Gibson Johnson

Senior forward Gibson Johnson celebrates after a 77-76 victory over UCSB. Johnson led UH with 18 points and shot 8-of-9 from the field.

The Rainbow Warrior basketball team managed to hold off one of the conference's top offensive teams in front of a crowd of 5,719 on Saturday night.

After a fierce second half battle, Hawaiʻi (12-5, 3-1 Big West Conference) edged UC Santa Barbara (12-5, 1-2 BWC) thanks to one of senior forward Gibson Johnson's game ending free throws to improve to 3-1 in the conference. The ʻBows defeated the Gauchos, 77-76.

The game got off to an early shootout when Hawaiʻi led 20-16 at 13:10. UH hit the first seven shots of the game, but the Gauchos responded back with four 3-pointers. At the half, the ʻBows shot 58% and had a 42-33 lead.

Senior forward Mike Thomas started the second half with a quick layup, followed by a 3-point play by Johnson to open up a 49-36 lead at 18:00. The Gauchos went out in full force by scoring 10 unanswered points to trim the lead 55-49 at 12:58. UCSB cut it to a one point deficit from Gabe Vincent's layup, but junior forward Jack Purchase sunk in a huge 3-pointer to help UH stay on top, 67-63.

It went all down to the wire when UCSB countered with three free throws with 42.9 seconds left in the game. UCSB's Marcus Jackson sunk in a 3-pointer at the buzzer, but one of Johnson's free throws at :08 helped UH win the game, 77-76.

Johnson led the ʻBows with 18 points on 8-of-9 from the field. Junior guard Brocke Stepteau added 12 points on two rebounds and five assists. Thomas and junior guard Sheriff Drammeh both added 11 points each.

Next week, the ʻBows will face the UC Davis Aggies with tip-off set for 7 p.m. on Jan. 20.