Rainbow Warriors looking to put shooting struggles behind them

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Going into last Saturday's matchup against UH-Hilo, shooting was a concern for the Rainbow Warrior basketball team. In particular, from three-point territory and the charity stripe.

But against the Vulcans, the ball -- finally -- began to find its home at the bottom of the net as the Warriors shot an impressive 48.4 percent from the field as a team along with 40 percent from deep.

"We're not gonna be at our best if we don't shoot the ball well - from three and the free throw line," said head coach Eran Ganot after the team's 82-64 win over UH-Hilo. "We didn't shoot as well as we would like at the free throw line, but we're having breakthroughs there."

The team still struggled shooting from the free throw line (66.7 percent) but Ganot was pleased with his team's ability to drive the ball when they needed to and take shots from the perimeter when the opportunity was there.

"I think we're a good shooting team … part of being a good shooter and as a team -- individually and collectively -- is you have to have that inner confidence," Ganot said. "So I like the fact that we were aggressive. I didn't think we took too many bad threes."

The Warriors seemed to have turned a corner after their win against UH-Hilo. Key contributors off the bench, including forward Jack Purchase, didn't hesitate to pull the trigger on catch-and-shoot opportunities.

"We just kept getting good looks and (we knew) that if we just kept playing the right way, eventually our shots would fall," said Drew Buggs.

For Purchase, it's been a frustrating season from a shooting standpoint. Coming off last season, Purchase came into the 2017-2018 campaign as the team's leading three-point shooter after 38.9 percent from long-range. Instead, he's going through the toughest shooting stretch of his career, converting just 19.5 percent of his shots from deep.

"People scout me as a shooter. So when you come into the game, people yell "Shooter! Shooter! Shooter!" you're thinking, 'Man, I got to start making some of these shots because everyone thinks that I'm a shooter.'"

Through the team's first eight games of the season, Purchase has been spotted on the court of the Stan Sheriff Center working on his shot 45 minutes after the final buzzer sounded. While he understands that his shot needs to fall for the Warriors to be successful this season, he understands that the law of averages will soon work in his favor.

And against UH-Hilo, Purchase had a bit of a breakthrough, converting 2-of-4 attempts from deep.

"I just got to take the pressure off myself and get myself more involved with the team," he said. "I'll be alright, it was good to see a couple fall tonight."

Purchase and the rest of the Warriors will hope that their shots continue to fall this upcoming Sunday when Hawaii takes on Utah Valley at the Stan Sheriff Center. Tip-off is set for 5 p.m. HT.

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