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Warriors open Big West action at Fullerton on Thursday

In seven previous years in the Big West Conference, only one road destination has proven to be consistently fruitful for the University of Hawai’i basketball team. Fullerton, Calif.

The Rainbow Warriors will try to continue that success when they open the Big West Conference regular season at Cal State Fullerton on Thursday. Hawai’i joined the Big West in 2013 and is an impressive 6-1 against the Titans in Titan Gym since then.

Thursday’s game is scheduled to start at 7:00 p.m. Pacific Time (5:00 p.m. Hawai’i time) at Titan Gym, and it will be streamed live on ESPN3.

The Warriors, who last played on December 29, are 9-5. The Titans are 5-10.

Fullerton’s record is a bit deceiving, as their top player – forward Jackson Rowe – sat out the first 11 games of the season due to injury. Rowe, a 6-foot-7 senior, is averaging 11.8 points and 6.0 rebounds per game while working his way back into game shape over the past four games.

The Titans opened the season 3-3, but then lost seven in a row. They closed out the 2019 calendar year with a bang, scoring a 77-74 upset road win at UCLA on December 28. The momentum carried into 2020, as Fullerton routed St. Katherine, a NAIA program, 104-52, on January 3.

Rowe had 17 points and 11 rebounds in the upset win at UCLA. While Rowe was out, Austen Awosika, a 6-3 senior guard, emerged as a go-to player. He is averaging 14.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game.

Brandon Kamga, a 6-5 senior grad transfer from High Point, has made an immediate impact with 11.9 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. Wayne Arnold, a 6-4 sophomore guard, is contributing 11.3 points per game and leads the team with 33 3-pointers.

Aside from Rowe, the Titans rely on a rotation of “bigs,” including 6-6 senior Davon Clare (8.3 points, 5.9 rebounds per game), 6-8 freshman Vincent Lee (4.9 points, 3.1 rebounds per game), and 6-9 junior Johnny Wang (3.1 points, 2.9 rebounds per game).

Hawai’i will be playing its first game of 2020. The Warriors closed 2019 with a 91-51 rout of Maine on December 29. That was head coach Eran Ganot’s first game of the season. He missed the first 13 games of the season while on a medical leave of absence.

The Warriors are led by senior guard Eddie Stansberry, who is averaging 16.9 points and 3.4 rebounds per game, and ranks second in the Big West with 44 3-pointers.

Samuta Avea, a 6-6 junior forward, is averaging 11.4 points and 4.2 rebounds per game and ranks second on the team with 27 3-pointers. Drew Buggs, a 6-3 junior point guard, is averaging 9.9 points and 4.1 rebounds per game, and lead the Big West with 5.7 assists per game.

The Warriors also have the current Big West leader in rebounds in 6-9 senior Zigmars Raimo. He is averaging 7.4 rebounds per game along with 9.6 points and 3.9 assists per game. He also leads the team and ranks second in the Big West with 25 steals. Justin Webster (6-3, Fr., G) is averaging 7.3 points per game as the first guard off the bench.

The Titans won the Big West Conference Tournament in 2018, and finished runner-up last season. However, the two main players from those teams – all-conference selections Khalil Ahmad and Kyle Allman Jr. – have moved on to professional basketball in Europe.

The Warriors swept the home-and-home series from Fullerton last season, including a 71-59 victory at Fullerton, Calif.

HAWAI’I (9-5, 0-0 Big West) at CAL STATE FULLERTON (5-10, 0-0 Big West)
When:
Thursday, January 9, 7:00 p.m. Pacific (5:00 p.m. Hawai’i)
Where: Titan Gym (4,000) – Fullerton, Calif..
Television: ESPN3
Streaming Video: WatchESPN.com/ESPN App
Radio: ESPN Honolulu (1420 AM/92.7 FM), KRKH (Maui), KPUA (Hawai’i Island), and KTOH (Kaua’i).
Audio Webcast: ESPNHonolulu.com/Sideline Hawai’i App.
Live Stats: FullertonTitans.com

Big West Conference
Wednesday’s Results

UC Santa Barbara 63, at Cal Poly 45
at CSUN 95, Long Beach State 77

Thursday’s Games
Hawai’i at Cal State Fullerton
UC Riverside at UC Davis

Saturday’s Games
Cal State Fullerton at UC Riverside
CSUN at Cal Poly
Long Beach State at UC Santa Barbara
Hawai’i at UC Irvine

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