Hawaii’s defense showed up all night against Hawaii Pacific. It was only a matter of time until the Rainbow Warriors’ offense made an appearance, too.
After a first-half lull, UH routed HPU 72-50 for a much-needed, if expected, victory over its Division II neighbor last night at the Stan Sheriff Center.
A turnstile crowd of 3,140 saw the Rainbows (6-2) remain perfect in six home games this season. Junior shooting guard Zane Johnson put up a career-high 18 points — all on 3-pointers — as UH overcame awful free-throw shooting with suffocating defense and strong inside play.
HPU never found a groove against UH’s alternating man and zone defenses, and was held to 29.7 percent shooting to 45.6 for UH. Behind UH’s centers, Doug Kurtz (eight points, 12 rebounds) and starter Vander Joaquim (10 points), HPU was outrebounded 51-34 and outscored in the paint 32-12.
It was UH’s first 50-rebound game since posting 56 against Alcorn State on Nov. 18, 2007.
Starting both halves well was emphasized by UH coach Gib Arnold. The Rainbows did with 10-2 and 9-0 runs.
"We got back to shooting. We got back to running a little bit," Arnold said. "I was pleased with how the guys kept the pressure on them."
Johnson landed the staggering blows against a game Sea Warriors squad that clawed within 28-26 with 1:33 to play in the first half. He put his team ahead by double figures in the final minute of the period with three straight 3s, including one from the right wing to beat the halftime buzzer.
"Coach just said keep grinding, keep going, and we did and it turned around," said Johnson, who played in the post some and grabbed nine rebounds. "I felt real good. The coaches tell me every day, it starts on the defensive end. … I had my rhythm, I had my legs, and the offense comes."
He got solid support from point guards Bobby Miles and Hiram Thompson, who started together for the first time this season and combined to post nine assists against one turnover. Thompson added 15 points and Miles nine.
UH was coming off losses of twos – two road defeats and two reserve players who left the team earlier in the week.
"I think we had our best week of practice actually this week, I think that it showed in our execution," Arnold said. "It carried over into the game."
HPU (3-6) had the misfortune of playing a game on the third consecutive day. Meanwhile, UH was well rested since its loss against BYU on Dec. 4.
"You always get better when you play good competition, and this is some of the best competition we’ll have this year," HPU coach Darren Vorderbruegge said. "It was our third night in a row, so it was a good experience from the viewpoint of toughness, to not make excuses."
HPU’s scorer Nick Frazier and starting forwards Marcus Lewis and Adrian den Dulk combined to shoot 3-for-24.
The opening 5 minutes played to form, as the Rainbows jumped out to a 10-2 lead. But then the Sea Warriors got hot and went ahead 13-12 on LaBrent Chappell’s 3-pointer from the right wing with 12:11 to play in the half.
Sparked by Johnson’s barrage, UH went on an 18-0 run bridging the halves and maintained a 20-point lead most of the way.
The 7-foot Kurtz fouled out in 23 minutes but still played easily his best game in two years as a Rainbow. He towered over the Sea Warriors’ tallest player at 6-foot-9.
"I think it was a good game. It was an opportunity to get some touches in there," Kurtz said. "Just raise my confidence. (I’ve been) ready for some more time on the floor, and tonight was a good chance for it."
UH missed nine of first 12 attempts at the stripe and finished 11-for-23. But the game was never close enough in the second half to affect the outcome.
Arnold played all nine active players.
Sophomore swingman Kyle Allen led HPU with 15 points, while center Jason Jackson added 14.
In the only other regular-season meeting between the teams, HPU defeated UH 79-69 on Dec. 14, 1985, when UH was led by Arnold’s father, Frank.
The Rainbows must now contend with both finals week and preparation for meeting their next opponent, Chicago State, at the Lahaina Civic Center on Friday.
HAWAII 72, HAWAII PACIFIC 50
|SEA WARRIORS (3-6)|
|RAINBOW WARRIORS (6-2)|
Key – fg-a: field goals made-attempted; ft-a: free throws made-attempted; rb: rebounds; pf: personal fouls; pts: total points; a: assists; to: turnovers; min: minutes played.
Halftime – Hawaii 37, HPU 26
3-point goals – HPU 5-18 (Allen 2-2, Chappell 2-5, Steinhoff 1-5, Frazier 0-1, White 0-1, Jackson 0-1, Prince 0-3), Hawaii 9-21 (Johnson 6-9, Thompson 2-5, Miles 1-3, Thomas 0-1, Barnes 0-3).
Steals – HPU 6 (Jackson 2, Den Dulk, Simcox, Allen, Prince), Hawaii 5 (Thompson 2, Thomas, Wiseman, Kurtz). Blocked shots – HPU 1 (Allen), Hawaii 2 (Miles, Kurtz). Officials – Todd Apo, Eric Morales, Ryan Wells. A- 3,140.