UPDATED: Warriors shoot past UH-Hilo, 86-55
Showing no letdown from last Friday’s inspiring performance against then-No. 5-ranked North Carolina, the University of Hawai’i men’s basketball team shot past interstate rival UH-Hilo, 86-55, Tuesday night in non-conference men’s basketball action.
A sparse crowd of about 2,900 at the Stan Sheriff Center watched Noah Allen score a game-high 24 points with 10 rebounds and Sheriff Drammeh add 16 points and four assists as the Rainbow Warriors improved to 3-2, while the Vulcans fell to 1-3.
Allen scored 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting (including 4-for-7 on 3-point goals) in the first half, after which UH led, 45-24. Drammeh had 11 points by halftime, including a perfect 3-for-3 from 3-point range.
“I was just taking shots, my teammates did a great job of finding me when I was open and they just started going in tonight,” said Allen, who added three assists, three steals and two blocks.
As a team, the Rainbow Warriors shot 16 of 32 from the field in the first half, including 9 of 18 from beyond the arc. They also out-rebounded the smaller Vulcans, 21-11, including a 6-1 advantage off the offensive glass.
Hawai’i finished the game with 13 3-pointers, which was one short of the school record. All 12 Warriors who saw action in the game scored at least one point.
“Since the summer, we’ve put in a lot of work, just getting up shots every day — before practice, after practice,” said Brocke Stepteau, who came off the bench to swish two of four 3-pointers in the first half and finished with a career-high 11 points and seven assists. “That’s (also) something we can do a lot (of) at practice before we play a scrimmage or anything like that, we get up a lot shots. That’s one of the weapons with our offense — ‘four-out, one-in,’ get a lot of penetration, try to get into the post — and when you do things like that, a lot of teams converge on you and you have to be able to knock down open shots. And when the team plays like we did today, we passed the ball around a lot, we get good looks which increases our percentages. I think we’re doing a good job of shooting the ball so far.”
Allen’s 3-pointer from the left wing a minute into the game ignited a 9-0 run capped by Drammeh’s two free throws that put Hawai’i ahead, 11-2, two minutes later. Hilo later closed it to 14-7 on Randan Berinobis’ short bank shot with 16:10 remaining in the half, but the Rainbow Warriors answered with a 7-1 surge capped by Ido Flaisher’s jump hook to stretch the lead to 21-8 with 11:26 left.
Hawai’i coach Eran Ganot said his team’s fast start was satisfying.
“I’m process-oriented, and I do believe the next practice is the biggest practice, and the next game is the biggest game,” Ganot said. “The game is very humbling, and you have to honor it, you have to bring it every day. Certainly if you’re experienced or not, but definitely with a young group. (The TV reporter) asked me at halftime, ‘Are you pleased there’s no letdown?’ Letdown? We’re not in a situation where we can have a letdown — we gotta keep getting better. I was really pleased with how we came out of the gate. I think some of those questions were answered in the first five minutes, getting good shots and getting good stops.”
A 9-1 run bookended by Stepteau 3-pointers later extended it to 30-13 with 8:35 remaining, and Allen drained back-to-back 3-pointers near the end of the half to make it 45-22 with under a minute remaining.
The Vulcans could not get closer than 19 points in the second half.
Gibson Johnson added 14 points and eight rebounds for the Rainbow Warriors, who finished with 24 team assists on 31 made baskets.
“Good win for our young team,” Ganot said. “We always talk about having a balance, between working our tail off to get better and enjoying the journey, so you gotta enjoy these. I thought — really important — that offensively we shared the ball. And that’s gotta be a big part of our identity. When you get 31 baskets and 24 assists on those, that’s really high level, and you could feel it. It’s the hardest thing to guard, but we were passing up good shots and getting great shots.”
Brian Ishola led the Vulcans with 18 points. UH-Hilo senior guard Parker Farris entered the game averaging 27.3 points per game, but was held to five points on 1-for-7 shooting. Junior forward Darius Wilson-Johnson entered the game averaging 20.7 points per game, but was limited to four points on 2-of-10 shooting.
But as always, Ganot said there is room for improvement before Friday’s 8 p.m. game against Troy at the SSC.
“I was concerned with our lack of focus defensively, where at times we got away with it, when guys missed some good looks and we weren’t locked in,” Ganot said. “We need to continue to grow offensively, which we are, and we need to embrace the offensive and defensive rebounding identity. I know we won the boards by nine (42-33), but we were up by 10 at the half and then I think we went away from that. And that’s the challenge for a young group. Our biggest thing is always about getting better, continuing to get better, and we’re doing that. The challenge is can we continue to make jumps, because we’re going to need to, on both sides of the ball.”
Game photos courtesy Brandon Flores / www.brandonfloresphotography.com
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