Samuta Avea Dunk

Samuta Avea (32) slams home an emphatic dunk in the 'Bows 94-73 win over Samford at the Stan Sheriff Center. 

The centennial ‘Bows nearly lived up to their name, falling just short of 100 points in a wire-to-wire 94-73 beatdown of the Samford Bulldogs. The 94 points represents the highest scoring output for the Rainbow Warriors (7-3) since the 2016-17 season, when the ‘Bows took down Long Beach State in a 114-107 overtime bout. It is also the first time Hawai‘i has crossed the 90-point threshold in over a year.

The Rainbow Warriors racked up 24 assists, compared to just 9 for Samford. Senior forward Zigmars Raimo picked up a game-best 8 assists, spreading the wealth around to the tune of 5 double-digit ‘Bows scorers, led by senior guard Eddie Stansberry’s game-high 23 points. Behind him, true freshman Justin Webster continues to grow more comfortable with the offense, knocking in a career-best 15 points on the strength of 4 triples. Sophomore center Dawson Carper clocked in next at 14 points, with juniors Samuta Avea and Drew Buggs not far behind with 12 and 11 respectively.

Buggs also finished with an efficient 5 assists, compared to just a single turnover. Meanwhile, Raimo’s 8 assists were part of a near triple-double, as the forward finished with 7 points, 8 assists, and 11 total rebounds, which led all rebounders in the game. Raimo made the biggest impact on the scoreboard, as the ‘Bows were a +32 with him on the court.

Three of the team’s double-digit scorers got their nights started early, as Carper, Avea, and Stansberry combined to lead the ‘Bows out of the gate on a 7-0 run. A Samford layup to break up the run was met with an Avea and-1, before Justin Webster knocked down his first triple to make it a double-digit UH lead.

The ‘Bows continued to score, with the Bulldogs occasionally chipping in with a score here or there. Before long, Hawai‘i held a 19-point lead. Perhaps too little too late, Samford eventually began to whittle away at the lead. An 8-0 run cut the deficit back down to 11, but Stansberry’s triple quickly put an end to the rally. Two free throws by Avea later, the ‘Bows again held a 16-point lead.

Following an emphatic Avea slam to keep the lead at 16, the Bulldogs decided they’d had enough. Led by electric Samford guard Josh Sharkey, the Bulldogs clawed their way back with bucket after bucket, until they trailed by just 4. With the early UH advantage all but gone, the ‘Bows needed to go back to what had worked earlier in the game. The opening trio of Avea, Carper, and Stansberry again led Hawai‘i on a 7-0 run, as two layups and a triple gave the ‘Bows an 11-point lead at the break.

The momentum from the first half carried into the second. After Buggs’ knocked down a triple to open the frame, Hawai‘i took off on a quick 7-2 run to again widen the gap to 19. With the ‘Bows finally pulling away for good, the game turned chippy. However, as the tensions grew, so too did the Hawai‘i lead.

With every Samford attempt to change the momentum and with it the advantage, the ‘Bows found an answer. After two Raimo layups and a Webster triple, Hawai‘i pushed their lead to a game-high 27 points. Samford continued finding ways to score, but could never cut deep into the UH lead as the ‘Bows coasted to the 94-73 win.

With the win, the ‘Bows have aced their final test before the upcoming Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic. The Rainbow Warriors return to the Stan Sheriff Center on Dec. 22 at 6:30 p.m. HST to host UTEP in the opening round of the tournament.