HONOLULU – The University of Hawai’i started the 2017-18 season on a winning note with an 82-70 win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff in the Outrigger Resorts Rainbow Classic Friday night at the Stan Sheriff Center.
The Rainbow Warriors were carried by the front court of Mike Thomas, Gibson Johnson, and Jack Purchase. In his return to the court after redshirting last year, Thomas tallied 19 points, including of 13-of-16 from the line. Johnson tied his career-high with 19 points and added a team-high nine rebounds, while Purchase had 18 points and a career-high eight assists.
UH led for nearly the entire game though needed to stave off an Arkansas-Pine Bluff (0-1) run midway through the second half. The Golden Lions, who stayed in the game by draining 10 three-pointers, got a game-high 25 points from Martaveous McKnight.
UH trailed just once, 3-2, in the opening minute, but scored nine of the game’s next points and wouldn’t trail again. The ‘Bows led 46-36 at the break and scored the first six points of the second half to build its largest lead of the game at 16.
The Golden Lions responded with a 17-4 run that pulled them within three, 56-53, with 10 minutes left in the game. UH, however, scored nine unanswered points – kick-started by Purchase three-pointer, to build its lead back to double-digits and squash any comeback hopes for Pine Bluff.
The teams combined for 66 free throw attempts, with UH attempting 42. The ‘Bows out-scored the Golden Lions 32-10 in the paint and shared the ball with 20 assists on 25 field goals. Purchase and Johnson combined for 13 of those assists with just one turnover.
In the tournament’s first game, North Dakota defeated Troy 83-80, behind 41 points by Geno Crandall.
The Rainbow Warriors will next take on North Dakota on Sunday, Nov. 13 at 5 p.m. Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Troy will precede that game at 2:30 p.m.