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Warriors clinch winning season

What’s the best thing to do when you’re on a hot streak? Book a trip to Vegas.

The Hawaii basketball team can do just that after a convincing 71-58 victory over Louisiana Tech on Thursday night at the Stan Sheriff Center.

With the win, the Warriors are assured one of the eight available spots in the Western Athletic Conference Tournament at Las Vegas in March.

Hawaii, which is now in sixth place in the WAC, has won seven of its last nine games, and have three more regular-season games to determine its seeding position for the tournament.

Hawaii, which improved to 16-10 overall and 6-7 in the WAC, also is assured of a winning season for the first time since the 2006-07 season.

“That was fun, that was a good win for us,” Hawaii head coach Gib Arnold said. “I’m pleased with how everybody played.

“Pleased as can be for the seniors. This ensures that we have a postseason and ensures that they leave as winners, on a winning team.”

Bill Amis, one of the three seniors on the Hawaii roster, led the way with 18 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field and 6-of-7 from the free-throw line. He has been with the program since the 2007-08 season, including last season’s team that did not qualify for the WAC Tournament.

“Feels real good,” Amis said of the assured winning season. “Haven’t felt this yet.”

Zane Johnson added 16 points, Miah Ostrowski finished with 12 points and seven assists, and Vander Joaquim contributed 11 points and nine rebounds for the Warriors.

“We played hard the whole night, it was probably one of the best executed games we’ve had,” Amis said.

Ostrowski added: “We just wanted to come out there and be patient when we had to and run when we had to … we got to pick and choose what we did and we executed real well throughout the game.”

Indeed, the game was never close. Hawaii opened the game with a 17-4 lead and never looked back.

Ostrowski drained two 3-pointers in the final minute of the first half to give the Warriors a 41-22 lead at intermission.

“We had two defensive lapses in 20 minutes (in the first half),” Arnold said. “That’s pretty good if you have only two mistakes in 20 minutes. Offensively, I know we were moving the ball well and it was going inside-out. We had a good mix.”

Hawaii increased the lead to as many as 25 early in the second half, allowing the reserves to see action in the closing minutes. All 10 Hawaii players in uniform saw at least four minutes of action.

“I was able to rest guys that play a lot of minutes, and that’s important at this time of year, especially,” Arnold said.

The Warriors shot 50 percent from the field (22 of 44) and 70 percent on free throws (21 of 30), and out-rebounded the Bulldogs 33-28.

LaTech shot just 37.3 percent from the field, including 26.3 percent (5 of 19) from 3-point range. LaTech’s top player in uniform – forward Olu Ashaolu – was limited to nine points and four rebounds in 19 minutes before fouling out. He entered the game averaging 14.6 points and 9.7 rebounds per game.

“Coach said the only way we’re going to lose is if he goes off,” said Amis, who defended Ashaolu for most of the game. “He got going early in the game and we had to step up defensively on him.

The Bulldogs played without leading scorer DeAndre Brown, who is on an indefinite suspension. LaTech dropped to 12-17 overall and 2-11 in the WAC.

Hawaii sophomore forward Joston Thomas scored two points in 10 minutes off the bench. He missed the last game for personal reasons.

Starting point guard Hiram Thompson missed his second consecutive game due to an elbow injury.

The Warriors will play their home finale on Saturday night against New Mexico State. After the game, seniors Amis, Thompson and Douglas Kurtz will be honored.

Photos by Brandon Flores. To view more photos and purchase copies, please visit www.brandonfloresphotography.com

2 Comments

  1. The best time for the boys to be playing their best basketball of the season. If they play this well in the WAC tourney they should have a good shot at making it all the way. Congrats to the team and hope Hyrum recovers quickly and Amis doesn’t have a serious injury.

  2. Good job to Coach Arnold and his team for clinching a WAC Tournament berth. A winning season.:) Who would have thought it after all the challenges starting off the season.

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