Warrior Insider

The Inside Source for Hawaii Men's Basketball

UPDATED: Warriors pull away late from Prairie View A&M, 72-60

The University of Hawai’i men’s basketball team earned its way back into the victory column Wednesday night, but it wasn’t quite as easy as the final 72-60 score might indicate against stubborn non-conference opponent Prairie View A&M.

A mostly mellow crowd of 4,963 (tickets issued) at the Stan Sheriff Center watched Drew Buggs score a career-high 17 points and grab five rebounds, Brocke Stepteau add a season-high 16 points off the bench and Mike Thomas contribute 14 points and 11 boards to help the Warriors improve to 5-2. Gary Blackston poured in a game-high 27 points for the Panthers, who fell to 2-6.

UH jumped out to a 9-0 lead and was ahead, 54-42, after two free throws by Sheriff Drammeh with 10:48 remaining, but Blackston answered with a 3-pointer from the left wing about 90 seconds later to start Prairie View on a 15-7 run capped by Zachary Hamilton’s free throw to cut it to 61-57 with 3:26 left.

Stepteau then swished a 25-foot 3-pointer from the right wing just before the shot clock went off with 2:56 remaining to push the lead to 64-57, and the Panthers could not get closer the rest of the game.

“We had a lot of respect for Prairie View coming in, I think you could tell they’ve got some dynamic guards — guards who are as good as we’ve seen or might see moving forward,” Warriors coach Eran Ganot said. “And they play their depth and they play hard … They have a chip on their shoulder, they’re talented,they scrap, they force a lot of turnovers and they keep coming. So that’s a big thing we want to tell our guys, we were fortunate to get double-digit leads, but they play the same way for 40 (minutes) and you’ve got to weather some of those storms.

“I thought we did a good job of rebuilding those leads, and I thought we finished the game very well, the last three minutes.”

Hawaii also played very well in the game’s first three minutes, jumping out to a 9-0 lead highlighted by Leland Green’s 3-pointer and Thomas’ traditional three-point play. Blackston finally got the Panthers on the board with a short jumper four minutes in and they converted a couple of turnovers into baskets as Austin Starr capped a 12-4 run with a 3-pointer to close it to 13-12 with 13:35 remaining in the first half.

Jack Purchase answered with a 3-pointer from the left wing to ignite a 15-1 surge culminating in Samuta Avea’s 3-pointer from the left corner which made it 28-13 with 8:38 left.

The Warriors were then able to maintain the comfortable lead over the next five minutes, but Shay’Rone Jett bookended a 9-1 run for Prairie View with a free throw and a 3-pointer from the right corner — the latter coming at the 1:06 mark to cut it to 35-29.

Buggs sank a free throw at the end of the half to help UH take a 36-29 lead into the locker room.

The Warriors benefitted from the free throw line in the first half, sinking 12 of 15 free throws, compared to just 2 of 6 for the Panthers. Prairie View’s pressure defense also resulted in seven first-half steals.

“They were getting after us,” Thomas said. “Teams that play like that are gonna be all up in you and stuff, so half of it is going to pay off for them, and half of it is not.”

Stepteau, who often was paired with Buggs in a rare double point guard set, said the Panthers’ pressure did prove effective in disrupting Hawai’i’s rhythm.

“A lot of times people will press like that to take away your flow, and I think that got to us and we started making turnovers and the only way we could score was at the free throw line,” Stepteau said. “But I think we did a good job of pushing through that.”

The Warriors opened the second half with an 11-5 run capped by Stepteau’s 3-pointer and Gibson Johnson’s old-fashioned three-point play to push the lead to 47-34 just over five minutes in.

Zachary Hamilton’s jumper at the 14:34 mark started an 8-1 run that closed it to 48-42, but UH responded with a 6-0 surge helped by two technical foul free throws by Stepteau immediately followed by two more free throws by Sheriff Drammeh to make it 54-42 with 10:48 remaining.

Prairie View finished with 12 steals, compared to zero for the Warriors, but Hawai’i had a huge advantage at the free throw line, making 31 of 38 (81.6 percent) compared to just 10 of 23 (43.5 percent) for the Panthers.

“I’m pleased with our progression overall as a team, some guys making breakthroughs,” Ganot said. “We’ll look at some of the execution, I thought we executed as well as we’ve had in a three or four-minute stretch to end the game. I think our flow is getting better, which we’ve talked about being a big point of emphasis offensively — we’re not just playing catch, now we’re playing aggressively and getting second and third penetration, and second and third ball screens … so we’re getting there.”

The Warriors return to action at 7 p.m. Saturday against intrastate rival UH-Hilo at the SSC.

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

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  1. wow that was kind of ugly, a small athletic thin quick team, gave UH warriors all they could handle. if they shoot 60 percent from the FT line, the PVAM team comes off with a close upset of UH. warriors I am sure were favored by near 20 points at the SSC. That is what worries me, Big West has those small thin, athletic, a couple or more 3 point shooters, and probably better inside scorers, UCSB seems to be rising to top, CSUN, Cal Davis, Poly, LBSU , Fullerton , it will all be similar type of teams, giving UH fits.. good thing Warriors hit their Free Throws.
    I still say, UH goes into BigWest Play at no worse than 9-4 or perhaps, 10-3, and a definite shot to win 20 games and win BigWest tourney with NCAA bid… however..
    UH warriors, just have to handle pressure defensively..

    Go Bows!
    They should be alright !

  2. This was a tough game to watch on tv so musta been real frustrating to be in the stands. This team better start making 3s more consistent if they want to make a run for Big West title because it is up for grabs this year.

  3. I agree. Hitting the 3 is vital if UH wants to win the big west. I wouldn’t mind seeing Drammeh, Steptau and Buggs shoot more 3’s. With Purchase in a shooting slump we need other guys to step up.

  4. What happened to Ido? He usually makes some good things happen when he comes in, and he would have been the tallest guy in the gym.

  5. We can’t handle full court press and we suck at applying it to opponents.

    With Purchase in the shooting slump, couldn’t we let Ido and Zigmars play? With Thomas and Johnson leaving next year, they should be getting some game reps.

  6. I agree with Ganot for not playing Ido and Zigmars in the last game. They would both be way too slow against the Prairie View press.

    I think tomorrow will be different. Hilo is not as fast and big, so I think Ido and Zigmars could see some action. Ido should even be able to score some points against the smaller Hilo guys.

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