‘Bows open road trip with victory over UC-Riverside

Stefan Jankovic celebrates a basket with Isaac Fleming and Mike Thomas

Quincy Smith dropped a career-high 17 points to lead four players in double figures as the University of Hawai’i men’s basketball team grinded out an 80-71 road win over UC Riverside in Big West Conference action on Thursday night at SRC Arena. The game was the conference road opener for the ‘Bows who improved to 14-2 overall and 3-0 in league play.

The ‘Bows, who matched their best league start since the 2012-13 season, dominated the paint to the tune of a 36-22 advantage. Mike Thomas, Stefan Jankovic and Isaac Fleming each had 15 points with Thomas one short of a double-double with nine rebounds.

Jaylen Bland posted a game-high 22 points for the Highlanders who fall to 9-10 and 0-3 in the Big West. Secean Johnson had 21 points and Alex Larsson added six blocks.

The ‘Bows led by double digits for most of the game until a second-half run by Riverside shaved the lead to as close as five points. A Bland three pointer sparked a 9-1 run capped by Jackson’s layup to bring UCR to within five points with just under eight minutes to play.

Down the stretch though it were the ‘Bows who came up with timely buckets and near perfect efficiency from the free throw line that sealed the win. Fleming and Thomas threw down late dunks as UH never let Riverside get closer than five points.

It was a fast start to the game for the ‘Bows as Fleming and Jankovic both hit threes to give UH an early 8-3 lead. Smith, who connected on his first four shots, delivered back-to-back layups as part of a 6-0 run to extend the lead to 14-7.

UH’s largest lead came when Smith scored on a layup inside of two minutes to put the ‘Bows up 37-23.

Hawai’i finishes its first Big West road trip Saturday, Jan. 16 against Cal State Fullerton. Tip-off at Titan Gym is set for 6:00 p.m. PT (4:00 p.m. HT) and will be streamed live on ESPN3.

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