HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - University of Hawaii junior forward Aaron Valdes leapt his way to the play of the game early in the first half, then sunk the shot of the season late in the second.
Trailing 71-69 with less than a minute to play in Saturday's rematch on the road against U.C.Irvine, Valdes sank a three pointer from the corner to give the Rainbow Warriors their first lead of the second half, at 72-71. It was one they never relinquished en route to a 75-71 win over the Anteaters.
Valdes finished with 13 points on the night, but two of them scored in the first half were among the most exciting Hawaii has scored in 2016.
Inbounding the ball from the baseline while leading 10-9 after just six minutes of play, junior guard Roderick Bobbitt threw a lob to a streaking Valdes that turned into a vicious one-handed alley-oop over 6'10" Irvine forward Jonathan Galloway. Video of the play quickly went viral on Twitter, and the dunk was shown several times Saturday night during the nightly "Top Ten" segment on ESPN's SportsCenter.
Hawaii junior forward Stefan Jankovic scored a game-high 25 points for the 'Bows while playing against the Anteater's giant big men, including the 7'6" Mamadou Ndiaye.
The win gives Hawaii a full two-game lead for first place in the Big West conference. Hawaii has just four conference games remaining, though only the final one, against Long Beach State, involves an opponent with a winning record.