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Warriors hold on for road win at UC Riverside, 72-63

The University of Hawai’i basketball team jumped to a big first-half lead, then held off a second-half charge from UC Riverside in a 72-63 victory on Thursday night at the SRC Arena in Riverside, Calif.

The Warriors improved to 10-11 overall and 4-4 in the Big West Conference with their first road victory of the season. The Highlanders, who beat the Warriors last week in Honolulu, dropped to 6-13 and 4-4.

Sheriff Drammeh and Jack Purchase each scored 15 points, and Brocke Stepteau added 14 points and seven assists to lead the Warriors. Drammeh and Purchase each made four 3-pointers, and Purchase grabbed a team-high nine rebounds.

Gibson Johnson and Leland Green contributed nine points apiece, and Noah Allen scored seven.

Hawai’i raced to a 20-point lead in the first half, then held on after the Highlanders got as close as three points in the closing minutes.

UCR had a 17-13 lead with 9:19 remaining, but the Warriors responded with a stunning 19-0 run over the next five minutes to take a 32-17 advantage. Purchase and Drammeh each hit two 3-pointers to highlight the surge.

Hawai’i eventually took a 38-18 lead at halftime after out-scoring the Highlanders 25-1 in the last 9:18 of the first half.

The Warriors shot 55.6 percent from the field in the first half, including 63.6 percent (7 for 11) from 3-point range. In contrast, the Highlanders shot 26.9 percent from the field in the first half, including 22.2 percent (2 for 9) from 3-point range.

UCR got back in it with a 10-0 run to open the second half. The Warriors rebuilt their lead to 49-31 with 12:51 remaining, but the Highlanders went on a 10-1 surge to cut the Hawai’i lead to 50-41 with 9:15 left.

UCR got as close as 61-57 in the closing minutes, but Drammeh drained a 3-pointer with 2:56 remaining to push the Hawai’i lead up to 64-57.

The Highlanders cut it to three after that, but the Warriors sealed the victory by going 6 for 6 from the free-throw line in the final 20 seconds.

More details will be reported as it becomes available.

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