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UPDATED: Warriors shut down HPU, 58-41

Photo courtesy Brandon Flores

Less than 48 hours after its most fabulous win of the young season, the University of Hawai’i basketball team scored a not-so-pretty 58-41 win over Hawai’i Pacific on Sunday.

The common denominator, of course, being a win.

“Happy to get out with a win,” UH acting head coach Chris Gerlufsen said. “We’re never going to give them back. All credit goes to HPU, I thought they came in and they battled us for 40 minutes. They didn’t shoot the ball the way that I know they’re capable of, but I thought they showed tremendous fight.”

A crowd of around 2,500 (5,838 tickets issued) at the Stan Sheriff Center watched the Rainbow Warriors improve to 6-2 with their third straight win. Hawai’i knocked off previously undefeated San Francisco on Friday night, and had one day to prepare for HPU.

It was an exhibition game for the NCAA Division II Sharks, whose record will remain 2-2.

Senior guard Eddie Stansberry led the Warriors with 15 points, including 13 during a first-half stretch when Hawai’i regrouped after an inauspicious start. Junior point guard Drew Buggs added nine points, five rebounds and five assists; junior forward Samuta Avea and sophomore center Dawson Carper scored eight points each.

But in general, the Warriors struggled on offense – particularly in the opening minutes of the game – and could not pull away from the Sharks in the second half.

“We’re just upset with ourselves,” Buggs said. “We felt that we should have played better and we didn’t play to the level that we’re capable of. Most importantly, we stuck it out on defense. We defended really well for 40 minutes and we were able to get the win.”

Photo courtesy Matt Osumi

The combination of Hawai’i’s defense and HPU’s off-target shooting resulted in dismal offensive numbers for the Sharks. Of note, HPU shot 30 percent from the field (18 for 60), including 6.3 percent (1 for 16) from 3-point range. The Sharks missed their first 15 3-point attempts before Jacob Foy made one with less than two minutes remaining, when the game was already decided.

“The one thing I know about (HPU) is I know they have some guys who can shoot the ball,” Gerlufsen said. “We talked about limiting them from 3, and 1 of 16 from 3 is pretty good. I thought they had some clean looks that they just missed, but overall I thought our defensive game plan was spot on.”

The Warriors needed to be at their defensive best, particularly in the first half, when both teams struggled to put the ball through the hoop.

Buggs scored on UH’s opening possession for a 2-0 lead, but the Warriors then missed their next eight consecutive shots and fell behind 6-2.

The Sharks had a 9-4 lead after the first eight minutes of the game, but Hawai’i rallied with a 9-0 surge to take a 13-9 advantage. Avea ignited the surge with a highlight-reel follow-dunk off a miss by Buggs.

“The start, it was rough,” Buggs said. “But we knew that we were going to start knocking down shots. We knew that we were doing a good job of defending, and if we stayed solid on defense we were going to get the shots that we wanted to get. They came out with a lot of energy and we came out a little flat. We just talked in the huddle amongst ourselves, said we have to get it together, we have to pick it up, and that’s what we did.”

Photo courtesy Brandon Flores

After the slow start, Hawai’i out-scored the Sharks 21-6 over the final 11 minutes of the first half and took a 25-15 lead at intermission. Stansberry scored 13 of UH’s 21 points during that stretch.

“I’ve said it previously in the year, when you have a guard like Drew Buggs and other players on the perimeter that make it very easy to open up the space around the perimeter for myself, they make it easy for me,” Stansberry said.

Meanwhile, HPU shot just 6 for 28 (21.4 percent) from the field in the first half, including 0 for 10 rom 3-point range.

The Warriors  maintained the momentum in the second half, and increased their lead to 44-23 with 10:35 remaining in the second half.

Several UH reserves got extended minutes in the second half, including freshmen Bernardo da Silva, Zoar Nedd, Kameron Ng, and Justin Webster. Da Silva finished with four points and three rebounds in 15 minutes, and Nedd made the first 3-pointer of his career late in the game.

Hawai’i finished the game shooting 45.5 percent (25 for 55), including 35 percent from 3-point range (7 for 20). However, the Warriors had their worst free-throw shooting game of this season, converting just 1 of 5 (20 percent) from the line.

Following the victory over San Francisco on Friday, the Warriors had just one day to prepare for HPU. What’s more, the Warriors will be departing Honolulu on Thursday for a road game at nationally-ranked Oregon on Saturday, December 7. The Ducks were ranked No. 10 last week in the USA Today Coaches Top 25 Poll.

“You had a big emotional win on Friday night, and had a short turnaround,” Gerlufsen said. “You always worry about how your team is going to respond. We talked about it with the team and as a staff we tried to push all the buttons that we know how to push … I felt good about the group. I felt we had a mature approach. We just didn’t play our best.”

HPU was led by Tavon Tarpley’s nine points. Ronald Blain, who is the team’s leading scorer this season at 11.5 points per game, was limited to four points on 1-of-15 shooting, although he grabbed a game-high eight rebounds.

The Warriors once again played without head coach Eran Ganot, who remains on an undisclosed and indefinite leave of absence for medical reasons.

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