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Warriors win Big West opener at UC Riverside, 88-83

Photo courtesy Julie Kim

It was worth the wait for the University of Hawai’i basketball team. Twenty days after their last contest, the Rainbow Warriors responded with an 88-83 victory over UC Riverside on Friday at the SRC Arena in Riverside, Calif.

James Jean-Marie scored 24 points and Junior Madut added 21 to lead the Warriors, who were playing for the first time since December 19. It was also the Big West Conference season opener, the first road game of the season, and the first game against a NCAA Division I opponent this season.

Hawai’i is now 3-0 overall and 1-0 in the conference. The Highlanders dropped to 3-2 and 0-1.

The same teams will play again on Saturday at 4 p.m. (2 p.m. Hawai’i time) at the SRC Arena.

Jean-Marie, who started at center for the first time this season, connected on 10 of 15 shots from the field, including 3 of 4 from 3-point range. He scored 16 in the second half, and sparked the surge that allowed Hawai’i to hold off UCR late in the game.

Madut, a 6-foot-6 junior, shot 7 for 11 from the field, and added a team-high seven rebounds, three assists and three steals. He also went 4 for 4 on free throws in the closing seconds to help secure the win.

Noel Coleman added 11 points, and Justin Webster scored 10 for the Warriors, who were playing for the first time since December 19.

The Warriors took the lead early in the first half, then maintained the advantage the rest of the way.

Back-to-back breakaway dunks by Justin Hemsley and Jean-Marie capped a 7-0 run that gave the Warriors a 20-15 lead with 8:42 remaining in the first half. Hawai’i eventually took a 30-26 lead at intermission, with Jean-Marie (eight points) and Madut (seven) combining for half of the Warriors’ points.

The Warriors led by as many as 10 (47-37) with 13:20 remaining in the second half, but the Highlanders immediately responded with an 11-1 run to tie the score at 48 with 11:13 remaining. UCR hit three 3-pointers during the surge.

Jean-Marie scored nine points, including two 3-pointers, during a 13-4 surge that put Hawai’i in control for good at 70-58 with 4:13 remaining. UCR got as close as three (84-81) in the final minute, but Madut drained four consecutive free throws on the next two possessions to complete the scoring.

Hawai’i shot 49.2 percent from the field, including 59.3 percent (16 for 27) in the second half.

The Warriors committed just seven turnovers in the game, while UCR had 15. The Highlanders won the battle of the boards, out-rebounding the Warriors 42-30.

Arinze Chidom led the Highlanders with 20 points, but he shot 8 for 23 from the field, including 1 for 6 from 3-point range. Zyon Pullin added 18 points and 10 rebounds for UCR.

CLICK HERE to view boxscore

HAWAI’I at UC RIVERSIDE
When:  Saturday, Jan. 9 (2:00 pm HT/4:00 pm PT)
Where: SRC Arena â€“ Riverside, Calif.
Television: None
Streaming Video: BigWest.TV 
Radio: Live on 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: GoHighlanders.com

Big West Conference
Friday’s Results

Hawai’i 88, at UC Riverside 83
Long Beach State 82, at Cal State Fullerton 80
at CSU Bakersfield 62, Cal Poly 49
CSUN at UC San Diego, canceled
UC Davis at UC Irvine, canceled
*UC Irvine at UC San Diego, canceled

Saturday’s Games
CSUN at UC San Diego, canceled
UC Davis at UC Irvine, canceled
Hawai’i at UC Riverside, 4:00 p.m. PT
*UC Irvine at UC San Diego, 4:00 p.m. PT
Long Beach State at Cal State Fullerton, 5:00 p.m. PT
Cal Poly at CSU Bakersfield, 7:00 p.m. PT

*Non-conference game

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