Hawai’i uses strong 2nd half effort to pull away from Sharks, sinks HPU, 78-53

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED DEC 11, 2023

HONOLULU — The Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors (7-1) saw a spunky effort from Hawai’i Pacific University (5-2) sputter out in the 2nd half, pulling away from the Sharks en route to the ‘Bows seventh victory of the season, 78-53. 

The two teams, both of whom play their home games in Mānoa as HPU competes just up the hill from SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center inside the “Shark Tank” on the former campus of St. Francis, got off to a back-and-forth start, knotted at 20 points each with just over eight and a half minutes left in the 1st half. That’s when UH’s super-sub-Juan Munoz set the court ablaze with another magnificent shooting display to close the half, hitting all six of his attempts from the floor (including three from long-distance) to lead all scorers with 15 points at the break. HPU’s Dominique “Diggy” Winbush paced the Sharks through a competitive opening 20 minutes of play, scoring over a third of his team’s points as HPU entered the locker room trailing 40-28. 

The 2nd half of action was when Hawai’i was able to flex their might and muscle, dominating the game in transition and getting nearly anything the ‘Bows desired offensively. UH senior Noel Coleman comfortably ticked over the 1,000-career point threshold for his college career in the final half of action as the lead for the Rainbow Warriors grew to as many as 27 points. 

It was another relatively quiet night for HPU leading scorer Melo Sanchez, finishing with 10 points on 4-of-12 shooting from the field as UH limited the airspace of the dynamic sophomore guard. HPU returns to action for the “Hoops in Hawai’i Classic” from December 17-19, first game on Sunday, December 17 at 5:45 p.m. at the “Shark Tank”. 

Hawai’i saw 10 different players score, including three in double figures, as the Rainbow Warriors picked up their second win in as many weeks in December. UH will be back in action on Sunday, December 17 when the ‘Bows host the 7-1 Nevada Wolfpack for one last tune-up ahead of the 2023 Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic.