UPDATED: Warriors tame Lions with team approach
A classic effort on both ends of the court put the Hawai’i basketball team in position to win the championship of the season-opening Outrigger Hotels and Resorts Rainbow Classic.
The Warriors relied on a balanced offense and a staunch defense to defeat Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 81-54, on the second night of the Rainbow Classic. A Sunday early-evening crowd of 5,339 at the Stan Sheriff Center watched the Warriors improve to 2-0 with the win.
“Really pleased with the defensive effort for the entire game,” head coach Gib Arnold said. “But holding a team to 18 percent shooting in the second half, and 26 percent for the game, and changing up our defense from man to zone … for a team this young, I was excited to see that they could go back and forth and change it up.”
The .262 field goal percentage allowed by the Warriors was the lowest for a Hawaii opponent since the 2006-07 season.
Senior tri-captains Hauns Brereton, Vander Joaquim and Jace Tavita sparked the effort. Brereton, a 6-foot-6 wing, scored 15 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead the Warriors to a 45-38 advantage on the boards. Joaquim, a 6-10 center, finished with 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting in just 19 minutes. Tavita, a 6-4 point guard, had eight points, 10 assists and five rebounds.
“I think the biggest thing with this team is no one really cares about their numbers,” Tavita said. “If Hauns gets 30 one night, that’s great as long as we win. Winning is the most important thing here. I didn’t even know I had 10 assists … we won, that’s all I really care about.”
Tavita, who has sat out the last season-and-a-half after transferring from Utah, has 19 assists in his first two games as a Warrior.
“As a wingman for a point guard like Jace, I’m very glad that he’s back there,” Brereton said. “I can always trust him… He had nine assists last night and 10 tonight and that’s an impressive stat. I have full trust in Jace.”
Joaquim’s production came in a reserve role, although he appears ready to reclaim his starting spot in the middle. Arnold said he plans to start Joaquim on Monday, when the Warriors host Houston Baptist for the championship of the Rainbow Classic.
“I’m going to start him tomorrow night,” Arnold said. “I feel confident after seeing him now for 40 minutes (over two games). He’s the anchor of our team.”
Junior guard Brandon Spearman added 12 points, and junior forward Christian Standhardinger contributed 11 points and six rebounds. All 12 Hawaii players in uniform saw action, and three true freshmen scored their first collegiate points – Ozren Pavlovic (four points, five rebounds), Manroop Clair (three points, two assists) and Michael Harper (three points).
The Warriors shot 49.1 percent from the field, and went 11 of 24 (45.8 percent) from 3-point range.
Interestingly enough, the Golden Lions opened the game with an 8-3 lead and appeared to stymie the Warriors with their zone defense. Hawaii eventually rallied and closed the first half with an 8-0 run to take a 33-27 lead at intermission.
The second half was all Warriors, as they stepped up the defensive pressure and picked up the offensive pace.
“I told them I don’t even want to call a play in the second half,” Arnold said. “I wanted to be what we call ‘race.’ Race is running off missed shots, and for the most part, we did that. We were able to cause misses – a bunch of them – and get out and run.”
The Warriors opened the second half with a 16-5 surge in the first four minutes to increase the lead to 49-32. The Golden Lions would not get closer than 12 the rest of the game.
“I think it was the fact that Jace and Spearman and Christian all knocked down 3s to open up the zone,” Brereton said. “And also Vander coming in because we were having trouble getting in the paint, but Vander came in and owned it.”
Next up for the Warriors is Houston Baptist, which is also 2-0 in the Rainbow Classic. The game is scheduled to start at 11 p.m. as part of ESPN’s College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon. All fans attending the game are encouraged to wear black shirts for “Black Out Night” in the Sheriff Center.
(Game photos courtesy Charles Simmons)