Thomas, Warriors hold off North Dakota in Stunning Fashion, 81-78

Mike Thomas scored a career-high 29 points, and Hawai’i held on in the second half for the 81-78 win over North Dakota on Sunday. (Source: KHON2)

HONOLULU — The Hawai’i Warriors staved off North Dakota, as Cortez Seales had a look at the end for the Fighting Hawks with less than a second to force overtime that fell by the wayside.

The Warriors led by as much as twenty-two in the game, and managed to close it with a 81-78 win. 

Senior captain Michael Thomas poured in a career-high 29 points as well as pulling down a game-high in rebounds with 11. He shot a whopping 75% from the floor as well as converting five-of-eight from the charity stripe.

Hawai’i got some scoring from their guards this time around, as last game guards Leland Green and Drew Buggs combined for eight points on just 2-of-7 shooting. Green scored 18 points on 40% shooting from beyond the arc. Buggs contributed six points of his own, with both guards pitching in with two steals a piece.

The Warriors were up fifteen at the first half buzzer, but were outscored 47-35 by North Dakota in the second frame. The Fighting Hawks came out of the locker room with an edge, as they scored 15 of the first 19 points in the second half.

In the final minute, North Dakota had cut the lead down to a one point game with about thirty-two seconds to go. Gibson Johnson secured a huge rebound for Hawai’i after a Fighting Hawks miss, and was quickly fouled with 1.5 seconds to play.

Geno Crandall, North Dakota’s star guard who scored 41 points in the season opener, was held to 21 points on Sunday.  He shot 50% from the field, and an astounding 80% from downtown.  

Four out of the five starters for the Fighting Hawks got into double digits, compared to the two that the Warriors had.

Both teams struggled from the three-point range, as both shot worse than 31% on the night.  Hawai’i had a 47 to 36 edge in rebounds, as well as a 50.9 to 49.1 edge in terms of team shooting percentage.

Hawai’i will have to improve from beyond the arc if they want to win games down the stretch, as they have shot 28.6% and 20% respectively in their first two games.

The Warriors will advance to play the Troy Trojans in the Outrigger Hotels Rainbow Classic Monday Night.

– T. Zust