separated by just four miles, this was only the second time the teams have met. The last time the teams played was in 1985, when Frank Arnold – Gib’s father – was head coach at UH.

AMIS UPDATE

Bill Amis has missed the last four games with a stress fracture in his right foot, but he could be back on the court soon, according to Arnold.

Amis, a 6-9 senior, averaged 15.8 points and 6.8 rebounds through the first four games before the injury. Arnold said Amis was finally able to do some light workouts recently.

If the progress continues, Arnold said Amis may even be able to play a few minutes in Hawaii’s next game against Chicago State on Dec. 17.

“He had his best workout today,” Arnold said. “He was able to get some shots up without the boot. We’re optimistic … even optimistic enough for maybe even Chicago State.

“If the doctors clear him, we’ll probably give him a few minutes there, and then have him (play) a little more minutes in the Diamond Head (Classic), and have him ready by WAC. Most importantly is we want him back by the WAC.”

(Photos by Brandon Flores)

1 Comment

  1. Congratulations on a great showing last night! Nothing like being at home to get your confidence back. Best of luck the rest of the season! Great job coach Gib!

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