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UPDATED: Warriors get Christmas win over Southern Miss

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Whether it was for Christmas, Hannukah or the end of a four-game losing streak, there was much to celebrate Sunday morning for the University of Hawai’i men’s basketball team.

For the Warriors and their fans, the long-awaited gift was earned via a sound 60-46 victory over Southern Mississippi for seventh place in the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic.

A sparse-but-appreciative Stan Sheriff Center crowd of about 2,000 and a national TV audience on ESPNU watched Jack Purchase score a game-high 17 points and Gibson Johnson add 10 points and five rebounds as UH snapped its four-game losing streak to improve to 5-7. Southern Miss fell to 3-9.

It was the Warriors’ first win in 28 days, since beating Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 64-44, on Nov. 27.

“This was big for us — we had to snap that losing streak,” said Purchase, who made 5 of 10 attempts from 3-point range and added four rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block. “We focused well today, we wanted it more.”

Leland Green, who added six points, 11 rebounds and three assists, went even one step further.

“This was a very big game for us, the team, the program and the state,” said Green, a true freshman shooting guard. “It came down to pride.”

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Slow starts had plagued Hawai’i throughout the losing streak, but the Warriors came out strong Sunday and only got stronger as the game progressed.

Green’s 3-point basket from the left corner with 9:06 remaining in the first half broke a 17-17 tie, and Johnson’s layup with 3:21 left capped a 10-1 run that put them up, 27-18. UH eventually led, 32-22, at halftime.

The Warriors went 7 for 15 from 3-point range in the first half, including Purchase’s 3 for 5.

“I was struggling from a couple games before, but today I felt in rhythm,” Purchase said. “I was stepping into the shot, and it felt good coming off the hands.”

Defensively, Hawai’i held Southern Miss to 7 of 23 (30.4 percent) shooting in the first half, including 3 of 12 (25 percent) from 3-point range.

“For the first time in a while, we actually started off the game well,” Warriors coach Eran Ganot said. “I’m proud of them — the hustle plays, I thought we were all over the floor, the energy was good … Our halfcourt offense has improved, it’s been there. For us to make the jump, our offense needs to help our defense. We moved the ball, shared it. (But) we gotta be stronger around the rim … I’m proud of our intensity, I think we’re moving in the right direction, but we’ve still got a lot of things we need to shore up.”

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The Golden Eagles closed it to 34-25 on Eddie Davis’ 3-pointer 20 seconds into the second half, but Johnson answered with a hook shot a minute later to ignite a 14-2 run capped by Sheriff Drammeh’s layup to push the lead to 48-27 with 8:52 remaining.

Southern Miss then could not get closer than 16 points until the final 70 seconds.

“I’m really happy for our guys, we’ve obviously been struggling, going through some things and trying to battle through it,” Ganot said. “I thought we were ready from the get-go (today) and very professional in our approach. We talked a lot about how we finished that game against Utah (in a 66-52 loss Friday night) — playing right, doing things right — and I thought that gave us some momentum, something that we could build off of that gave us a professional approach following that game.”

Green’s 11 rebounds tied the team’s season-high for an individual, matched only by Noah Allen vs. Florida Atlantic on Nov. 14 and Johnson vs. Southern Illinois-Edwardsville on Nov. 11.

“You can see how he can help out the team,” Ganot said. “You saw him hit that 3, you saw him hit that short baseline jumper, he gives you something on the defensive end, and he’s a guy who can go to the glass — he showed that today. He can give us a different dimension.”

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The Warriors return to action at 8 p.m. Thursday with a non-conference game against Delaware State, their last non-league contest before starting Big West play the following week.

“This is a unique, special time — we’ve got guys with their families visiting, so they get to enjoy this with their families,” Ganot said. “And then once the 29th hits, it’s back to our conference routine. We gotta freshen up, attack practices, and get ready.

“We gotta get better — quick.”

(Game photos courtesy Brandon Flores and Chris Kadooka // www.brandonfloresphotography.com)

CLICK HERE to view boxscore

CLICK HERE to view photo gallery

Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic
Championship: San Diego State 62, San Francisco 48
Third Place: Illinois State 68, Tulsa 56
Fifth Place: Utah 74, Stephen F. Austin 66
Seventh Place: Hawai’i 60, Southern Miss 46

All-Tournament Team
David Collette, Utah
Deontae Hawkins, Illinois State
Charles Minlend, San Francisco
Trey Kell, San Diego State
MOP: Zylan Cheatham, San Diego State

15 Comments

  1. Just my opinion, people have been talking about our point guard situation, and there is some talk about getting Ursua to play now that football is over. But from the first video I saw of him, I think Green has the instincts to be a great ball handler. I think he sees the court and makes quick decisions. Of course bring Ursua on. But for the long term, here’s one vote for Green.

  2. Leland was not recruited as a point guard. We hope he improves his scoring capabilities. For the lonnng term the staff will always try to upgrade talent much like what Rolo is doing to the football team. Ursua can help the team with his leadership and physical attributes. His enthusiasm and love for both sports is infectious. Team player.

  3. It seems good things happen when Ido Flaisher is in the game. How about occasionally playing him with Johnson and Purchase at the same time to give us a different look. Sherrif is talented, but should not be at point. Matt Owies seems to make good passes inside. Glad to see Leland Green is finding his game.

  4. Ursua has to attend and do well in classes. Hard enough playing one sport in college.

  5. Ursua would bring some senior leadership at PG, being a redshirt freshman off a two year mission. Graduated HS: Ursua 2012; Stepteau 2014; Drammeh and Owies 2015; Green 2016. (FYI current seniors MT and Allen 2013);

  6. Ursua has a chance to be a dynamic football player. He’s still feeling his way on the field and in the classroom. Think he should focus on football and academics as I believe he was a late qualifier this past football season. That being said, he’s got (or had) some mad basketball skills.

  7. Islandman please do not make accusations of academic standings of any student all records are confidential unless you are working in a department that has access and illegally releasing information All football student athletes have to be cleared academically prior to participating in the bowl game. For you to publicly accuse someone of being a bad student is really inappropriate Ursua is someone who is in good standing ,as a student and teammate more so he is an outstanding leader with good morals and a gifted athlete. You are one of those people that constantly tell someone why they can’t do it and won’t be successful. The other type of people like John say Why can’t I, I can accomplish my goals ,I can help whatever team I play for. Naysayers like you add fuel to peoople like John the drive to accomplish goals that others say couldn’t be done. He is more mature , goal oriented than you could ever imagine. Have a great life Island man. John is a Warrior

  8. warrior4eva, what right do you have to accuse me of something i did not say ?
    I did not say he is a bad student. Add the word “continue” to attend and do well. I can tell he is intelligent by the way he speaks in the interviews.
    I am saying for any student-athlete, it is hard to play a sport, especially football, and hit the books in college. Doubly hard if you play two sports, that’s why so few do that. Also, it takes a long time to learn Ganot’s methods or system and doubly hard if you come in after 45 % of the season is complete. Read Clyde’s comments too. You better take a reading comprehension class.

  9. I believe comments appear to have an insinuating attitude to it. Please be more aware of your structure Mahalo

  10. I agree with islandman. It is hard enough to play one sport in college. Ursua’s apparent problem is that as an underclassman he may have a lot of classes to take. Ostrowski was a Junior or Senior and so had more flexibility in what classes he was taking. Ursua is old enough to have planned his time properly if in fact he planned and wanted to play two sports. But again, he is still an underclassman. But we have not heard, or I have not heard, from any insider source for sure that he would or would not join the team. It seems to be just speculation.

  11. Thanks akuhead2.
    Here’s my sentence structure: Every student-athlete has to continue to attend class and do well in them, otherwise they may not be able to participate in sports, (one or two) or progress to graduation.
    John was a partial qualifier, per S. Tsai, but he became eligible to play football this past season.

  12. I would take a pass on Ursua. Let him concentrate on football because he is turning into a star player on the field. Also have to keep in mind that the flashy plays he was making in high school don’t really match what this basketball coaches and team is doing right now.

  13. Call the Coach with Eran tonight at 6 pm, ESPN 1420 radio.

  14. Checked out call the coach no calls taken, just Dickman talking for most of the hour. Wife tried to call in. No one at station answering the phones. Too bad. Islandman must be a staffer for the BB team does all the advertising for the shows we appreciate your advisements on the dates and times mahalo. Nice graphics on Warrior network blog site. Very professional. If anyone listened for the first 15 min. Maybe you can update us on the content and status of recruiting etc

  15. Only recollection I have on what Ganot had to say about recruiting was that they have 11 scholarships this year (13 minus the 2 for NCAA penalty) and 11 for next year, unless the NCAA restores 1 or 2. With Allen the only senior, his scholie will go to Avea, who signed an NLI earlier.

    So, unless the NCAA restores the scholarships, they don’t have any to offer for 2017 … barring a present-day scholie player leaving after the season. Ganot made it clear that that’s not likely to happen because they go to great lengths to tell recruits upfront exactly what they have to offer and the makeup of the team to guard against the “epidemic” of transfers throughout college ball.

    He did say they have (2017) recruits in waiting should they get back the scholarships, and keep in contact with them to update the NCAA situation. He admitted to being “naive” about how the NCAA works, initially thinking the final ruling would come down in two weeks … in time for the early-signing period. Ha! It’s now been two months … and counting!

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