Senior Hiram Thompson scored 21 points and freshman Bo Barnes had 19 in his first college game as Hawaii delivered a 77-59 victory over Montana State in Gib Arnold’s Division I head coaching debut tonight at the Stan Sheriff Center.
It was tied at 32 at halftime, but Thompson and Barnes scored 11 apiece after the break as the Rainbows pulled away gradually.
Joston Thomas added 18 points for the Rainbows.
Bobby Howard led the Bobcats with 17 points and Erik Rush added 15.
Arnold, whose father Frank Arnold also coached at Hawaii, was hired to replace Bob Nash after last season. Frank Arnold was among the 4,735 in attendance.
Thompson made eight of nine shots from the field.
"I’m thrilled to have a player like Hiram Thompson represent us," Arnold said. "As a senior and captain he put us on his shoulders and willed us to victory. Pleased with the team win."
Hawaii outrebounded Montana State 44-30.
Barnes shot 7 of 13 from the field, including 5 of 9 from three-point range. He led UH with 36 minutes played.
"How fun is Bo Barnes to watch? He’s an assassin," Arnold said.
Arnold said improved defense in the final 28 minutes keyed the win.
The Bobcats led 23-15 on Danny Piepoli’s 3-pointer at the 8:15 mark of the first half. It was the latest in a barrage of long shots by Montana State, which made 8-of-14 of them in the first half.
"In the second-to-last timeout (of the first half) we challenged them a little bit," Arnold said. "It was the guys coming out, and they said they worked too hard to let them get open shots."
Hawaii took a 31-26 lead on Thompson’s 3-pointer with 2:33 left before the break. Montana State battled back, but Thomas’ free throw tied it with no time left in the half.
UH never trailed after Thompson hit from behind the arc 12 seconds into the second half.
"It was a combination of things," Montana State coach Brad Huse said. "I thought their guards got away from us, go to the basket on us and drew fouls. We got a little frustrated on the offensive end and had a hard time scoring. A combination of their defense and then our inability to keep them out of the paint."