Warrior Insider

The Inside Source for Hawaii Men's Basketball

UPDATED: Warriors pull away from HPU in season opener, 83-50

Just like the month-delayed season opener itself, the University of Hawai’i men’s basketball team was “better late than never” Friday night in surging past crosstown NCAA Division II rival Hawai’i Pacific, 83-50, for its 2020-21 debut performance. 

Photo courtesy Brandon Flores www.brandonfloresphotography.com

Before a crowdless SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center that had no fans, no band, and no cheerleaders and Rainbow Dancers, newcomer James Jean-Marie scored a game-high 21 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, returning center Mate Colina added 17 points and six boards and Justin Webster contributed 12 points and four rebounds.

David Rowlands scored 12 points to lead HPU, which was officially playing the game as an “exhibition.” 

UH originally was scheduled to open the season against Washington State on Nov. 11, but had that opener and at least seven other games canceled due to the impact of COVID-19.

“We needed to get out there,” Warriors coach Eran Ganot said. “(It was) a great first win for the group. Really sloppy first half … good job coming out of the gates defensively, but you could tell a lot of the guys haven’t played (games) for awhile or played together. We played out of sorts offensively, took bad shots, started gambling defensively. (But) I’m really proud of the guys with their ability to bounce back in the second half, I think the first three or four possessions of the second half set the tone, and their ability to get back to playing together and sharing the ball, playing solid defensively … and getting a lot of guys in there.

“It’s going to be a very evolving group, and some guys have been out for some time, but it’s nice to see them out there playing.”

Hawai’i jumped out to a 9-3 lead in the first five minutes but the Warriors’ play then got a bit ragged and HPU found its rhythm, eventually taking a 17-13 lead after back-to-back 3-pointers by Rowlands to cap a 14-4 run with eight minutes remaining in the half.

UH recovered with a 14-8 surge capped by Colina’s two free throws to take a 27-23 lead with 1:42 left, and proceeded to secure a 30-25 lead at halftime.

Photo courtesy Brandon Flores www.brandonfloresphotography.com

“I think the biggest thing as a team was this really was the first time we actually were playing together (in a game),” said Colina, a 7-foot sophomore who had a team-high nine points by halftime. “As you could see at the start, we’re still learning how each other plays, learning our strengths and seeing it in a game.”

The Warriors then opened the second half with a 14-4 run in the first four minutes to go up, 44-29, and HPU never got closer than 13 points the rest of the way.

Colina bookended the run with a layup and putback, and Jardine and Webster swished 3-pointers from the right and left corner, respectively.

Minutes later, Jardine added deep 3-pointers from the left wing and beyond the top of the key, the latter of which pushed the lead to 52-31 with 13:34 remaining. Jardine, a 6-7 forward who graduated from Utah Valley, finished with 11 points and five rebounds. He was 3-for-3 from beyond the arc in the second half, after missing his first two 3-point attempts in the first half. The rest of the Warriors went a combined 3-for-15 (20 percent) from 3-point range.

Fortunately, more long range baskets were not needed, as Jean-Marie started to dominate near the basket. He scored 15 of his 21 points in the final 14:11, including a deep 3-pointer from beyond the top of the key to make it 57-31 with 12 minutes left and later two free throws and a pair of layups to stretch the lead to 79-44 with 3:16 showing on the clock.

“We’ve done a good job in practice, but the way we started the game wasn’t good enough,” said Jean-Marie, a 6-8 transfer from San Diego who is originally from Montreal. “Of course I’d rather play (in front of) fans, because it’s just a better vibe. But we have to take care of business, and play for each other and the team. Fans or no fans, we still have to play hard, it shouldn’t matter.”

Jean-Marie (6 for 6) and Colina (4 for 4) combined to shoot 10 for 10 from the field in the second half to help the Warriors pull away.

UH dominated the boards (18 rebounds to 7) in the second half, and more than doubled its field goal percentage (66.7 percent to 30.3 percent) after halftime. The Warriors also shot better from the free throw line (7-for-7, compared to 10 of 15) in the final 20 minutes.

Their Big West season opener is scheduled for Dec. 27 at home against Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, but it is possible one other non-conference game could be squeezed in before then. Either way, Ganot said there is more than enough work to be done in practice.

Photo courtesy Brandon Flores www.brandonfloresphotography.com

“I think it’s a work in progress, and for natural reasons,” Ganot said. “We want to be the most improved team in the league, from start to finish. I think they’re great guys, so I feel good about them coming along. (But) we have a lot of newcomers and we’ve had so many guys in and out (with injuries) … they haven’t played together. Just in the last week, we felt a flow there, where we had over 11 guys (healthy) for the first time, and if we can maintain that the next couple of weeks, we can make another push in terms of coming together.

“Finals (next week) is a real focus for us, but after finals, it’s all hoops. And it couldn’t happen at a better time for our guys. I’m looking forward to working with them and getting more comfortable. … We’ll work on Cal Poly (preparation), but right now it starts with us and we need this time. We lost a lot of time, for obvious reasons, but this could be one of the critical stretches of our season, coming up.”

Also of note in the season opener:

• Hawai’i’s starting lineup was Webster, Noel Coleman and Junior Madut at guards, Jardine at forward, and Colina at Center.

• Thirteen of the 14 players on the UH roster saw action. Sophomore forward/center Bernardo da Silva did not play due to an undisclosed injury.

• Both teams used “socially distant” bench seating with players and coaches spread out in three rows, with six to seven seats per row.

• Fans were not allowed into the arena, but crowd noise was played through the arena sound system throughout the game.

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  1. Yayayay nice win bows! 2nd half was great basketball…Lots of new talent to play with for coach G! I stream from cali & they cut off post game??? Never used to…Anyone notice??

  2. Couldn’t post comments on this site for awhile until now. Interesting newcomers added to the returning players. Mate played a tremendous game, among the others such as James, Casdon and Webster.

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