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UPDATED: Warriors finish strong to beat New Orleans, 79-71

Photo courtesy Chris Kadooka

It wasn’t easy against an opponent from “The Big Easy” but the University of Hawai’i basketball team ultimately prevailed, 79-71, over New Orleans on Sunday.

A crowd of around 3,500 at the Stan Sheriff Center watched the Rainbow Warriors improve to 4-2 after pulling away from the Privateers in the game’s final five minutes. UNO dropped to 1-4 with its fourth consecutive loss – all on the road.

“That was a gritty win,” acting head coach Chris Gerlufsen said. “Not the prettiest, by far, but I thought we found a way.”

Senior guard Eddie Stansberry once again led the way, scoring 24 points, including 4-of-7 shooting from 3-point range, and 8-of-10 shooting from the free-throw line. He has led the team in scoring in four of the six games so far this season.

“Lately, it’s been going in and, of course, as any player you love to see that,” Stansberry said. “I think my confidence is definitely at a good level right now … My plan is just to go in a game with these guys and try to execute at a high level and get good looks. I may get some of those in a game and if they go in, they go in, if they don’t, they don’t. The most important thing is to get the (win) in the end.”

Senior forward Zigmars Raimo added 15 points, nine rebounds and four assists. He was an efficient 4 for 5 from the field and 7 for 8 on free throws.

“Zigmars is just a hard-hat, lunch-pail guy,” Gerlufsen said. “He’s a guy you want on your team. I think Zigmars can affect the stat sheet in a lot of different ways and we need him to do that.”

Junior forward Samuta Avea scored 12 points, junior point guard Drew Buggs finished with 11 points and seven assists, and sophomore center Dawson Carper contributed nine points and six rebounds.

Photo courtesy Brandon Flores

Hawai’i shot a season-high 54.8 percent from the field, but also committed a season-high 20 turnovers.

“We knew they were going to pressure us a lot and that’s the way they play – they’re physical and they jump around,” Raimo said. “We knew they were going to do it but we didn’t handle it well in the first half. We did better in the second half.”

The first half was close throughout, thanks in part to 14 turnovers by the Warriors. Hawai’i led by as many as six points in the first half, and eventually took a 31-29 lead into intermission. Stansberry scored 11 in the first half.

“I just thought we had careless turnovers, not valuing the ball and that’s not what this program is built on,” Gerlufsen said. “We addressed that at halftime, and we were better in the second half … we found a way. When you’re not at your best, it’s all about finding a way to win the game and our guys did find a way to win the game, and I’m proud of that fact.”

The Warriors committed just six turnovers in the second half, and converted shots from all angles. In the second half alone, Hawai’i went 14 for 21 (66.7 percent) from the field, 3 for 4 (75 percent) from 3-point range, and 17 for 20 (85 percent) from on free throws.

Despite that, the Privateers did not go down easy. The early portions of the second half went back and forth, and the score was tied at 49 with 12:49 remaining. Buggs then scored five consecutive points – a fade-away jumper as the 30-second shot clock expired, and then a 3-pointer.

“That was a spark for us,” Stansberry said. “We were talking about at halftime what was going to be the spark for us to gain a lead and hold that momentum and there you go, there you have it, Drew stepped up.”

Photo courtesy Matt Osumi

Still, UNO refused to fold and trailed by just one, 60-59, with 7:32 remaining. Carper converted two free throws to give the Warriors a 68-63 lead, and moments later stole a rebound away from a UNO player and recycled it into a basket to give Hawai’i the final momentum and a 70-63 advantage with 4:01 remaining.

The Warriors converted 5 of 6 free throws in the final minute to secure the win.

Bryson Robinson, a 6-4 senior guard, led UNO with 17 points and five steals. Gerrale Gates, a 6-6 sophomore forward, added 14 points and 10 rebounds.

The victory for the Warriors came less than a week after they had their worst offensive game of the season in a 66-53 road loss at Illinois.

It also capped a weekend that earlier had the UH women’s volleyball team clinch the Big West Conference championship on Friday, and then the UH football team winning the Mountain West Conference West Division championship.

“We just try to keep that mentality that we’re surrounded by a bunch of winners, such as the football team and the volleyball team,” Stansberry said. “We can’t be the ones to drop the ball in that sense. We just try to keep that torch going . We’re happy that all sports are doing well … hopefully, one day, we want to win that Big West.”

The Warriors will remain at home for their next two games – Friday against San Francisco, then Sunday against Hawai’i Pacific.

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2 Comments

  1. Justin Webster lookin’ good; nice confident, three-stroke, handles, footwork and quick decisive passing; already playing in Prime Time, apparently has earned the trust of coaches as well as Ganot’s Shooter’s Green Light.
    (Too bad so severely cut into Kameron’s PT…)

    IF WE CAN Get 2-3 threes per game to go along with his game-close-out free throws, Drew looks like All-Conference…

    Eddie on pace for MOP Candidate…(sorry; BWC POWeek— Obvious)

    Really appreciate Zig’s improvements in quickness, free throw shooting, driving to basket and (i think we’ll see) shooting; two straight seasons of great improvements (and between Samuta and Zig, nice job by coaches…);
    awesome IF Team can Sustain four players averaging double figures…

    Dawson really improving with his ‘big body’ control and quickness to 50-50 balls, and just putting that ball in off the glass…
    (Hope Owen Hulland and Maté Will Be Factors This Season…);

    When Hemsley and Bernardo da Silva figure how to get their games into the flow of this system, watch out for this team…

  2. Nice win for the Bows. Eddie is turning into a reliable consistent scorer and Dawson is improving. Buggs is Buggs which means steady leadership, ball handling and clutch plays.

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