Dru Kuxhausen and Daylen Kountz each scored 21 points as Northern Colorado took a 26-point second-half lead and held off a furious rally by Hawaii en route to an 81-78 victory in Thursday’s feature game of the Outrigger Resorts Rainbow Classic at SimpliFi Arena at the Stan Sheriff Center.
The Bears (2-0) led 39-23 at halftime on the strength of 8-of-15 shooting from 3-point land, with Kuxhausen hitting 4-of-6 and scoring 15 first-half points. The Bears built a 57-31 lead before Hawaii went to a zone with a taller lineup that included Kamaka Hepa, Bernardo de Silva and Jerome Desrosiers.
The Rainbows kept chipping away but the Bears converted just enough free throws to stay ahead. UH close to 76-73 with 14.8 seconds left before Kountz hit one of two free throws. Junior Madut’s reverser layup made it 77-75 with 7.2 seconds left.
Dalton Knecht made one of two free throws for a 78-75 lead with 6.4 seconds left. The Bears intentionally fouled and put Jovon McClanahan on the line with 4.1 seconds left. McClanahan made both free throws to make it 78-77 and UH was forced to foul.
Matt Johnson hit both free throws to make it 80-77. Northern Colorado again intentionally fouled to prevent a 3-point shot. With 3.3 seconds left, Noel Coleman hit the first to make it 80-78. He missed the second. Desrosiers got his hands on the ball but it went off his foot with 1.8 seconds left.
Knecht made another free throw with 0.1 seconds left and UH could not execute a long pass inbounds play.
Five UH players scored in double figures, with Derosiers scoring 15, da Silva, Hepa and Coleman with 14 and Madut with 11.
Pacific beat Hawaii-Hilo 85-74 in Thursday’s first game. Luke Avdalovic led the Tigers with 17 points, while the Vulcans’ Aniwaniwa Tait-Jones was game-high with 21.
Pacific, which plays UH in Saturday’s final game of the round-robin tournament, improved to 1-1 while Hilo fell to 0-2. The Vulcans play the Bears on Saturday.