The University of Hawai‘i men’s basketball trailed Mississippi Valley State for only 58 seconds of game time Friday night, but the Rainbow Warriors felt that they should not have trailed at any point of their 72-54 win at SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center.
“I think we were just playing passive, and we just needed an energy boost,” UH guard Noel Coleman said. “We needed to get ourselves going.”
Down 39-37 with over 15 minutes remaining, the Rainbow Warriors used a 19-3 scoring run over a five minute period to retake the lead and pick up their first win of the season on night one of the Outrigger Rainbow Classic.
Coleman had a game-high 22 points and Hawai‘i swingman Samuta Avea had 20 points in his first official game played in nearly 1,000 days, after opting out of the 2020–21 season and missing last season with a back injury.
“It felt good to be out there in front of my family and with the team,” Avea said. “Good first win, but (we) gotta really lock in and fix what we need to, and quick because there’s two good teams playing us.”
Avea made the first Hawai‘i basket of the game and the season with a layup underneath the basketball. The Rainbow Warriors were also able to generate a quick lead with three 3-pointers from Coleman to take a 17-11 lead at the second media timeout of the first half.
Coleman’s 3-pointers accounted for much of the Rainbow Warriors’ scoring, as UH went 4-of-20 from behind the 3-point line and went on cold streaks in the first half, including a scoring drought of over five minutes. Mississippi Valley State also scored four consecutive baskets late in the first half, which helped the Delta Devils trim their deficit to 30-28 at the half.
“We didn’t defend, they were way too comfortable,” UH coach Eran Ganot said about the Rainbow Warriors in the first half. “I think they were shooting 50%, so that's not what we want to do.”
Despite the first half performance of the Delta Devils, Hawai‘i as a team, was able to take advantage of the 23 offensive rebounds they had in the game to score 24 second chance points.
“We had great effort on the boards,” Coleman said. “I think we did a really good job on the boards today but just got to clean up a little bit on box outs.”
Yale 74, Eastern Washington 60
In the other game of the Outrigger Rainbow Classic that took place on Friday, Yale took down Eastern Washington 74-60 as Bulldogs forward Matt Knowling scored a game-high 26 points in the win.
Eastern Washington led 33-32 at halftime, but Yale went on a 25-5 run over the first 10 minutes of the second half — including a 19-0 run over a seven minute period — to take a lead that was as large as 19 points.
Hawai‘i plays Eastern Washington on Sunday at 5 p.m. HST. Spectrum Sports will have the television broadcast and ESPN Honolulu will have the radio broadcast. Yale plays Mississippi Valley State at 2:30 p.m. HST on Sunday.