Hawaiʻi senior guard Brocke Stepteau made game-high 23 points to lead the Rainbow Warriors (14-8, 5-3 Big West Conference) to a 77-70 win over Long Beach State on Thursday night at Walter Pyramid in California.
This game marks Stepteau’s first start since Jan. 9, replacing senior guard Sheriff Drammeh. Drammeh struggled this past week, going scoreless in two consecutive games.
The first half was a shootout, as the two teams traded shots early. Within the first seven minutes of the game, the lead had changed hands six times.
Senior forward Jack Purchase also came out hot, making 4-of-6 three-pointers. He led the team with 14 points in the first half.
The ‘Bows moved the ball well, as they accumulated 13 team assists in just the first half.
Three-pointers accounted for 66 percent of all made field goals in the first half. As a result, the Rainbow Warriors did not attempt a single free throw in the half.
Both teams shot above 40 percent as Hawai’i took 41-35 lead heading into halftime.
Long Beach State came out hot in the second half with a 9-0 run to retake the lead. Purchase tied the game with his fifth three-pointer of the game at 17:08, but LBSU forward Temidayo Yussuf made a jumper to give the lead back to the 49ers.
With 16:37 left to play in the game, Drammeh knocked down a three to give Hawai’i the lead for good.
Late in the game, LBSU head coach Dan Monson called for a full court press. The strategy worked, as the 49ers used several timely turnovers to make it a two possession game with 1:45 left.
The Rainbow Warriors were able to hold on to the lead as sophomore guard Drew Buggs, junior forward Zigmars Raimo and Stepteau all knocked down clutch free throws.
Purchase finished the game with 17 points, while Raimo finished the game with a double-double (14 pts, 10 rebounds).
Drammeh had a nice bounce-back game, scoring nine points on 3-of-5 shooting off the bench.
This was the ‘Bows’ first win at the Walter Pyramid in seven attempts since joining the Big West conference.
The ‘Bows' next game will be against UC Irvine on Feb. 9 at 5 p.m. HST at Bren Events Center in Irvine.