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Updated: Warriors win on Maui

WAILUKU, Maui – The Hawaii basketball team didn’t exactly have its no ka oi game, but considering that it was on Maui and it resulted in a victory, the Warriors will take it.

Hawaii struggled with its shooting and committed too many turnovers, but still came away with a 65-57 win over North Carolina A&T on Sunday evening.

An energetic crowd of 1,412 at War Memorial Gymnasium watched the Warriors improve to 5-4 with their third consecutive victory, including the last two on Neighbor Islands. On Friday, Hawaii defeated Hawaii-Hilo on the Big Island.

In both Neighbor Island wins, the Warriors relied on second-half surges. This time, a 12-0 run late in the second half allowed Hawaii to pull away from the scrappy Aggies.

“It wasn’t the prettiest of ball games,” Hawaii head coach Gib Arnold said. “We turned the ball over too much and didn’t shoot a great percentage. But defensively we were good and we played together and were able to pull out a victory in a new place in a new gym and so I’m proud of the guys.”

Freshman point guard Shaquille Stokes led the Warriors with 19 points, including 15 in the decisive second half. He scored five during the 12-0 surge that turned a tenuous 49-48 lead into a more-comfortable 61-48 advantage with 3:23 remaining.

“It’s still a win. We’re going to take an ugly win,” Stokes said. “We’re still growing as a team … we’re still young. We’ll get better and overcome.”

Junior center Vander Joaquim contributed 16 points and seven rebounds. He shot 6 of 9 from the field, 4 of 4 on free throws, and led the Warriors to a 38-29 advantage in rebounds.

Senior guard Zane Johnson continued to struggle with his 3-point shot, but still managed to score 13 points. He went 2 of 10 from the field, including 2 of 7 from 3-point range, but converted 7 of 7 free throws.

“It’s tough, that happens some games,” Johnson said. “The good thing is we were able to fight back and pull away at the end. That’s what we’ve been doing the past couple games. We don’t want to do that. Trust me, we want to blow them out from the beginning. But a win’s a win and we have to just keep getting better.”

Sophomore forward Trevor Wiseman added six points and six rebounds, and sophomore forward Davis Rozitis had four points and four rebounds.

Hawaii built a 22-13 lead midway through the first half, and eventually took a 35-30 lead at halftime. But the Aggies scored the first six points of the second half to take a momentary 36-35 lead, and the game stayed close after that.

“Give North Carolina A&T a lot of credit,” Arnold said. “I thought we had them down two or three or four different times where we could have gone from 10 or 12 (ahead) to 20 real quick and they kept hanging around.”

North Carolina A&T had a 43-42 lead with 11:25 remaining, but Stokes hit a 3-pointer on Hawaii’s next possession to put the Warriors up for good at 45-43.
Hawaii seized control with the 12-0 surge, and then fended off the Aggies, who kept firing until the final horn.

“It’s a great atmosphere – super loud and they’re all on our side,” Johnson said of the crowd. “It was a great experience. I wish we could do it more.”

Arnold added on the Maui crowd: “It was a good atmosphere. I could barely hear myself in some of the huddles and they helped us out.”

The Warriors shot 38.3 percent from the field for the game, despite shooting 55.6 percent in the first half. Hawaii also committed 22 turnovers, which led directly to 22 points for the Aggies.

However, Hawaii held North Carolina A&T to 37.7 percent shooting, and the Aggies also committed 22 turnovers.

Marc Hill led the Aggies with 17 points. Nic Simpson, the team’s leading scorer at 10.7 points per game, did not play due to an injury. North Carolna A&T dropped to 4-8, with all eight losses on the road.

The Warriors were scheduled to return to Honolulu after the game to prepare for the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic later this week. Hawaii will open the eight-team, three-day tournament against Auburn on Thursday, December 22.

1 Comment

  1. Those Maui guys…………they’re terrific fans. They sure were loud. Let’s hope for more positive consistency in the upcoming tournament.

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