Brocke Stepteau scored a game-high 24 points, and Hawaii pulled away for a 90-79 win over Utah in the first round of the eight-team Wooden Legacy tournament on Thursday night in Fullerton, Calif.
Eddie Stansberry added 15 points and Jack Purchase scored 14 for Hawaii (4-1), which advanced to play Seton Hall on Friday in the tourney semifinals. The Rainbow Warriors beat the Utes for the 11th time in 60 all-time meetings.
Riley Battin and Donnie Tillman scored 16 points apiece to lead Utah (2-2).
Hawaii led for most of the game as Utah struggled to find its rhythm on offense. The Rainbow Warriors shot 52.8 percent (28 of 53) for the contest, while the Utes shot 44.1 percent (26 of 59).
Hawaii opened the second half on a 17-4 run to grab a 56-35 lead with 12:05 left. Stansberry drained a 3-pointer from the left corner and a long jump shot from the same area to continue the run.
Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak called timeout to try to regroup his players. The Utes responded with a 27-16 run to shave the deficit to 72-62 with 2:24 remaining.
Hawaii built a 39-31 lead at the half thanks in large part to its smallest player on the roster. The 5-foot-9, 170-pound Stepteau led the Rainbow Warriors with 10 points before intermission, including a four-point play with 1:39 to go.
Forward Timmy Allen kept Utah in contention with a strong first half. He scored seven of the Utes’ first 12 points while making each of his first three shots from the field. The rest of the group shot 1 for 7 in the early going.
Hawaii forward Samuta Avea (6-6, 195 pounds) provided a defensive highlight in the first half as he swatted away a layup attempt by Utah 7-footer Jayce Johnson. But the tables turned less than four minutes later as Johnson extended his arms to block a layup attempt by Avea.
Former Utah standout Kyle Kuzma, now in his second season with the Los Angeles Lakers, watched from the stands. Kuzma averaged 16.4 points and 9.3 rebounds as a junior with the Utes before declaring for the NBA draft in 2017.
—Field Level Media