HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Early in the second half, trailing by one with the Big West Conference player of the year on the bench in foul trouble, the University of Hawaii basketball team knew it needed to get things turned around in a hurry in order to win their opening game of the conference tournament.
It took less than ten minutes for the Rainbow Warriors to turn a one-point deficit into a 28-3 run, silencing any thought of a Cal State Fullerton upset in a 75-44 victory that propels them into the second round and preserves their chances at an NCAA tournament berth next week.
Junior swingman Aaron Valdes scored 13 of his 18 points in the second half, helping put distance between Hawaii and the Titans despite just 20 minutes of playing time by forward Stefan Jankovic, the aforementioned award winner who spent most of the game in foul trouble. Valdes also added 6 rebounds and a game-high 5 assists.
The 'Bows got a double-double effort from forward Mike Thomas, who contributed 12 points and 12 rebounds.
Hawaii's second round game in the conference tournament will pit them against the lowest remaining seed after today's round of games, like the Gauchos of U.C. Santa Barbara.