The Hawaii basketball team asserted control after lapses in the opening minutes of each half of a 74-57 Big West win over Long Beach State tonight.
UH (13-7, 4-2 BWC) moved into a tie for third in the conference with UC Santa Barbara, which visits Saturday for an 8 p.m. contest. The Rainbow Warriors improved to 2-1 during their four-game homestand.
The Rainbows were tagged with a bevy of fouls (27), but LBSU (8-14, 2-4), loser of four straight games, couldn’t make them pay for it, shooting only 14-for-30 from the foul line — including three airballed free throws.
Senior guard Brocke Stepteau was a steady hand off the bench, supplying 16 points on 4-for-8 shooting from the field and 8-for-10 from the line, while grabbing four rebounds and dealing five assists with no turnovers, setting the tone for a nine-turnover team effort. Guard Eddie Stansberry added 14 points on 4-for-12 3-point shooting and forward Zigmars Raimo held the line down low against the physical 49ers with 11 points and eight rebounds.
A Stan Sheriff Center crowd of 3,568 saw LBSU jump out to an 11-2 lead, but UH countered with a 25-8 run, launched by consecutive corner 3s from Samuta Avea, to go up as many as 12 points in the half.
Mate Colina dunked it with seconds left in the period for an 11-point UH lead, but LBSU guard Breamon Richard banked in a halfcourt 3 to beat the buzzer and cut the deficit to 36-28 at halftime.
Mason Riggins (18 points, seven rebounds) leaked out for a dunk and cut it to 39-36, but Avea came back with a spin move for a basket, plus the foul.
Riggins ducked inside for a basket, and-1, and LBSU got a steal. Riggins got a putback, plus the foul again, but missed the free throw again and UH remained ahead 41-40.
The Rainbows maintained a narrow lead. Consecutive baskets by Drew Buggs pushed the lead back to 53-47 with 10 minutes left.
Buggs’ three-point play pushed it to 10 with 8:19 left. Zigmars Raimo scored twice and Stansberry hit a side-step 3 to give UH six straight makes and a 64-50 advantage. The hosts maintained their double-digit edge the rest of the way.