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UPDATED: Warriors overwhelm Mississippi Valley State

Even with final examinations completed last week, the University of Hawai’i basketball team passed its first test of the winter break with a convincing 76-51 victory over Mississippi Valley State on Sunday.

A crowd of 2,664 (4,890 tickets issued) at the Stan Sheriff Center watched the Rainbow Warriors improve to 6-4 this season, and 22-0 all-time against teams from the Southwest Athletic Conference.

In what has become custom for these Rainbow Warriors, a balanced effort led to the victory. Sophomore point guard Drew Buggs finished with 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting, and also had six assists and four rebounds.

Zigmars Raimo added 12 points and eight rebounds; Brocke Stepteau scored 12 with four assists and three steals; Eddie Stansberry scored 11 in his first start of the season; Jack Purchase scored seven points and grabbed a career-high 13 rebounds; Samuta Avea had eight points and four rebounds in 17 minutes off the bench.

“It’s huge … I think we did a pretty good job of fixing our mistakes, being in the right spots,” said Raimo, referring to the Warriors’ lackluster seven-point win over Hawai’i-Hilo the week before.

Eight days after allowing the Division II Vulcans to shoot a season-high 52.8 percent from the field, the Warriors limited MVSU to a season-low 35.0 percent. Most noteworthy, the Delta Devils shot just 1 for 12 (8.3 percent) from 3-point range.

“We’ve done a lot of work defensively (in practice), and you can see that in the first half,” head coach Eran Ganot said. “The numbers – you hold a team under 40 (percent), 8 percent from 3. Defending the 3 is a big part of our identity, especially the way the game is played now.”

In contrast to MVSU, Hawai’i shot 52.8 percent from the field, and 40 percent (8 for 20) from 3-point range. The Warriors also out-rebounded the Delta Devils, 40-32, but committed 16 turnovers.

The Delta Devils took a 4-3 lead in the opening minutes of the game, but it was all Hawai’i after that. The Warriors held a 17-15 lead midway through the first half, then broke it open with an 11-0 surge that increased the lead to 28-15.

Hawai’i eventually took a 39-20 lead at intermission, limiting MVSU to 28.6 percent shooting (8 for 28) in the first half.

“That’s been our mentality all week, going back to work on the defensive end,” said Buggs, who scored nine in the first half. “We made a lot of adjustments. We went back to the basics and tried to focus on point of attack and team defense. I think we did a really good job today.”

The Warriors opened the second half with a 7-0 run to increase the lead to 46-20 and essentially put the game away.

All 13 players in uniform saw action. Junior guard Leland Green, who missed the UH-Hilo game for personal reasons, scored six points, including a buzzer-beating jumper from the wing to end the first half. Green had not scored – or played – in the previous seven games.

One player who was not in uniform, or even at the game, was senior guard Sheriff Drammeh. Normally in the starting lineup, Drammeh was “suspended indefinitely due to violation of team rules” according to an announcement from UH moments before the game.

Drammeh is averaging 6.5 points and 3.0 rebounds this season, and is considered one of the team’s defensive leaders.

Stansberry started in place of Drammeh. The early lead established by the Warriors allowed Ganot to make multiple substitutions in the second half.

“It was good to see Leland and Brandon (Thomas) get their cracks in there and have their moments,” Ganot said. “Samuta (Avea) gave us a lift off the bench. That’s kind of the mindset going in and hopefully those guys continue to emerge. We tried all three of our true freshmen (centers) and they have to continue to get those reps.”

Emmanuel Ejeh, a 6-foot-8 senior center, led MVSU with 14 points and 12 rebounds. The Delta Devils dropped to 2-11, with 10 of those losses on the road.

“We don’t look at the record,” Raimo said. “They played against good teams and they lost, but they are a good team. Our mentality was to just play our game and do our best – bounce back from the last game.”

Next on the schedule for Hawai’i is the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic, December 22, 23 and 25. The Warriors will face UNLV on the opening day, Saturday, December 22, at 12 noon.

Ganot said Drammeh’s status will be reviewed this week.

“We have a good couple of days here to clean things up from tonight and have a good couple days of practice going into our third, believe it or not, three-game event,” Ganot said.

The UH football team, which will play Louisiana Tech in the SoFi Hawai’i Bowl on December 22, was recognized at halftime of Sunday’s basketball game. The UH football players also joined the basketball players on the court after the game for the school alma mater.

CLICK HERE to view boxscore

(Game photos courtesy Brandon Flores and Chris Kadooka)

CLICK HERE to view photo gallery

2 Comments

  1. Anybody know whats the deal with Drammeh? Hopefully a minor incident and he comes back strong for Diamond Head. I think this team needs him for defense, but if Leland can get back to form then that helps even more.

  2. Sheriff and Purchase seniors?
    Eran has to recruit defenders perimeter and shooters like Stansberry.
    Drammeh no timeline on return?
    Ganot need defensive quickness going against better teams. MSV was not great team ..number 300 or so rpi.
    Go Bows! Win DHC!

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