‘Bows send off seniors with 74-57 win over CSU Bakersfield to cap regular season


HONOLULU — A special night for a special group of seniors.

The Hawai’i men’s basketball team closed out the regular season and honored six graduating players with a 74-57 win over Cal State Bakersfield Saturday night at SimpliFi Arena at the Stan Sheriff Center.

Graduate transfer Justin McKoy led all scorers with 23 points on 6-for-9 shooting and senior Noel Coleman knocked down four 3-pointers and finished with 18 points to power the Rainbow Warriors (19-13 overall, 11-9 Big West) to their ninth win in the last 12 games.

“This was definitely very special,” said McKoy, who played for North Carolina and Virginia previously. “I don’t know if there’s any recency bias but this was definitely the best feeling for me, just the crowd and just this senior night was super awesome. I don’t think anybody does it like Hawai’i.”

Senior guard Jovon McClanahan, who missed four games with a right shoulder injury, was also among those that were honored. McClanahan, Coleman and senior forward Bernardo da Silva all have spent at least four years with the program. Graduate student Matthue Cotton and eighth-year player Juan Munoz rounded out the senior class.

“Our senior class is a microcosm of our program,” said Hawai’i coach Eran Ganot. “They’ve come together for one common goal and they’re friends for life.

“Each of those guys at different times have been very special. They stayed here because of the program and I say it’s all encompassing; our program, our athletic department, the university, the state. They have felt like home.”

McClanahan echoed those sentiments.

“It just felt like home, thats why I stayed. It was too much of a home for me. I don’t think I’d ever leave. I think that’s the biggest portion of it. I really appreciate everyone I met so far on the journey and it’s not over yet.”

After starting conference play at 2-6, the Rainbow Warriors flipped the script on their season to finish with the No. 3 seed in next week’s Big West tournament. They will await the winner between No. 6 UC Santa Barbara and No. 7 CSUN on Thursday in Henderson, Las Vegas.

“It’s about getting hot at the right time and I think we’ve shown that we’ve gotten hot at the right time,” said McKoy.

“I think some of those losses helped motivate us to play super hard and bounce back and show that just because we’re playing well doesn’t mean someone can’t come in and beat us and so I think we have exactly what we need to go into the tournament and make some noise.”