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Warriors hold on to beat Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 82-70

The University of Hawai’i basketball team opened the 2017-18 season with a hard-earned 82-70 victory over Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Friday night.

It was the first of three nights in the Outrigger Resorts Rainbow Classic at the Stan Sheriff Center.

The Rainbow Warriors had a 16-point lead cut down to three in the second half, but they eventually pulled away in the closing minutes for the win.

Gibson Johnson scored 19 points, grabbed nine rebounds and added five assists to lead the Warriors. Jack Purchase contributed 18 points and eight assists, and Mike Thomas had 19 points, five rebounds, and went 13 for 16 from the free-throw line for Hawai’i.

The Warriors went 28 for 42 on free throws, while the Golden Lions went 18 for 24.

Hawai’i held the lead for most of the game, and took a 46-36 lead at halftime. Johnson led the way early, shooting 4 for 4 from the field and scoring 11 points.

The Warriors then scored the first six points of the second half to increase their lead to 52-36. But the Golden Lions responded with a 14-2 run during a seven-minute stretch to cut the Hawai’i lead to 54-50 with 11:52 remaining.

UAPB got as close as 56-53, but Purchase and Brandon Thomas hit back-to-back 3-pointers to push the Hawai’i lead back up to 62-53 with just under nine minutes left.

Martaveous McKnight led UAPB with 25 points, and Joe’Randle Toliver added 17 points while shooting 5 for 8 from 3-point range.

In the opening game of the tournament, North Dakota defeated Troy, 83-80. The Rainbow Classic will continue on Sunday, with UAPB facing Troy at 2:30 p.m., followed by Hawai’i hosting North Dakota at 5:00 p.m.

More details, including video highlights and interviews, will be posted later.

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