Gibson Johnson hit a career-high 11 free throws and tied his career-best with 19 points, freshman Samuta Avea had 11 of his 13 points the second half and Hawaii held off Division II Adams State for an 87-77 win on Monday night.
Brandon Thomas and Leland Green each had 13 points as well, and Brocke Stepteau scored 12 in his first start of the season for Hawaii (4-1). Avea came in with six career points and Thomas, a sophomore transfer from Riverside City College, came in with 10.
Shane Johnson’s 3-pointer pulled Adams State within three points, but Stepteau scored the next four to make it 74-67 with four minutes left and made 4 of 4 from the free-throw line in the final 86 seconds to hold off the Grizzlies.
Mike Thomas scored 27 of his 29 points in the first half and made 13 of 16 from the field for Adams State.
There were 10 lead changes before Brandon Thomas hit a 3-pointer that made it 21-18 with just fewer than nine minutes left in the first half and Hawaii never again trailed. Two free throws by Adams State’s Szymon Walczak tied it, for the sixth time, at 27-all, but the Rainbow Warriors closed the half on a 13-5 run to go into the break leading 40-32. Brandon Thomas scored the final five first-half points, hitting a 3 and then a twisting, fall-away putback .
The Grizzlies made their first five second-half shots and trimmed their deficit to 44-43, but Avea answered with a dunk and two layups during as Hawaii scored 10 of the next 12 points to open a nine-point lead with 13 minutes to go. Avea’s jumper capped another 10-2 run that gave the Rainbow Warriors their biggest lead, 70-56, with fewer than seven minutes remaining.