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UPDATED: Warriors shut down FAMU in season opener, 65-52

Even with its head coach out on medical leave and a backcourt suddenly thinned by injury, Hawai’i showed that things are still business as usual in Friday night’s definitive 65-52 season-opening victory over visiting Florida A & M in the 55th Annual Outrigger Resorts Rainbow Classic. 

An appreciative Stan Sheriff Center crowd of about 3,200 (5,093 tickets issued) watched Samuta Avea score 15 points and grab nine rebounds, Bernardo Da Silva add 11 points, seven boards and two blocks, and Zigmars Raimo finish with 10 points and five boards in the Warriors’ 100th season opener.

Drew Buggs added nine points, seven boards and five assists as UH won despite the absence of head coach Eran Ganot, who is on indefinite medical leave, and backup point guard Justin Webster, who is nursing an ankle injury.

Kamron Reaves scored 11 points to lead the Rattlers, who fell to 0-2.

“The great part about our program is we have a foundation, and it doesn’t change (with Ganot missing),” said acting head coach Chris Gerlufsen. “We’re very detailed in what we do … and our guys were locked in and ready to play.”  

The Warriors certainly began the night without skipping a beat, using an active defense and up-tempo transition game to jump out to a 21-4 lead in the game’s first 11 minutes, and then expanded it to 32-12 by halftime. Hawai’i held FAMU to 20-percent (5 for 25) shooting in the first half, and out-rebounded the Rattlers 30-18 in the period.

Raimo and Avea each had eight points by halftime, and Avea also notched seven rebounds. 

“They pressured us all game, so they made us look down the court early,” Avea said. 

Said Buggs: “It’s easier to get out on transition when you’re playing good defense and force tough shots, and we did that in the first half. We forced a lot of tough shots, which allowed us to get out on fast breaks.”

With Webster in street clothes, true freshman walk-on Kameron Ng was inserted into the game after the first media timeout and promptly swished a 3-pointer from the left wing on his first college shot attempt to put the Warriors ahead, 13-4, with 15:22 remaining.

“Kameron did a great job today, we have full confidence in him,” Buggs said. “I talk to him all the time and try to give him as many pointers as I can, but he already is a great player and he brings his own style to the game. He’s only going to get better.”

Gerlufsen said Ng, a Saint Francis graduate from Kane’ohe who is listed at 5 feet 11 inches and 165 pounds, is showing the potential to be a key contributor this season.

“Kam is a tough little guy, and I think he has a chance to make an impact,” Gerlufsen said. “He just needs to get more game experience. But the good thing about him tonight was he showed a lot of heart — for a freshman walk-on to come into the game and take an open 3 and knock it down … that showed a lot of heart to me.” 

FAMU opened the second half with a 5-0 run to close it to 32-17 after M.J. Randolph’s 3-pointer with 17:23 remaining, but UH responded with an 11-0 run to stretch the lead to 43-17 on Da Silva’s free throw with 14 minutes left, and the Rattlers could not get closer than 15 points until the final minute.

Da Silva, a 6-9 freshman forward from Brazil, was very active in the paint and showed his athleticism during his 18-plus minutes off the bench.

“It’s no surprise to us, it’s what you expect from ‘B,’ ” said Buggs. “He’s a high-energy guy, he’s very active and you can see it on both ends of the floor. He came in there and he played just how we expected him to play, and he did a great job. We know it’s only up from here with him, he’s a young guy and this is just the surface.”

Gerlufsen and the Warriors said one disappointment in the team’s opening performance was a partial letdown late in the second half, when a 61-35 lead dwindled slowly down to the final 13-point margin.

“We gotta do better and pick it up in the second half, we fell off a little bit and that’s not like us,” Buggs said.  

Said Gerlufsen: “In the second half, we played to the scoreboard a bit, and that’s not Hawai’i basketball. We’ll address that tomorrow.”

Hawai’i’s next game is at 5 p.m. Sunday at the SSC against South Dakota, which defeated Pacific, 72-62, on Friday.

Gerlufsen said Webster had his walking boot removed Friday, but his status is still “day-to-day.”

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Game photos courtesy Matt Osumi

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3 Comments

  1. Great summary, Mahalo.
    BigWestTV, perfect.

  2. Very ragged game but it was nice to see guys like Hemsley, Avea and De Silva get a lot of minutes.

  3. @PONO
    Agree but hopefully Hemsley can bounce back tonight. He had a rough go with the foul trouble that for sure threw him off. He also missed a few dunk attempts that I think by the end of the season he’ll throw down. Had to have been those first game jitters.

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