The University of Hawai‘i men’s basketball team took down the New Orleans Privateers behind strong play from all their starters. Four of the five starters scored in double-digits for the Rainbow Warriors (4-2) in the 79-71 Sunday night victory at the Stan Sheriff Center. Each starter finished with a positive +/- rating, making their impact felt on the scoreboard. Senior guard Eddie Stansberry led the way with a game-best 24 points, on an efficient 6-9 shooting performance.
Senior forward Zigmars Raimo flirted with a double-double, finishing with 15 points and a team-leading 9 total rebounds. He also picked up 4 assists and 3 steals. Juniors Samuta Avea and Drew Buggs were next with 12 and 11 points respectively. Buggs led the game with 7 assists.
Sophomore center Dawson Carper nearly made it a clean sweep for the starting lineup, finishing just shy of double-digits with 10 points. But of all the starters, Carper made the biggest impact on the scoreboard when he was in the lineup, finishing with a +15 +/- rating.
Meanwhile, freshman guard Justin Webster continues to progress for the ‘Bows. In a little over 10 minutes, he finished with a season-high 6 points, knocking down a pair of triples in clutch situation. His presence was felt all over the court, as he also racked up 3 rebounds and 2 assists.
The ‘Bows finished with a 34-27 rebounding advantage over the Privateers, despite the absence of a double-digit rebounder. Every Hawai‘i player that played for at least two minutes finished with 2 or more rebounds, with Raimo’s 9 rebounds leading the way.
After New Orleans took the early lead, Stansberry didn’t wait much longer to get his big night started. Following a Raimo and-1 layup and a Privateer jumper in response, Stansberry laid the ball into the basket for the first of his team-best 11 first half points. Stansberry’s lay-in flipped the lead for the third time in the opening two minutes.
The back-and-forth continued, as New Orleans retook the lead with a pair of free throws. After a Carper layup to tie the game, Stansberry knocked down his first triple of the game to force the last lead change of the first half. The Privateers would come back to tie the game a couple times, but they wouldn’t take the lead again as the ‘Bows carried a 31-29 lead into the break.
The halftime UH lead didn’t last for long, as Privateer guard Bryson Robinson knocked down a triple on the opening possession of the second half. New Orleans held on to the on-and-off lead, despite Carper and Raimo’s efforts flipping the score, until the 16:42 mark. Trailing 39-37, Stansberry stepped up right on cue to knock down a triple that gave Hawai‘i a lead it would hold on to until the end of the game. Avea padded the lead with an emphatic dunk over a Privateer defender, before a Drew Buggs steal turned into a Raimo fast break layup to open up a 6-point ‘Bows lead.
A pair of New Orleans free throws and a Privateer steal led to guard Troy Green’s game tying triple with 14:20 left to play. The sequence was the first of three ties in the following two minutes, as Privateer Damion Rossier took matters into his own hands with a layup for the second tie, and an and-1 conversion to tie it up for the last time at 12:49.
Buggs broke the tie with five straight points, shaking the defender out of his shoes for a step-back jumper before nailing a three-point jumper. New Orleans would go on to stay in the game, coming with one point of tying the game several times, but never able to do so. A 7-0 Hawai‘i run with two minutes left to play essentially ended the game, pushing the UH advantage to 9 points. A pair of Raimo free throws later pushed the lead to 10, their largest of the game, with seconds on the clock. But the Privateers responded with two freebies of their own in the dying seconds to set the final deficit at 8 points.
The Rainbow Warriors return to the Stan Sheriff Center to host San Fransisco on Nov. 29 at 7:30 p.m. HST.