(Hawaii Athletics) - The University of Hawai'i men's basketball team got back in the win column in a big way with a 62-61 road victory at UC Irvine Thursday night at the Bren Events Center. The Rainbow Warriors improved to 14-10 overall and 5-6 in the Big West while ending its five-game losing streak.
UH led from nearly start to finish, but needed to hold off a second-half bid by the Anteaters (13-15, 8-4) who saw their own five-game win streak halted. UH won despite going just 3-of-24 from the field (12.5 percent) in the second half and converting just one field goal in the final 17 minutes of the game.
The Rainbow Warriors however were clutch at the free throw line going 20-of-24 overall and 17-of-20 in the second half. UH also out-boarded the top rebounding team in the conference (37-36), and committed just eight turnovers for the game. The result was UH's second road win this season and its second win in its last three trips to the Bren Events Center.
While UH struggled offensively in the second half, it was anything but in the first half. The 'Bows took it to the best defensive team in the Big West early, hitting eight of its first 11 shots and leading by as many as 10 points. UH eventually took a 39-32 lead into the locker room after shooting 53 percent and Johnson scoring all 13 of his points in the first 20 minutes.
The Anteaters crept back into the game in the second half and took their first lead, 56-55, on a John Edgar jumper with just five minutes left. The Rainbow Warriors, however, proved resilient. UH hit three free throws on its next two possessions and never trailed again. In all, UH hit 7-of-8 from the line in the final three minutes, including four straight by Mike Thomas in the final 90 seconds.
UCI had one final chance at the end but Eyassu Worku's three-pointer was off the mark at the buzzer. For the evening, UH held the Anteaters to just 3-of-20 from behind the arc. The 'Bows also held their own down low as the teams were even (26-26) in points in the paint.
UH next plays at UC Riverside on Saturday, Feb. 17 looking to avenge a loss in Honolulu 10 days earlier. Tipoff is at 7:30 p.m. PT/5:30 p.m. HT.