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Three WAC wins in a row for Warriors

The key to defending home court is … defense.

The Hawaii basketball team proved it with a gritty 67-61 victory over San Jose State on Saturday night at the Stan Sheriff Center.

San Jose State had its worst shooting game of the season, and was held 13 points below its average by a hustling Hawaii defense.

“Pleased with the overall effort of everyone that came into the game today,” Hawaii head coach Gib Arnold said. “I thought the guys played their hearts out, which makes me so happy, win or lose.

“Couldn’t be happier with just how everybody played together. That’s a really good win for us.”

Hawaii improved to 12-8 overall and 3-5 in the Western Athletic Conference with its third straight WAC win. San Jose State dropped to 9-9 overall and 1-6 in the WAC.

Forwards Bill Amis and Joston Thomas led the way. Amis finished with 20 points on 9-of-11 shooting, and grabbed nine rebounds and blocked four shots.

“I think Bill’s got the rust off,” Arnold said, referring to Amis’s return from a foot injury two weeks ago.

Thomas added 14 points and 14 rebounds in what Arnold described as “the best game of his college career.”

Thomas said: “I think the big part of it is we’re a team.”

Amis added: “Yeah, we find each other in the right spots, honestly. I can credit my teammates all day. They found me in the right spots.”

They also played team defense in holding the Spartans to a .311 field goal percentage. The Spartans entered the game averaging 74.6 points per game, and the 61 was its second-lowest total this season.

“I’d like to say it was a great game plan and technical Xs and Os, but it was just great effort,” Arnold said.

A notable performance was turned in by junior Zane Johnson, who struggled on offense but made up for it with defense. He was primarily responsible for defending San Jose State start guard Adrian Oliver, who entered the game ranked third in the nation with 24.2 points per game.

Oliver had his worst game of this season, finishing with 10 points on 4-of-11 shooting. He scored just one point in the first half and went 0 for 5 from the field. It should be noted, however, that Oliver missed the previous two games with concussion-like symptoms.

“I think Zane struggled a little bit offensively, but defensively did a great job on the third-leading scorer in the country,” Arnold said. “Give credit where credit is due, and Zane guarded him.”

Johnson finished with eight points on 3-of-14 shooting. However, five of his points came during an 11-1 run that gave Hawaii a 31-21 lead late in the first half. It would be a lead the Warriors would not relinquish, although they could never pull away from the Spartans.

San Jose State got as close as one point in the second half, but could never overtake the Warriors. Hawaii maintained the lead with a variety of hustle plays from various players.

Among them: Hiram Thompson chased down a long rebound and punched the ball into the air to an open Thomas who took it in for a fastbreak dunk; Trevor Wiseman saved a loose ball from going out of bounds, then scored on a putback; Thomas slammed home a miss by teammate Vander Joaquim.

“That’s just regular basketball for us,” Thomas said. “That’s how we play.”

Amis added: “That’s our identity – to play hard. We got away from it for a little while, but that’s what we try to do, work hard and get all the hustle plays.”

San Jose State cut the Hawaii lead to 53-52 with 6:53 remaining, but Amis responded with a jump shot to spark an 8-1 surge that put Hawaii in control for good at 61-53.

With Oliver struggling, Justin Graham kept San Jose State close with 20 points, six rebounds and four assists. Freshman guard Keith Shamburger — who was recruited by Hawaii — added 12 points.

After opening WAC play with five consecutive losses, the Warriors have now won three in a row. The only WAC team with a longer streak is first-place Utah State, which is 7-0 in the conference.

The Warriors will host Utah State in their next game, Jan. 29 at the Sheriff Center.

“I think if you’re any kind of a basketball fan, or a Warrior fan, you gotta be kind of excited about this upcoming game,” Arnold said. “We’re looking forward to it.”

5 Comments

  1. Awesome win! They’re looking more like the team that played their hearts out against Utah St. Hope the home court advantage can carry them to a win Saturday.

  2. What happened to Bobby Miles?

  3. Great win. It looks like different guys are stepping up to take charge. Let’s keep it going guys.
    Go Warriors………..or is it ‘Bows? Whatever. Just keep it up.

  4. Yep, great win by the Bow Warriors! As for Bobby Miles, I’m guessing he’s dropped to 3rd on the PG depth chart..

  5. Letʻs remember Miles is 18 years old. Plenty of time to help us. Weʻre coming off of three years of turmoil, so we have a warped sense of development for freshman. Itʻs not like we can sign, say, Tyreke Evans, and hope he carries us. We need to understand the landscape of college recruitment. Under the circumstances, Miles is a STEAL (no pun intended). Weʻre so used to jc transfers or Euroʻs coming to the rescue.
    Let this team take itʻs natural path. Let Arnold mix the kava for a year or two. Heʻs already brought in more talent in one year than Jackson Wheeler did in three.

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