Despite turmoil, Rainbow Warrior basketball team wins preseason debut
Hawaii starts the regular season next week
HONOLULU - Mike Thomas had a game-high 15 points and Garrett Nevels hit a key three-pointer down the stretch to lift the University of Hawaii Rainbow Warrior basketball team to a 62-55 exhibition win over Hawaii Pacific University on Thursday at the Stan Sheriff Center.
Nevels added 14 points and his three-ball with 1:12 remaining gave the 'Bows a 59-53 lead. Aaron Valdes, who recorded a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds, and Isaac Fleming both hit a pair of free throws in the final minute to seal the win. Fleming added 10 points for the 'Bows.
Darry Jones, Jr. led the Sharks with 12 points and Luke Hager added 10 points and eight rebounds.
The 'Bows held double-digit leads on several occasions but were never able to dispatch the pesky Sharks. UH held its largest lead of 13 points with 7:23 remaining before Justin Long's layup capped a 13-1 HPU run and cut the Rainbow Warrior lead to 52-51. With just under two minutes remaining, Nevels hit a pair of free throws then later his bucket beyond the arc sealed the win.
The Sharks hung around early in the game until a 7-0 spurt by Hawaii pushed the lead to 16-10. Rema Lascelles nailed a three-pointer to halt the run, but the 'Bows would not let up. Fleming found a streaking Valdes who punctuated a 13-3 run with an emphatic dunk.
Both teams cooled off in the later stages of the first half but it was HPU that was able to cut into the lead and trailed the 'Bows just 29-23 at half time.
The 'Bows started the second half sluggish as HPU cut the lead to 31-28 on a Jones jumper. The 'Bows responded and opened up a 10-point lead at the 12:57 mark off buckets by Vales and Roderick Bobbitt (8 pts), and a Thomas alley-oop dunk from Fleming.
5,154 tickets were issued for the game with 504 members of the Manoa Maniacs walking through the turnstiles, a record for a men's basketball exhibition game.
The Rainbow Warriors tip off the season officially next weekend when they host the Outrigger Resorts Rainbow Classic, opening the tournament against Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Friday, Nov. 14 at 7:30 p.m.