Rainbow Warriors win late night thriller over Florida Atlantic

Gibson Johnson // Hawaii Athletics
Gibson Johnson // Hawaii Athletics

Gibson Johnson scored the game-winning bucket with 6.3 seconds remaining to lift the University of Hawai’i men’s basketball team to a thrilling 64-63 nationally-televised win over Florida Atlantic in the finale of the 52nd Outrigger Resorts Rainbow Classic Monday night at the Stan Sheriff Center.

Johnson scored UH’s final five points to help UH erase a four-point deficit in the final minute and give UH to its second-straight heart-stopping win. It marked the second straight year UH won in the waning moments of ESPN’s College Hoops Tipoff Marathon. Last year, the ‘Bows defeated Nevada on a driving Roderick Bobbitt layup.

The ‘Bows finished the tournament with a 2-1 mark, as did Texas State and SIU Edwardsville. Texas State, which defeated SIUE, 86-58, in the evening’s earlier action, claimed the tournament title by virtue of a tie-breaker (least total points allowed in the tournament).

Johnson, who played down the stretch with four fouls, finished with 13 points. Noah Allen recorded his first career double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds, while Sheriff Drammeh added 13 points, three assists and two steals.

Ronald Delph led FAU (0-3) with a game-high 22 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks.

With an 11:15 p.m. tip, both teams came out sloppy in the late-night affair. During one early stretch the teams combined to miss 16-of-17 shots. UH shot just 31 percent in the first half, but held a 30-27 lead at the break.

A 16-3 run bridging the halves gave UH a nine-point advantage minutes into the second half, the team’s biggest lead of the game. The Rainbow Warriors nursed that lead for most of the way, until FAU surged ahead with a stunning 8-0 run that gave the Owls a 63-59 lead with 1:07 remaining.

That’s when Johnson took over. A three-point play by the 6-8 forward put UH within one with 49 seconds remaining. After FAU’s Nick Rutherford missed the front-end of a one-and-one, UH retained possession with 18 seconds setting up the final sequence of events as Gibson got the ball down low again and powered his way in for the winning basket. FAU’s had one last chance, but UH contested Frank Booker’s three-point heave which fell well short of the mark.

The Rainbow Warriors return to the court on Friday, Nov. 18 when they face No. 5 North Carolina. Tipoff is set for 8:00 p.m. at the Stan Sheriff Center.

All-Tournament Team
Noah Allen, Hawai’i
Ronald Delph, Florida Atlantic
Sheriff Drammeh, Hawai’i
Tre Harris, SIUE
Nijal Pearson, Texas State
MOP: Kavin Gilder-Tilbury, Texas State

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