Hawaii forward James Jean-Marie scored 24 points, eight coming in a pivotal second-half burst, and the Rainbow Warrior basketball team held off UC Riverside to open its Big West schedule with an 88-83 win today in Riverside, Calif.
UH saw a 10-point lead with 48 seconds left dwindle to three with 21 seconds remaining. But guard Junior Madut hit four free throws in the final 18 seconds to finish with 21 points and help seal the win.
The Rainbow Warriors (3-0, 1-0 BWC) and Highlanders (3-2, 0-1) meet again Saturday at 2 p.m. Hawaii time.
Jean-Marie, a transfer from San Diego, set his season high on 10-for-15 shooting from the field, including 3-for-4 from 3-point range in his first start of the season. Madut went 7-for-11 from the field with two 3-pointers and was 5-for-6 from the free-throw line.
Arinze Chidom, the Highlanders’ leading scorer at 13.5 points per game entering the week, was held to two points in the first half before breaking loose in the second half to finish with a team-high 20 points. Zyon Pullin added 18 points.
Hawaii edged out to a 30-26 lead at halftime led by Jean-Marie’s eight points on 4-for-7 shooting in his first start of the season. The Highlanders opened up a 27-12 rebounding advantage, but committed 11 turnovers which UH converted into 14 points. The Rainbows turned it over just once in the half.
After UCR battled back from a 10-point deficit to tie the game a 48-48, UH edged away again to lead 62-56 with 5:58 left. Jean-Marie then drained a 3-pointer from the right wing, scored deep in the post, and hit another 3 from the left wing over the span of a minute to stretch the UH lead to 14.
UCR was within eight at 76-68 when Madut connected from long range to push the lead back to double digits.
UH lead 83-73 with 48 seconds left, but Chidom converted a three-point play and George Wilborn converted a steal into a layup to cut the Highlanders’ deficit to five with 31.8 seconds remaining.
After a UH free throw, Flynn Cameron added another three-point play to draw the Highlanders to 84-81 with 21 seconds left.
Madut answered with two free throws with 18 seconds left and added another two following a Cameron layup to seal the outcome.