The Hawaii men’s basketball team gradually sped up the pace on Northern Arizona in a 76-66 win in Flagstaff, Ariz., today for the Rainbow Warriors’ fourth straight victory.
UH (6-2) snapped a streak of six mainland nonconference losses by shooting 55.2 percent in a 51-point second half after the game was tied at 25 at halftime.
In 7,000-foot elevation and surrounded by freezing winter weather outside the Walkup Skydome, the Rainbow Warriors capitalized on 21 Lumberjacks turnovers by outscoring the hosts 29-12 on giveaways. UH committed just 12 turnovers.
UH’s guards made up for a quiet night by the Rainbows’ frontcourt.
Junior guard Garrett Nevels led UH with 24 points on 9-for-15 shooting, including 4-for-7 on 3-pointers. Junior point guard Keith Shamburger scored all of his 15 points in the second half, making all 10 of his free-throw attempts, and senior guard Brandon Spearman added 13 points on 6-for-9 shooting.
Forward Christian Standhardinger was held to a season-low six points on 1-for-8 shooting. His lone field goal came with less than five minutes to play. Frontcourt mate Isaac Fotu scored just six while playing with a fractured right hand.
NAU (2-7) of the Big Sky Conference was out for payback from UH’s 34-point win in a BracketBusters game in Honolulu last season. The Lumberjacks shot 10-for-22 on 3-pointers to stay in it.
But UH broke away with a 13-0 run in the final 10 minutes.
Nevels nailed his third 3-pointer for a 39-35 lead with 15 minutes to play, and followed it with a layup for UH’s largest lead to that point.
Center Davis Rozitis converted layups around an NAU turnover under its own basket, and wing Aaron Valdes soared in for a score for a 47-37 advantage.
NAU came back within four, but Spearman answered with a 3 and a strong take to the basket for a 58-49 lead.
Shamburger added a 3-pointer and Nevels had a breakaway layup for a 10-0 run and a 63-49 lead with under six minutes to play.Standhardinger, UH’s leading scorer on the season, added his lone field goal to make it a 13-0 run.
NAU scored seven straight to get back within 66-56 with three minutes remaining, but Shamburger hit two free throws to stem the run.
UH survived a flagrant 1-foul call on Shamburger with 41 seconds left. NAU got to within 72-66 on the flagrant free throws but no closer as the ‘Jacks turned it over.
UH held NAU’s leading scorer, Max Jacobsen, scoreless until 11 minutes remained in the game.
The ‘Bows came out in their green road jerseys for the first time this season. The ‘Jacks went up 11-5 early, but UH went on an 8-0 run to reclaim the lead based on NAU turnovers.
UH led 24-20, but NAU scored the next five points. The ‘Bows tied it at 25 on a Quincy Smith free throw going into halftime.
Hawaii continues play next Saturday vs. Chaminade at Kauai High School.