Huge home stand sweep revives Hawai’i men’s basketball’s season

Huge home stand sweep revives Hawai’i men’s basketball’s season

Huge home stand sweep revives Hawai’i men’s basketball’s season

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED FEB 10, 2024

HONOLULU — How about that? 

The University of Hawai’i men’s basketball team downed UC Davis (15-9, 10-3 Big West) on Saturday night, 87-70, to pick up the team’s fourth win in the last five games behind double-doubles from Bernardo de Silva and Justin McKoy and another Noel Coleman masterpiece. 

“Really proud of this team for tonight and this week, and really, leading up to this week,” Hawai’i head coach Eran Ganot expressed postgame. “That was a heckuva team we just played, and we’ve talked about trying to put it together in all three phases… in the context of Thursday, in the context of today, [I] couldn’t be prouder.” 

Hawai’i (14-11, 6-7 Big West) spent the first half of the game unconscious from the field, making 15 out of 21 attempts from the floor including an unfathomable 9-of-11 from distance in the opening half as the ‘Bows worked the lead to double-digits at the break, 45-35. Everyone got in on the fun for UH as the bench poured in 12 points over the opening 20 minutes as freshmen Tom Beattie and Akira Jacobs went a combined 3-of-3 from long range in the period and reserve guard Kody Williams handed out three dimes. 

“We’ve said we’re a good shooting team [so] it was nice to see some breakthroughs,” Ganot said of his team’s scorching shooting performance. “This doesn’t just happen tonight. They’ve been shooting well in practice, shot it well the other night…we’ve still got a long road but hopefully we can build off of this.” 

While the ‘Bows offense cooled off a bit after halftime, the defense turned up the heat as Hawai’i held UC Davis to 8-of-31 shooting from the floor after halftime and a pitiful 2-of-13 from long range on a rare cold night for star backcourt duo Elijah Pepper and Ty Johnson. The Aggies’ backcourt was held to a combined 5-of-19 from the floor in the second half as the Rainbow Warriors dominated the glass for the second straight game. 

“You aren’t going to [completely] hold those guys down, they’re too good. Making them work for everything, making them work on the defensive end and [have the right matchups] … Give our guys credit for really working their tails off,” Ganot said of his team’s second half defensive chops.  

UC Davis was led by Pepper’s 27 points on 25 shots as the guard played nearly 36 minutes of the 40-minute contest. Backcourt duo Ty Johnson ended the night with 15 points and six rebounds in the loss. 

Hawai’i got double-digit performances from four different players as Justin McKoy and Bernardo de Silva recorded double-doubles with 17 points, 11 rebounds and 19 points and 12 rebounds respectively. Noel Coleman, who has been under the weather as of late, poured in another 18 points on an efficient 7-of-12 shooting before fouling out late while freshman Tom Beattie added 11 points off the pine for the ‘Bows. 

“Having been around [Noel] for a long time, it’s been fun to watch him grow and develop and he’s had great moments,” Ganot said of his starting shooting guard. “I said the other day [against UC San Diego] I thought it was his best game in a Rainbow Warrior uniform because you put it all in context… sometimes it takes so much out of you on the offensive end but he’s able to do it offensively, defensively against the best teams and the best schools. [That context]’s why I think you could argue it was his best week in this uniform.” 

After back-to-back wins against the Big West’s 2nd-place program, Hawai’i has suddenly catapulted itself back into the Big West’s top-4 conversation (also thanks in part to UC San Diego’s Division I reclassification period running through this season) as UH sits a game behind CSUN for the fourth seed in the Big West Conference tournament. The ‘Bows now hit the road for a two-game trip against a Cal Poly team that has begun to solve some things as of late and UC Santa Barbara, the program currently tied with Hawai’i on the conference ladder.  

Sweet-shooting Coleman helps Hawai’i shake off slow first half for win over Cal Poly

Sweet-shooting Coleman helps Hawai’i shake off slow first half for win over Cal Poly

Sweet-shooting Coleman helps Hawai’i shake off slow first half for win over Cal Poly

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED JAN 27, 2024

HONOLULU — Man, it feels good to get one. 

The lineup tinkering continued for the Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors Saturday night as freshman guard Tom Beattie received his first start of the 2023-24 season, replacing captain JoVon McClanahan in the opening five to round out the new-look three-guard lineup that has shown some success in recent stints for Hawai’i as UH took down visiting Cal Poly, 83-73. Senior guard Noel Coleman led the way for the ‘Bows with 23 points, providing important basket after basket throughout the second half. 

The Rainbow Warriors (11-10, 3-6 Big West) started off slowly on offense against Cal Poly (4-17, 0-9 Big West) as the new lineup attempted to mesh, scoring just two points on a Justin McKoy spinning layup in the game’s first four minutes. The defense of UH, though, gave up just three points of their own as the game hit the first media timeout. 

Following the break in the action, Hawai’i snapped off a speedy 6-0 run with defense leading to offense to jump up ahead, 8-3. The Mustangs ran back ahead with six straight points of their own as Kobe Sanders hammed home a tomahawk jam, but a left-corner Juan Munoz three-pointer swished on through to give the Rainbow Warriors back the lead with 11:57 left in the opening half of play, 12-9. 

The ‘Bows lead grew to eight after an Akira Jacobs’ right-corner three dropped through to make it 19-11 with 8:35 left in the half, forcing a Cal Poly timeout. The Mustangs responded with their most consistent offense of the first half, closing out the period trading baskets with host Hawai’i before a defensive breakdown left open Cal Poly’s Aiden Prukop for a left-wing three cut it to a three-point UH lead to end the opening 20 minutes, 26-23. 

Hawai’i looked far more focused to open the second half, ripping off a 9-0 run behind the sweet-shooting touch of Noel Coleman before Cal Poly finally got on the board, making it 35-25 in favor of the ‘Bows just under five minutes after the halftime break. 

After trading baskets for the next few possessions, the Mustangs would cut it to a seven-point ‘Bows lead before Beattie found a cutting Jacobs on the baseline and McKoy got a transition layup to drop plus the foul to help UH push the lead up to 14 with less than six minutes to play. McClanahan gave Hawai’i its biggest lead of the game a minute and a half later as he drove all the way to the cup to make it 62-46 and drilled a pair of free throws to make it an 18-point advantage just a few seconds later. It looked like the ‘Bows would prance their way to a blowout win — but Cal Poly wouldn’t let go that easily. 

The Mustangs extended the game’s final four minutes out as long as possible, playing the foul game while hitting tough shots from inside and outside the arc to bring the game as close as seven with 33 seconds left before the ‘Bows closed out the visitors, 83-73. 

Cal Poly was led by senior Kobe Sanders’ double-double, posting a game-best 32 points and 10 rebounds in the loss for the Mustangs. Fellow guard Aiden Prukop poured in 23 points on 4-of-7 shooting from three-point range as Cal Poly remains winless in Big West play. 

UH was led by Noel Coleman’s 23 points, the fourth time this season that the senior has eclipsed 20 or more points for the Rainbow Warriors. McClanahan chipped in 12 points in his new-ish reserve role, going a perfect 6-of-6 from the charity stripe in a game that saw 69 total free throws taken. 

As the team acclimates to life without Mor Seck, the ‘Bows did well to win the points in the paint battle, 32-24, despite losing the rebounding competition and dominated when Cal Poly turned the ball over by scoring 25 points off of 14 Mustang giveaways. On what head coach Eran Ganot has called the worst offensive-rebounding team in recent UH program memory, it’ll continue to be important for the Rainbow Warriors to win on the margins as they look to get back into the thick of the Big West standings. 

Hawai’i hits the road for a massive trip to the continent with games against Cal State Fullerton, who beat the ‘Bows in Honolulu to open the conference schedule, and UC Irvine next Thursday and Saturday. 

Hawai’i’s Big West free-fall continues after loss to Mitchell, UC Santa Barbara

Hawai’i’s Big West free-fall continues after loss to Mitchell, UC Santa Barbara

UCSB guard Ajay Mitchell misses a free throw during the Gauchos’ 78-61 win over Hawai’i.

Hawai’i’s Big West free-fall continues after loss to Mitchell, UC Santa Barbara

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED JAN 25, 2024

HONOLULU — Mor injury, more problems. 

After announcing earlier in the day that 7-foot-1 sophomore center Mor Seck would miss the remainder of the 2023-24 season after suffering an ACL injury to his left knee in practice Tuesday, the Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors (10-10, 2-6 Big West) fell once again Thursday night at home as defending-conference champion UC Santa Barbara (12-7, 5-4 Big West) won for the fourth straight time against UH, 78-61, inside SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center. 

Hawai’i opened the evening strong with another new starting lineup, this time the three-guard lineup that found success in the second half of the UC San Diego loss last Saturday, grabbing a five-point advantage to the delight of fans. 

It was the last smile for a while. 

Hawai’i’s offense, one that has been inconsistent for much of the year, went lifeless for the next nine-plus minutes of action as the Gauchos rattled off an incredible 26-0 run to take full control, 28-7, with 7:40 left in the first half. JoVon McClanahan would snap the scoreless streak for Hawai’i with a late-shot clock pull-up on the baseline as the ‘Bows rattled off ten points over the next three minutes to keep the game within 20 with four minutes remaining before half, 36-17. 

The Rainbow Warriors closed the half strong offensively, making seven of their final eight attempts but continuing to see struggles stacking defensive stops as Hawai’i entered the locker room trailing, 43-27. 

Defending Big West Player of the Year Ajay Mitchell showed off his NBA-pedigree all evening, continuing the performance into the beginning of the second half with the first six points out of the locker rooms before fellow Belgian Noel Coleman knocked home a triple to get Hawai’i started once again. 

The team stabilized from there, trading baskets with USCB to keep the margin around 18-20 as time wound down in the ‘Bows sixth loss in eight tries in Big West play, eventually falling 78-61. 

UCSB’s Mitchell dropped home 25 points and added six assists as he imposed his will on the Hawai’i defense all night. Fellow backcourt mainstay Josh Pierre-Louis added a double-double, posting 10 rebounds to go along with his 14 points while Yohan Traore dominated inside en route to 20 points on 8-for-12 shooting. The Gauchos dominated inside all game long, outscoring UH in the painted area, 54-30, while winning the rebounding battle, 33-21, to help spotlight the loss of Seck for Hawai’i.

UH was led by Noel Coleman’s 19 points as one of three starters to finish in double figures, along with forward Bernardo de Silva’s 13 points and Juan Munoz’s dozen. The other seven Rainbow Warriors that saw time combined for 17 total points on 6-of-24 shooting as the offense struggled through multiple extended droughts throughout the night. 

Hawai’i will host Cal Poly on Saturday, January 27 inside SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center with tip-off scheduled for 7:00 p.m. HT as they face an increasingly-steeper hill to climb out of the cellar.  

“Together” Hawai’i snaps 4-game home losing streak with tough win over UC Riverside

“Together” Hawai’i snaps 4-game home losing streak with tough win over UC Riverside

“Together” Hawai’i snaps 4-game home losing streak with tough win over UC Riverside

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED JAN 13, 2024

HONOLULU – Finally. 

After dropping their last four home contests and entering Saturday night on a bit of a slide, the University of Hawai’i men’s basketball team (10-7, 2-3 Big West) used a gutsy second half defensive effort and JoVon McClanahan’s 14 points to down UC Riverside (7-11, 2-3 Big West) inside SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center for just the ‘Bows second win in the last seven meetings between the programs. 

Hawai’i would get off to a fast start behind six early points from McClanahan, taking an 8-2 lead not even three minutes into action. UH’s advantage trickled on for the game’s first eight minutes until UCR’s Ben Griscti drilled a three-pointer to give the Highlanders their first lead of the night, 13-12, with 12:05 left in the first half. 

UH took the lead right back on the next possession as Justin McKoy got a hook shot to go plus a foul to send the game to the second media timeout of the first 20 minutes. Following the stop in the action, Juan Munoz would get in on the fun for Hawai’i with his first three-point field goal of the evening making it 18-15 in favor of the ‘Bows. 

UC Riverside would fight back in front with four consecutive points, but UH responded with a 7-0 run of their own behind a Munoz layup, Mor Seck thundering dunk and true freshman Akira Jacobs’ first triple of the night to jump ahead with 7:11 left in the half, 25-19. The Rainbow Warriors’ lead would grow as large as eight before a nightmare end to the half led to a Highlanders’ run to close the gap to one as the teams entered the locker rooms for halftime. 

After the break, the teams would continue the end-of-half trend of trading metaphorical blows with each other, trading the lead five times before the under-12-minutes media timeout when the Highlanders would hold a slim 48-44 lead. 

Eran Ganot’s squad turned up the heat on the defensive end from there. 

Following the timeout, Hawai’i started to chip away at the lead from the charity stripe with three makes in four attempts between Noel Coleman and Tom Beattie and six defensive stops in seven possessions. The ‘Bows would re-take the lead with 5:39 left in regulation behind back-to-back buckets from Coleman and Bernardo de Silva, 51-50, sending the 3,519 fans inside the Stan Sheriff Center into a frenzy.

That’s when the straightjackets came out. 

Hawai’i held UC Riverside without a field goal make from the 9:08 mark of the second half until there were 43 seconds remaining as McClanahan was busy icing the game from the free throw line and McKoy put the cherry on top with two makes of his own at the charity stripe to help snap a four-game home skid, 63-56. 

UC Riverside was led by Barrington Hargress and Nate Pickens, who had 18 and 10 points apiece in the loss. UH held usual standout scorer Isaiah Moses down for the most part as the guard finished the night 1-for-8 from the field and a total of four points.  

Hawai’i was led by McClanahan’s 14 points, including a perfect 6-of-6 from the free throw line as he battled being poked in the eye late to close out the win for the ‘Bows. Noel Coleman finished with 10 points in the victory for UH, snagging eight rebounds along the way to lead the team. 

The Rainbow Warriors will now hit the road once again, taking on rival Long Beach State on Thursday, January 18 in another increasingly important road trip in an ever-so-closing-tighter Big West standings. 

Hawai’i men’s basketball falls to Cal State Fullerton in overtime heartbreaker to open Big West play

Hawai’i men’s basketball falls to Cal State Fullerton in overtime heartbreaker to open Big West play

Hawaii men’s basketball falls to Cal State Fullerton in overtime heartbreaker to open Big West play

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED DEC 30, 2023

HONOLULU — The stumble from the Diamond Head peak to base continues. 

After finishing in fourth place in their title defense of the annual Diamond Head Classic to close out the non-conference schedule, the Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors men’s basketball team saw its losing streak extend to three games after opening Big West conference play with a 63-61 overtime loss to Cal State Fullerton inside SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center Saturday night. 

Hawai’i would get the New Years’ Eve-eve party started with the game’s first points as Ryan Rapp banked home a step-through layup in his first career start for the Rainbow Warriors. The junior guard out of Melbourne, Australia entered the lineup for graduate transfer Matt Cotton — who played just five minutes and 42 seconds before putting his warmup back on for the rest of the night. Cotton did not play in the second half or overtime for undisclosed reasons. 

Fullerton guard DJ Brewton answered the Hawai’i bucket with long pull-up jumper to knot it at two before sinking a pair of free throws to give CSUF the team’s first lead of the game at 4-2. Rainbow Warriors’ guard Noel Coleman got his first points of the night after hammering home a two-handed jam off of a baseline dunk to tie it at four and gave the ‘Bows the lead once again after drilling a right-corner three-pointer to make it 9-6. The back-and-forth beginning reached the under-16 media timeout tied at nine after Grayson Carper responded to Coleman’s three with a triple of his own. 

The teams held each other without another point until Hawai’i’s Mor Seck was whistled for a goaltend with 11:28 left in the opening half, giving Fullerton an 11-9 advantage. Justin McKoy tied the game at 11 on the next possession and a 1-of-2 trip to the free throw line for Seck pushed UH back in front, 12-11. 

Back-to-back buckets for CSUF pushed the Titans ahead by three before Carper drilled his second three of the half to give the visitors a six-point lead, 18-12. The ‘Bows would cut into the lead with a Coleman reverse layup went through to push the senior over 1,000 points in his University of Hawai’i career (he reached 1K for his entire college career earlier this season against Hawaii Pacific), but that was the tightest the margin would get for the rest of the half as foul shooting woes continued to plague UH. 

Carper made his third three in as many attempts with 44 ticks left on the first-half clock off of a Hawai’i turnover to make it 27-18 before a Seck free throw and UH freshman Tom Beattie came up with a steal and score just before half to help the ‘Bows go into halftime down just six. 

Hawai’i shot just 35% from the field through the first 20 minutes, making one of 10 attempts from long range while turning the ball over seven times to build the first half hole. Coleman led UH with seven points as only him and McKoy managed to make more than one field goal for the home team to start action. 

Coming out of the break, the ‘Bows flew out with a furry to tie the game at 29 as McKoy drilled two three-pointers to quickly close the gap and Rapp got his second layup of the night to drop to excite the home crowd with a fresh setting across the rest of the half. The two rival programs traded blows, drawn charges and the lead as the second half rolled on, seeing Hawai’i jump back ahead in loud fashion as Juan Munoz got in on the fun with his first three-ball of the night — much to the delight of the home fans — to give the ‘Bows the 41-39 advantage with 10:37 remaining. 

Fullerton would not trail long, tying the game on the next possession and re-taking a two-point lead with a Donovan Oday steal and slam as the game ticked under 10 minutes to play. Hawai’i cut it to 43-42 after Seck split a pair of foul shots before CSUF’s Tory San Antonio pushed the lead back to three with a nice finish inside. 

UH’s Tom Beattie brought the score even again at 45 with a triple from the top of the key, but Brewton took the lead right back for the Titans and Justin McKoy would be whistled for a questionable offensive foul, his fourth personal of the contest, with 8:08 left to play that sent the UNC transfer to the bench and sent Ganot into a frenzy with the officials ahead of the under-eight media timeout. 

Hawai’i jumped back in front by one following the stoppage of play after forward Bernardo de Silva split a couple free throws and increased its lead to two after McClanahan got fouled late in the shot clock and went 1-for-2 from the line himself with 4:46 remaining, making it 49-47 in favor of the ‘Bows. 

Just as it looked like Ganot’s squad would force another shot clock violation with just over three minutes to play, Fullerton’s San Antonio rattled home a jumper to beat the shot clock horn and tying the game at 49-all and forcing a UH timeout. After the timeout, the ‘Bows would go to de Silva on back-to-back possessions down low and take a two-point lead with under 120 seconds left in regulation. 

It was CSUF’s Brewton showing off the clutch scoring gene with a running floater off glass over McClanahan with 1:38 left to make it 53-53, but again de Silva answered with a hoop on the other end, this time with an offensive rebound and putback going down while being fouled to give UH a three-point advantage. 

Brewton split a pair of free throws to cut it down to a two-point deficit before the Titans tied it at 56 apiece with under a minute to play and produced a stop on the other end to get a chance to win it at the buzzer but the try went awry. 

Hawai’i nearly had holiday heroics from McClanahan again, who tossed a three-quarter-court heave just milliseconds after the buzzer sounded that ended up going in anyway — instead going to overtime for the third time in the last four meetings against Cal State Fullerton. 

The ‘Bows took the extra period’s first lead behind a pair of McKoy free throws before three makes in four tries from the charity stripe for CSUF’s Oday put the Titans ahead with 3:57 left in overtime. The Rainbow Warriors jumped in front again after a nice give-and-go between Beattie and de Silva finished in a layup for the guard from New Zealand and a 60-59 advantage for the home squad. 

UH got the defensive stop on the ensuing possession but McClanahan was unable to get the following three-point try to fall with 1:42 left to play, keeping it a one-point game as the Titans called timeout. 

Much like the final possessions of regulation, CSUF went back to Brewton’s matchup against the smaller McClanahan and allowed the guard to use his size to re-take the lead with 77 seconds to play, 61-60. This time, de Silva missed the answer on the other end, seeing his right-handed hook roll off the rim and Cal State Fullerton’s John Mikey Square muscle home an insurance basket on the other end for the Titans with 26.2 seconds left in overtime to make it 63-60. 

Hawai’i had a chance to tie after McClanahan was fouled on a three-point attempt with 17 seconds to play, but the first two shots went off the mark before sinking the final one to make it a two-point game. CSUF’s Brewton left the door open for UH by missing two consecutive free throws, but a mishandled post feed and rainbow three-point try by Justin McKoy resulted in a miss and the fifth consecutive loss to Cal State Fullerton for the program. 

Brewton led Fullerton with 17 points on 7-of-15 shooting from the floor as the Titans bounced back from an opening loss to Big West play earlier in the week. CSU Fullerton finished the game forcing 17 turnovers by Hawai’i and held the ‘Bows to a 5-of-23 shooting performance from range in the loss. 

Bernardo de Silva paced the ‘Bows, posting another double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds as the six-foot-nine forward was featured on possessions late for UH. McKoy, who battled foul trouble for a large portion of the evening, followed closely behind with 12 points and eight boards in the loss. 

Hawai’i will look to snap its three-game losing streak when they return to action on the road to begin the new year, taking on CSU Bakersfield on January 4 for the team’s “first” road contest of the season. The ‘Bows participated in the Acrisure Invitational on the mainland for two games at a neutral site before playing Utah at the Delta Center for another “neutral” site contest.