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Hawaii basketball team beats Rhode Island for fifth in Diamond Head Classic

Brian McInnis
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DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARADVERTISER.COM

This is second half action as UH beats Rhode Island 68-60 to take 5th place in the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic basketball tournament in the Stan Sheriff Center. This is UH’s Eddie Stansberry (3) going up for 2 under pressure from Rhode Island’s Fatts Russell (1).

The Hawaii basketball team prevailed in a back-and-fourth battle over Rhode Island, 68-60, to pick up fifth place in the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic today at the Stan Sheriff Center.

A Christmas Day crowd of 1,728 was on hand to see UH (8-5) secure an impressive victory for the second time in three days after losing to UNLV on the opening day of the tournament.

Forward Zigmars Raimo scored a career-high 19 points on 8-for-12 shooting from the field. Point guard Drew Buggs contributed 12 points and eight rebounds. Brocke Stepteau came off the bench for 11 points and Eddie Stansberry overcame a slow start to finish with 11.

There were 17 lead changes. Stansberry had the go-ahead basket on his lone 3 of the game to make it 52-51 with 6:22 remaining.

Forward Cyril Langevine had 11 points and 14 rebounds for URI (6-5) of the Atlantic 10 Conference.

Raimo, Buggs, Stepteau and Jack Purchase combined for 30 of UH’s 34 first-half points.

On UH’s final possession of the first half, Stepteau drove into the lane, nearly lost the ball, kicked it out and the ’Bows swung it into the corner to Purchase, who got the ball out of his hand just before the buzzer and nailed the 3-pointer for a 34-32 lead at intermission.

UH went up 46-44 on a pass ahead from Buggs to Raimo, who went airborne and dumped it off to Eddie Stansberry for a three-point play. Stansberry had missed his previous seven shots to that point.

The Rams reclaimed the advantage on a pull-up 3 from Jeff Dowtin (17 points), but only for a moment as Stansberry swished a wing 3 at the other end. Purchase followed with a three-point play the next trip down and UH had its largest lead to that point at 55-51.

Stepteau’s free throws made it a six-point game with 4:06 left. URI struggled to generate offense and it missed the front end on three straight 1-and-1 free throws.

Coming out of a timeout, Dowtin hit a corner 3, plus the foul on Buggs — the guard’s fourth — but missed the free throw on the potential four-point play. UH remained up by three.

Christion Thompson’s second-effort bucket brought URI within 60-58 with 2:23 left.

Stepteau’s leaner with a minute left put UH back up four. The Rams missed a 3 and took a foul on Stansberry, who made both.

The teams traded layups, URI missed a 3 and Stansberry hit two more at the line. Raimo scored on a leak-out basket to complete the scoring.

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