The Hawaii basketball team returned to winning form at home as the Rainbow Warriors topped Long Beach State 74-63 tonight at the Stan Sheriff Center.
UH (16-10, 7-6 Big West) won its third straight overall and snapped its three-game home losing streak before a crowd of 3,320. It avenged an eight-point loss at LBSU to open conference play last month.
Senior forward Mike Thomas missed a second straight game with an unspecified injury, but UH pressed on without its top scorer and rebounder and won the rebounding battle by 12.
Sophomore forward Zigmars Raimo scored a career high 17 points on 6-for-7 shooting in 22 minutes off the bench and senior Gibson Johnson added 13 points. Freshman point guard Drew Buggs was active against his hometown team and fouled out with 10 points, a season-high eight rebounds and three steals. Buggs tied Chris Gaines’ UH freshman season steals mark of 38.
LBSU (13-16, 7-6) lost for the fourth time in five games.
Gabe Levin scored 10 of his team’s first 13 points for an early Beach lead and the senior forward had 14 of his 18 points by halftime to surpass 1,000 career points with LBSU. UH closed the half strong and led 34-25 at intermission despite no player scoring more than six points.
LBSU crept within 46-42, but Buggs’ steal and coast-to-coast layup ended the rally.
Temidayo Yussuf picked up his fourth foul on a rebound attempt with 10:39 to play when his elbow came down on Zigmars Raimo’s head. Raimo converted two 1-and-1 free throws for a 10-point lead. He added two more to match his career high of 11.
Purchase followed with a corner 3 for UH’s largest lead to that point, 57-44, with nine minutes left, and Raimo scored three more times inside to maintain it.
Barry Ogalue cut it to eight on a free throw with five minutes left, but Johnson pushed it back to 10 at the line and followed it up with a scoop layup. Purchase blocked Levin’s fadeaway jumper with under three minutes left, but Bryan Alberts hit a 3 the next trip down to cut it to eight. Brocke Stepteau boosted it back to 10 with a floater and added two more at the line to put it away with a minute left.
UH closes its home schedule with Saturday’s senior night against first-place UC Irvine (15-15, 10-4).