The Hawaii men’s basketball team emerged from a recent slump to defeat Cal State Fullerton 70-59 tonight at the Stan Sheriff Center.
The Rainbow Warriors (16-11, 7-6 Big West), who’d lost five of their previous six games — including the last two at the Sheriff — forced 22 turnovers and parlayed them into 18 points on the sloppy Titans (10-18, 5-8).
UH assured itself a winning season for the third straight year.
A turnstile crowd of 3,532 saw UH go with a new, smaller starting lineup, with Drew Buggs flanked by guards Eddie Stansberry and Justin Webster, and 6-foot-6 Samuta Avea and 6-9 Zigmars Raimo comprising the frontcourt.
UH scrapped that in the opening minutes after falling behind 7-2.
Buggs, however, enjoyed his second-best scoring night of the season, putting in 20 on 7-for-12 shooting from the floor and 6-for-6 at the line. Stansberry added 15 points and Webster 10.
The Warriors turned to some fullcourt defense to coerce the Titans into 14 first-half turnovers, allowing them to overcome the visitors’ 61.9% shooting in the period and take a 38-36 halftime lead.
UH used an 8-0 run to open a 46-36 lead early in the second half.
Fullerton hung within six points until about seven minutes remained. A Stansberry 3 with 6:36 remaining gave UH its largest lead to that point of 55-44.
A fadeaway jumper by Buggs was followed by an open-court steal by Stansberry, who shoveled it to Webster for a corner 3 and a 62-48 lead. The margin grew to as many as 16 points.
Titans forward Johnny Wang came off the bench to score a career-high 21 points on 7-for-9 shooting.
UH hosts senior night against UC Riverside (15-15, 5-9) on Saturday and will send off Stansberry and Raimo.