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UPDATED: Purchase leads Warriors to 87-64 rout of UC Riverside

On a night when several missions were accomplished, the University of Hawai’i basketball continued to climb back up the Big West Conference standings with a resounding 87-64 rout of UC Riverside on Saturday night.

An announced crowd of 6,636 at the Stan Sheriff Center watched the Rainbow Warriors avenge a four-point upset loss to the same UCR team last month at Riverside, Calif., to improve to 16-9 overall. Hawai’i is now alone in third place in the Big West at 7-4. With five regular-season games remaining, the Warriors trail only first-place UC Irvine (10-1) and second-place Cal State Fullerton (8-3).

The Highlanders dropped to 9-18 and remained in a tie for seventh place at 3-8.

In getting its team revenge, Hawai’i had one of its best offensive performances of the season. The Warriors shot a season-best 58.9 percent (33 for 56) from the field, including 56.5 percent (13 for 23) from 3-point range. They also passed for 23 assists while committing just nine turnovers, and out-rebounded the Highlanders 34-21.

“One of the great offensive performances we’ve had,” UH head coach Eran Ganot said. “This was a big game for us, a big week for us, to protect home court. I know we talked a lot about our shooting and it’s been coming on. This was another step in the right direction there. More than anything, I’m proud of our consistency in terms of taking care of the ball. I’m proud of our defense.”

Leading the way was senior forward Jack Purchase. He scored 23 points, grabbed nine rebounds, and became the UH program’s career leader in 3-pointers. He connected on 5 of 9 shots from 3-point range, giving him 185 3-pointers as a Warrior. The previous record of 180 was set by Zane Johnson from 2010-12.

“It’s amazing just to be mentioned with some of those guys,” Purchase said. “Zane was here (on staff) when I got here, so I saw how good of a shooter he was. I’ve heard about Carl English and Savo (Predrag Savovic) and all those guys and how they came in as great shooters. To be mentioned in the same sentence as them is an honor. It’s really an honor.”

Fellow senior Brocke Stepteau added 17 points on 6-of-8 shooting, including 3 of 4 from 3-point range. He also had four assists, including the assist to Purchase for the 3-point record.

“The best part about getting that record tonight was that Brocke got me the assist,” Purchase said. “I’ve been here for four years with him, I’ve lived with him for the last three. He’s my best mate.”

Among the other Hawai’i players with significant accomplishments on Saturday:

• Junior guard Eddie Stansberry broke out of a month-long slump with 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting, including 3 of 5 from 3-point range.

• Sophomore point guard Drew Buggs shot 3 for 4 from the field and finished with seven points, eight assists, zero turnovers and four rebounds.

• Freshman reserve center Dawson Carper continued his late-season contributions with eight points and seven rebounds.

• Junior guard Leland Green went 2 for 3 from 3-point range and finished with eight points in just 11 minutes off the bench.

• Junior forward Zigmars Raimo scored just two points on 1-for-4 shooting, but Ganot noted that Raimo contributed five assists with zero turnovers.

• Walk-on guard Huthifah Abdeljawad scored the first point of his UH career, making 1 of 2 free throws in the final minute.

As for the game itself, the Warriors put it away early.

Stepteau hit three 3-pointers in the first five minutes of the game to give Hawai’i a 16-6 lead. As a team, the Warriors opened the game by shooting 8 for 10 from the field, including 4 for 5 from 3-point range, and UCR never recovered.

By the end of the first half, Hawai’i was shooting 62.1 percent from the field (18 for 29), 69.2 percent from 3-point range (9 for 13), and had a 50-29 lead.

Midway through the second half, the Hawai’i lead increased to 29, allowing the reserves to close out the game.

A month ago, the Highlanders shot 53.7 percent from the field and passed for 26 assists in a 75-71 win over the Warriors. This time, UCR shot 43.9 percent and had just seven assists.

“That was kind of a turning point for us defensively as far as we had to commit ourselves on that end if we want to be a legitimate contender in this conference,” Stepteau said. “We knew when we had a chance to get them back on our home court, we had to have a good performance from the start and we were able to do that today.”

Dikymbe Martin led the Highlanders with 22 points, including 6-of-9 shooting from 3-point range. Dragan Elkaz, who scored 25 points and made seven 3-pointers in the win over Hawai’i last month, was limited to eight points this time.

The Warriors will return to the Big West road next for games at UC Santa Barbara on February 21, and at Cal Poly on February 23.

The game was part of a basketball doubleheader with the UH women’s basketball team. The Rainbow Wahine defeated Long Beach State, 63-49, in the first game of the night.

CLICK HERE to view boxscore

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

CLICK HERE to view photo gallery

Big West Conference
Saturday’s Results

Cal State Fullerton 78, at CSUN 71
at UC Davis 77, Long Beach State 73
at UC Irvine 83, UC Santa Barbara 70
at Hawai’i 87, UC Riverside 64

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