Gibson Johnson tied his career best of 19 points and freshman Samuta Avea added a season-best 13 as the Hawaii basketball team bested Division II Adams State 87-77 tonight at the Stan Sheriff Center.
A crowd of 2,378 saw UH (4-1) gradually pull away for the victory after the Grizzlies (2-4) of Alamosa, Colo., hung tough for about 30 minutes, then were turned back after making a last-ditch run to within three points.
UH got only two combined points from frontcourt mainstays Mike Thomas and Jack Purchase, but Avea provided a big lift off the bench. Three other Rainbow Warriors scored in double figures — Leland Green and Brandon Thomas each scored 13, and Brocke Stepteau added 12.
Adams State’s Mike Thomas scored 29 points, a UH opponent season high, on 13-for-16 shooting.
The Grizzlies used an 11-0 run to get within 70-67 with under five minutes left, but UH countered with 3s by Stepteau and Green. Johnson dunked it late and Stepteau put the game away at the free-throw line.
The Grizzlies held UH tight for most of the first half; there were 10 lead changes and only an 8-2 run in the final minutes of the period gave the Rainbows a 40-32 lead at intermission.
UH now prepares to head out for its lone nonconference road game, at Utah of the Pac-12 on Saturday.