(Hawaii Athletics) - The University of Hawai'i men's basketball team used a strong second-half effort on both ends of the court to pull away from Howard, 84-59, Friday night at the Stan Sheriff Center. The Rainbow Warriors enjoyed their largest margin of victory this year, while closing out its non-conference schedule with a 9-4 mark.
Hawai'i, which shot 55 percent for the game, got double-digit scoring from five different players, including a season-high 22 points from Jack Purchase. The junior forward drilled six three-pointers, part of the team's season-high 13 on the night.
A scrappy Bison squad (3-13) trailed by just two points at half, in large part due to the efforts of freshman R.J. Hollis, who a game after scoring 42 points had 17 points against UH by the half. UH, however, played shut-down defense in the second half as Hollis was limited to just five points after the break, while the Bison shot just 27 percent from the field.
UH got off to a hot start to start the game, hitting seven of its first eight shots and taking a 10-point lead early on. But then the Bison started heating up, as Cole and fellow freshman Kyle Foster combined for six three-pointers to help Howard seize a four-point lead on a pair of occasions. Purchase hit a three-pointer in the waning seconds to give UH a 38-36 lead and much-needed momentum going into the halftime locker room.
That momentum carried into the second half. UH led 44-43 in the early minutes of the second half, but the 'Bows turned the game with a 17-0 run. Purchase drilled a pair of three-pointers during the run and UH held Howard scoreless for more than six minutes as a one-point lead ballooned to 18.
Other players in double-figures for UH were Sheriff Drammeh (17 points), Brocke Stepteau (13), Mike Thomas (13), and Gibson Johnson (10). UH shared the ball effectively tallying a season-high 22 assists on its 28 field goals. The 'Bows also out-rebounded Howard, 34-23, and forced 17 Bison turnovers.
The Rainbow Warriors now turn their attention to conference play, opening up on the road with games at Long Beach State (Jan. 4) and CSUN (Jan. 6).