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StarBulletin.com

Rainbows still rule Hawaii


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POSTED: Friday, November 06, 2009

The bragging rights remain in Manoa.

Hawaii shot 60 percent from the field and never trailed in snuffing out the “;Best Team on the Island”; debate in an 83-69 exhibition win against the nation's top-ranked Division II team, Brigham Young-Hawaii, last night at the Stan Sheriff Center.

Though the game couldn't live up to its summer billing because of key missing parts on both sides, the victory meant a lot to the Rainbow Warriors with their Nov. 13 season opener against Southern Utah looming.

Even though it didn't count in the record books, players splayed out for loose balls, set hard picks and yelled after big baskets. Two technical fouls were called, but everyone shook hands afterward.

“;We just wanted to let everyone know that we're the best team in Hawaii, hands down,”; said UH center Paul Campbell, who came off the bench to score a game-high 19 points on 8-for-10 shooting, including four second-half dunks. He made a surprise appearance after not practicing all week with a sore knee. “;Coach (Bob) Nash has been hyping up this game to us like it's any other regular-season game. We know they're a solid team, No. 1 in Division II. We wanted to let everyone know we're the best team out here.”;

From a talent standpoint, the game couldn't live up to its potential. Last year's Division II national player of the year, Lucas Alves, was out with a knee injury for the Seasiders. But UH's star forward Roderick Flemings was also among the sidelined with a groin injury, in addition to new guard Dwain Williams and forward Brandon Adams.

Petras Balocka helped make up for the void with 15 points on 7-for-8 shooting. Adhar Mayen added 13 and Leroy Lutu Jr. 10. Hiram Thompson had nine assists. UH capitalized on a size advantage with Alves sidelined to outrebound the Seasiders 46-24, and held their foes to 36.8 percent shooting.

Point guard Jeremy Lay scored 13 and dished four assists in his UH debut before fouling out to a nice hand with 3 minutes, 45 seconds. Center Douglas Kurtz and walk-on guard Rykin Enos also had brief first stints on the court.

While UH ran a smooth up-and-down offense for much of the game, it also had a whopping 29 turnovers as the Seasiders pocketed 15 steals.

“;I'm excited for their season,”; said BYUH point guard JR Buensuceso, who led his team with 17 points. “;They made some good additions to their team. Jeremy Lay is very good, Hiram controlled his team. Their bigs played well. Adhar showed up, Petras played under control and Campbell was very good.”;

The Rainbows came out with a purpose, unlike a sputtering effort in a nail-biter over Hawaii-Hilo last week. They shot 58.6 percent in the first half in leading by as many as 19 points.

But the Seasiders wouldn't fold. A vocal contingent of BYUH fans saw their 'Siders go on a 27-10 run spanning the halves, capped with a deep Rory Patterson 3-pointer to pull BYUH within 48-46 with 12:05 left.

UH countered with a 10-2 run after BYUH's AJ Reilly was T'd up, and the hosts didn't allow the lead to shrink smaller than seven the rest of the way.

“;We just calmed ourselves down,”; Lay said. “;We're a confident team. It's hard to drive when your engine isn't running right. We just had to calm ourselves down, we knew we were the better team.”;

“;They gave us everything we could handle, and that's what we wanted out of an exhibition game, be tested, have some emotion going into the game,”; Nash said. “;This is a big game for us. I don't like to look at it as division, but they're a very good opponent and if we don't establish how we want to play early on, play good solid defense, that team could have beaten us tonight.”;

UH's Bill Amis went out 11 minutes into the first half with a right foot injury and didn't return. He came out after halftime on crutches, his foot in a boot.

“;Bill's a warrior, he'll find his way back onto the floor,”; Nash said. “;But we gotta take it slow with foot injuries.”;