Noel Coleman’s attempt to posterize an Eastern Washington defender inside SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center Sunday might be what people talk about this week, but the University of Hawai‘i guard’s two-way performance helped the Rainbow Warriors come away with a 71-51 win over the Eagles.
Noel Coleman just tried to end Eastern Washington University. pic.twitter.com/E2pIEEyiAZ— Rush the Other 26 (@other26hoops) November 14, 2022
Coleman scored 15 points in UH’s victory, but the 6-foot-2 guard was able to limit Eastern Washington’s Steele Venters — who averaged 16.7 points per game for the Eagles last season — to four points on 2-of-6 shooting as the primary defender on the 6-foot-7 forward Sunday.
“Noel did a special job and I think he was the head of the snake in terms of what we wanted to do,” UH forward Kamaka Hepa said. “One of the things we emphasized going into this game was their size against us, and Noel stepped up to the challenge and he did what he had to do for us to get the win.”
Hepa scored a game-high 17 points and recorded nine rebounds for Hawai‘i (2-0), who will play Yale today in what will be the de facto championship game of the Outrigger Rainbow Classic. The Bulldogs are also 2-0 in the round robin tournament this past weekend, beating Eastern Washington on Friday and Mississippi Valley State earlier on Sunday.
“They’re shooting at a high level and they have guys who can make plays at every position,” UH coach Eran Ganot said about Yale. “They’ve always rebounded very well, they’re physical… we’ll know we'll have our work cut out for ourselves and that’s what we want.”
Hawai‘i had a quick start behind Hepa’s eight points on a perfect 3-of-3 shooting line to take a 12-2 lead at the first media timeout. Although Hepa had a hot start, the Rainbow Warriors experienced scoring droughts of nearly four and five minutes each that allowed Eastern Washington to remain in contention.
Early foul trouble for both Bernardo da Silva and Harry Rouhliadeff also appeared to be a factor for the Rainbow Warriors, as UH was +16 in the first half when da Silva was on the court and -6 when he was not. UH was also outrebounded by Eastern Washington 22-13, including seven offensive rebounds by the Eagles in the first half.
“That’s not great when both bigs are in foul trouble but we manipulated some things,” Ganot said, noting that UH implemented Beon Riley and Zoar Nedd at power forward at that point. “I’m really proud of the way we were able to manipulate some things and continue to play, but I think it hurt us on the other end when (Eastern Washington) was mixing up so much.”
Despite a strong first half rebounding the ball, Eastern Washington committed 11 turnovers which UH was able to convert into 13 points. Much of the Rainbow Warriors’ scoring was from Hepa and Coleman, who combined for 23 of Hawai‘i’s 33 points at halftime.
Cedric Coward and Angelo Allegri each had 10 points to lead Eastern Washington (0-3) in scoring.
Yale 80, Mississippi Valley State 51
In the game that took place prior to Eastern Washington-Hawai‘i, Yale defeated Mississippi Valley State 80-51. Yale did not trail at any point of the game and led over the final 37:41 of the game. Matt Knowling led the Bulldogs in scoring with 20 points, his second 20+ point performance of the weekend.
Mississippi Valley State and Eastern Washington play today at 4:30 p.m. HST. Yale and Hawai‘i will tip off at 7 p.m. HST, with Spectrum Sports carrying the television broadcast and ESPN Honolulu carrying the radio broadcast.