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UPDATED: No. 6 Miami pulls away from Warriors in Diamond Head opener

Holding its own in the eye of the storm, the University of Hawai’i men’s basketball team stayed right with No. 6-ranked Miami (Fla.) for about 25 game minutes Friday night, but the Hurricanes proved their worth after that and pulled away for a 75-57 victory in the opening round of the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic.

The game was closer than the final score indicated, as the Warriors became the first team this season to hold a second-half lead against Miami.

An intense and vocal crowd of 7,669 at the Stan Sheriff Center plus a national TV (ESPNU) audience watched Dewan Huell score 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting along with six rebounds as the Hurricanes remained unbeaten at 10-0 heading into Saturday’s 5 p.m. semifinal matchup with New Mexico State. Ja’Quan Newton also scored 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting, and Anthony Lawrence II added 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting.

Sheriff Drammeh had a game-high 17 points to go with four assists for UH, which fell to 7-3 and will face Davidson (4-5) in a consolation bracket game at 7:30 p.m.Saturday. This game also will be televised nationally on ESPNU. Leland Green added 10 points, and Jack Purchase added nine points and 12 rebounds off the bench.

The Warriors fell behind 10-2 against Miami but rallied back to take the lead, and the first half ended with the teams tied at 33-33. A 3-pointer from the corner by Green gave Hawai’i a 36-35 lead moments into the second half — the first time this season the Hurricanes have trailed any opponent after halftime.

But Miami quickly took the lead back, and a 9-0 run increased their advantage to 57-44 with 10:50 remaining. The Hurricanes then gradually increased the lead the rest of the way.

“Give (Miami) credit, they showed why they’re a good team, they’re balanced,” Warriors coach Eran Ganot said. “I’m disappointed in our defensive effort in the second half. I think they made some adjustments to take us out of our offensive rhythm, and unfortunately, it carried over to our defensive end — something we take a great deal of pride in, regardless of whether we’re playing an elite offensive team.

“I think we showed some flashes today, we had some moments … I appreciate some of the guys’ efforts. (But) disappointed with the way we unraveled.”

UH fell behind 10-2 in the opening minutes, but responded with an 11-2 run to take a 13-12 lead with 12:02 left in the first half. Brocke Stepteau and Drew Buggs hit back-to-back 3-pointers to highlight the surge.

The Warriors increased their lead to 18-14, but the Hurricanes then went on a 12-4 run to go up, 26-22, before Hawai’i managed to tie the score at 33-all at intermission. Drammeh scored nine of his 12 first-half points in final four minutes of the first half, including a 19-foot jumper from the top of the key with 3.5 seconds remaining.

“It was exciting, we felt like we could really compete with those guys,” Drammeh said. “We’re playing a team that is ranked No. 6, and being able to have a tied ballgame at halftime, it’s a good feeling.”

But that feeling would slip away early in the second half, after the Warriors took their last lead at 38-37 on Gibson Johnson’s reverse layup with 17:44 left. Bruce Brown Jr. answered with a free throw 18 seconds later to start Miami on an 11-1 run capped by Brown’s 3-pointer at the 15:02 mark to push the Hurricanes’ lead to 48-39.
UH later closed it to 48-44 with 13:33 left on Green’s 3-pointer from the left wing, but that was as close as they would get as Miami eventually built the lead to 69-49 with just under five minutes remaining.

A string of turnovers and poor shot selection by the Warriors contributed to the separation.

“Sometimes a five-point deficit, you can keep that there, but then because of our composure — or lack thereof — during that stretch, it turns into 15,” Ganot said. “It’s something we’ve gotta learn and go through.”

Drammeh said Hawai’i also has enough positives to take into Saturday’s matchup against Davidson.

“Just play with that same type of intensity and energy that we had in the first half,” Drammeh said. “That’s probably the biggest thing.”

Friday’s Results
Middle Tennessee 69, Princeton 67
USC 84, Akron 53
New Mexico State 69, Davidson 68
Miami 75, Hawai’i 57

Saturday’s Games
11:30 a.m. – Middle Tennessee vs. USC
2:00 p.m. – Princeton vs. Akron
5:00 p.m. – New Mexico State vs. Miami
7:30 p.m. – Davidson vs. Hawai’i

Monday’s Games
7:30 a.m. – Consolation game
9:30 a.m. – Consolation game
1:00 p.m. – Championship game
3:30 p.m. – Third place game

CLICK HERE to view boxscore

(Game photos courtesy Chris Kadooka)

Game video below courtesy www.hawaiiathletics.com

2 Comments

  1. Nice effort, however I don’t see us winning too many games when Mike Thomas goes for 1 point, 2 rebounds and 4 turnovers. Seemed like he was out of it after getting posterized by Izundu

  2. Sheriff was the only guy who didn’t look scared out there. Guys really need to step it up tonight.

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