Not having Mike Thomas in the game did not going to stop the Rainbow Warrior basketball team from winning. His absence only indicated that it was the next man up, and Zigmars Raimo did just that; he drilled in a career-high 17 points in 22 minutes off the bench.
“I’m so proud of him; he’s such a testament to attitude,” head coach Eran Ganot said. “His attitude never wavered when he wasn’t playing this much, he continued to work in practice, he continued to support his team. He ignited this stretch for us.”
Hawai‘i avenged its previous 79-71 loss against Long Beach State on Jan. 4 with a 74-63 victory on Feb. 23 at the Stan Sheriff Center.
UH came off a pair of road sweeps at UC Irvine and Riverside and brought that momentum and energy against the 49ers.
At one point during the first half, UH held LBSU scoreless for over four minutes. Many of the Rainbow Warriors had a solid first half, most notably freshman guard Drew Buggs. Buggs seemed to do a little bit of everything in the first half; scoring six points, grabbing four rebounds, dishing out two assists and having an emphatic block that sent the crowd into a frenzy. UH shot 53 percent from the field and allowed no field goals in the last 5:46 of the first half. The ‘Bows were 34-25 going into the locker room.
The 49ers opened the second half going on a 7-0 run that was ended by junior guard Sheriff Drammeh’s three-pointer. Drammeh's three-pointer woke the Rainbow Warriors up and set the pace for the rest of the game. Raimo took over from there, scoring 13 of his 17 points in the second half. The game was sealed by a pair of free throws by junior guard Brocke Septeau, winning 74-63.
Alongside Raimo, Buggs seized 10 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals. Buggs tied the freshman steal record for a single season with his performance. Stepteau also added 10 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists, while senior forward Gibson Johnson added 13 points and 5 rebounds.
When asked about how the Rainbow Warriors have bounced back from a five-game losing streak to a third game winning streak, Buggs said, “We learn from our mistakes. We learn the hard way. That losing streak hurt but it was a humbling experience.”
This game marks the third straight victory for the Rainbow Warriors. UH looks to end its season on a high note, attempting to get its fourth straight victory on the last home game of the season. It’ll be senior night for Johnson and Thomas as they take on UC Irvine this Saturday.
“Our team always plays hard, playing with a chip with respect,” Ganot said.