The Rainbow Warriors defeated Portland, 82-64, in tonight’s opening round of the 54th Rainbow Classic.
The ‘Bows assisted on 22 of their 31 field goals, and turned the ball over only nine times — two fewer than their per-game goal. But the key was the defensive play to start the second half.
The Pilots did not score on their first five possessions after the intermission, going 3 minutes, 39 seconds before their first second-half basket. After that, their next bucket came with 9:23 to play.
The Pilots shot only four of 15 in the second half. While they picked up numerous free-throw opportunities on aggressive drives, that was not enough to overcome the ‘Bows’ balanced offense.
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The Rainbow Warriors took a 36-34 lead on Zigmars Raimo’s layup as time expired in the first half.
Brocke Stepteau drove the lane then dished to Raimo, who produced a team-high 11 points in the opening 20 minutes.
Samuta Avea contributed eight first-half points, including a dynamic sequence. Avea, who is 6-6, blocked 6-9 Tahirou Diabate’s shot. Avea then raced the other way, took a feed from Stepteau and soared for a dunk.
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The UH basketball team begins its 99th season with tonight’s game against Portland in the opening round of the 54th Rainbow Classic.
It was 25 years ago when the teams opened the 1993-94 season in the Great Alaska Shootout. The ‘Bows, who were favored, learned that Portland’s best player would not be available because of an injury. The Pilots ended up winning, 100-47. The ‘Bows went 0-3 in the Shootout but rebounded to win the 1994 WAC Tournament and a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
This season’s ‘Bows might open with a rotation of up to 11 players. Sheriff Drammeh, who did not play in last week’s exhibition against HPU, participated in pre-game warmups and is likely to play.