‘Bows outlast Gauchos without Valdes

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HONOLULU – Isaac Fleming poured in a career-high 22 points, Stefan Jankovic added 19 points and nine rebounds and the University of Hawai’i Rainbow Warrior basketball team improved to 2-0 in the Big West Conference with a 65-57 win on Saturday night at the Stan Sheriff Center.

The two wins to start conference play is a first since 2012-13, UH’s first season in the Big West. The ‘Bows won on a night where Aaron Valdes went down early with an injury and was unable to return.

Michael Bryson had 16 points and a game-high 10 rebounds for the Gauchos who fall to 6-8 in their first league game.

The game opened with a frenetic pace with neither team able to find the basket. Jankovic did get it going early though, hitting his first three shots from the floor for UH’s first three buckets. Later, Fleming would connect on an and-one layup and score another in the paint to help UH to a 15-8 lead.

The ‘Bows would pull ahead 19-15 on a Roderick Bobbitt layup but jumpers by Bryson and Maxwell Kupchak evened up the game. UH again built a lead, this time its largest of the half at 25-19, but a three-minute UH scoring drought and a 9-2 Gaucho run left the ‘Bows trailing 28-27 at the break.

The ‘Bows came out firing to start the second half. Fleming drained corner three-pointers on consecutive possessions and Quincy Smith added another to spearhead an 11-2 run. UH extended the lead to eight points before a Gabe Vincent three helped UCSB rally and eventually tie the game at 48-48.

UH took a 53-50 lead on another Fleming three-pointer and though UCSB would make it a one-point game three times down the stretch, the ‘Bows never relinquished the lead. Fleming and Bobbitt both hit a pair of free throws to seal the win.

The ‘Bows now head out on the road for just the second time this season and first in Big West play. First up will be at UC Riverside on Thursday, Jan. 14 at 7:00 p.m. PT (5:00 p.m. HT).

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