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UPDATED: Warriors shoot down previously undefeated San Francisco, 85-75

Photo courtesy Chris Kadooka

On Black Friday, the University of Hawai’i basketball team found a special in the upset department. Drew Buggs scored a career-high 25 points to lead the Rainbow Warriors to an 85-75 victory over previously undefeated San Francisco.

A crowd of around 4,000 (6,200 tickets issued) at the Stan Sheriff Center watched Hawai’i improve to 5-2 with what qualifies as its most significant win of the season so far. The Dons, who won their previous seven games by an average of 19.6 points per game, dropped to 7-1.

USF entered the game ranked fourth in the nation in scoring at 88.9 points per game, and was ranked No. 20 in the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25.

But it was the Warriors who controlled the pace, and still finished with a season-high 85 points, while holding the Dons to their season-low of 75.

“That’s a quality win for our program,” acting head coach Chris Gerlufsen said. “That was a gritty, gritty team effort. I couldn’t be more happy. That’s a win that can propel us forward, if we use it the right way.”

Buggs, a 6-foot-3 junior point guard, led the way. He shot 11 for 19 from the field, including 3 for 6 from 3-point range, and also had six assists and four rebounds before fouling out with 1:49 remaining. Prior to Friday’s game, Buggs was averaging 10.7 points per game, and was shooting 20 percent (4 for 20) from 3-point range.

“The coaches were on me to be aggressive and make the right play,” Buggs said. “I thought I had some good looks today and I was able to knock it down. It helps when you have teammates out there that are weapons and help open up the floor for me, and coaches and players that instill confidence in me the way that they do.”

Among the teammates providing the most support on Friday were junior guard Eddie Stansberry, junior forward Samuta Avea and senior forward Zigmars Raimo.

Photo courtesy Brandon Flores

Stansberry added 21 points, shooting 6 of 10 from the field, 3 of 7 on 3-pointers, and 6 of 7 on free throws while playing all 40 minutes. Avea scored 14 points, shooting an efficient 5 of 6 from the field and 2 for 2 on free throws. Raimo was an all-around contributor with 13 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

Hawai’i had a solid shooting night, finishing 50.9 percent from the field (28 for 55), 52.9 percent from 3-point range (9 for 17) and 83.3 percent on free throws (20 for 24).

Perhaps more important, the Warriors controlled the tempo of the game from start to finish. They limited the Dons to seven fastbreak points; USF also tied its se”ason-low with seven 3-pointers.

“San Francisco is at its best when the game is up and down,” Gerlufsen said. “I thought in the first half, they went to a press, and it’s more like a token press and I thought that actually played into our hands because it slowed the game down. We weren’t going through the press for scores. We were taking our time getting it across halfcourt and got into some late shot-clock situations and I thought that kind of slowed the pace down.”

USF jumped to a 4-0 lead to open the game, but Hawai’i responded with an 8-0 run.  The Warriors established a 21-11 lead with 10:46 remaining in the first half after Buggs drained 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions.

Buggs’ driving layup with 40 seconds remaining in the half give the Warriors a 39-30 lead at intermission. He had 12 points and four assists in the first half, and Stansberry added 11 points.

Photo courtesy Chris Kadooka

“Drew is a great player,” Stansberry said of Buggs. “With him, you never know what you’re going to get. I think that’s what makes it hard to scout a point guard like Drew. He’s big for us.”

Despite Buggs’ efforts, the Warriors could not pull away in the second half. The Dons chipped away at the lead, and cut it to 51-49 with under 12 minutes remaining.

Then, with Buggs getting a break on the bench, USF went on a 6-0 run to take a 55-51 lead with 10:48 remaining. When Buggs returned to the court, the Warriors went on a 15-3 surge to regain control for good with a 66-58 lead. Raimo capped the run by making the first 3-pointer of his career.

“It felt great,” said Raimo, who was previously 0 for 11 from 3-point range in a Hawai’i jersey. “I saw the bench going crazy and the crowd. It felt great, but the win feels even better.”

A two-handed follow-dunk by Avea off a miss by Mate Colina gave the Warriors a 76-63 lead with 1:57 remaining.  Hawai’i then went 9 for 10 from the free-throw line down the stretch to secure the win.

“Shooting is contagious,” Gerlufsen said. “When you start feeling it a little bit and one guy starts feeling good, it has a tendency to carry over to other guys. We’re shooting the ball with a good amount of confidence right now.”

USF was led by 7-foot center Jimbo Lull, who finished with 24 points and 10 rebounds. He entered the game 2 for 3 from 3-point range in his previous seven games this season, but he went 3 for 4 on 3-pointers against the Warriors.

Photo courtesy Chris Kadooka

Hawai’i’s victory came on “Fabulous 5 Night” and members of the 1970-72 Hawai’i teams received a standing ovation from the crowd when they were recognized at halftime. Members of the Fabulous Five attending were Jerome Freeman, Dwight Holiday, Bob Nash and John Penebacker (Al Davis, the fifth starter on the team, was unable to attend). Reserve players Dennis Sallas, Jim Wienstroer and Artie Wilson were also in attendance.

“We appreciate everything that they’ve done for the program,” Gerlufsen said. “We wouldn’t be here without them and we strive to be like what they were like when they were here. That was inspiring for us to have them in attendance.”

The Warriors will be back in action on Sunday, when they host Hawai’i Pacific at 5:00 p.m. at the Sheriff Center.

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1 Comment

  1. What a great win!! Glad the fab 5 were celebrated!

    Keep it up Bows!

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