HONOLULU — Strong defense and a 21-point effort from Scotty Pippen Jr. helped lift Vanderbilt to a 68-54 win over Hawai’i in the opening round of the Diamond Head Classic at the Stan Sheriff Center on Wednesday.
Vanderbilt (7-4) forced 21 turnovers including 10 steals to hold off a second-half run by the Rainbow Warriors (4-4).
The Dores return to action at 9 p.m. CT Thursday to take on BYU (11-2) in the semifinals of the Diamond Head Classic on ESPN2.
Vanderbilt started hot by scoring the first six points of the game. Later in the half, the Dores used a 14-0 run sparked by a pair of Trey Thomas 3-pointers to give Vandy a 19-point edge at 28-9. Hawai’i trimmed the Vandy lead down to 11 on three occasions before the break.
Led by 13 points from Pippen and eight forced Hawai’i turnovers, the Commodores took a 35-24 lead into halftime.
The Rainbow Warriors started the half on a 7-0 run to make it 35-31. Vandy regrouped and battled back, utilizing a 7-0 run of its own later to stretch its advantage back to double figures at 59-47 with 5:28 to play.
The Commodores went on to take a 14-point lead on a pair of Pippen free throws in the last two minutes and held on for the 11-point victory.
Hawai’i was led by 31 points from Noel Coleman.