Warrior Insider

The Inside Source for Hawaii Men's Basketball

UPDATED: Warriors hold off Mississippi Valley State in Classic opener, 72-54

As might be expected for an opening night performance, the University of Hawai’i basketball team made its share of missteps before ultimately completing the script on Saturday night.

The Rainbow Warriors opened the 2022-23 season with a 72-54 victory over Mississippi Valley State in a contest that was closer than the final score indicated – or perhaps should have been.

A crowd of 3,445 at SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center watched the Warriors squander a 10-point lead in the first half, then respond with a 30-13 surge in the game’s final 12 minutes to secure the win on the opening night of the Outrigger Rainbow Classic.

“It’s good to learn in every experience we get,” head coach Eran Ganot said. “There’s a lot of good today, and there’s some things we need to clean up.”

First, the good. Junior guard Noel Coleman scored a game-high 22 points, including 5-of-10 shooting from 3-point range. Senior forward Samuta Avea, playing his first official game since March of 2020, had 20 points on 8-of-14 shooting, including two highlight-reel dunks. Junior forward Bernardo da Silva recorded a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds.

“I thought Bernardo was great from start to finish; he imposed his will,” Ganot said. “We’re going to need everybody to get this done.”

Led by da Silva, the Warriors dominated the rebounding category, 43-23. Most impressive, Hawai’i had as many offensive rebounds (23) as the Delta Devils had total rebounds. As a result, the Warriors out-scored MVS 24-7 on “second chance” points.

Still, the Warriors needed the late surge to pull away from a MVS team that finished 2-26 last season and is not expected to be much better this season.

“We didn’t dictate for a long part of this game, in terms of tempo,” Ganot said. “They controlled it.”

MVS employed a zone defense throughout the game, challenging the Warriors to shoot over it. Hawai’i shot 4 for 20 from 3-point range in the first half, allowing the Delta Devils to stay close.

A 3-pointer by Avea gave the Warriors a 26-16 lead with 4:37 remaining in the first half, but the Delta Devils rallied with a 10-2 surge. The Warriors took a 30-28 lead at intermission.

Photo courtesy Matt Osumi

“Today, we didn’t make some of the shots that we normally make, but we smashed the boards,” Ganot said. “That helped us survive some of those missed shots.”

The Delta Devils maintained the momentum early in the second half, taking a 39-37 lead ln a layup by Michael Barber with 15:11 remaining.

The Warriors regained the lead at 42-39 after Coleman drained a 3-pointer with 13:07 remaining. That ignited an 11-2 Hawai’i run that stretched the lead to 53-41, and the Warriors stayed in front by double-digits the rest of the way.

Coleman noted that the Warriors were slow to adjust in an exhibition win over Hawai’i-Hilo last week, and it was a similar situation against MVS.

“Last game we had to tell ourselves the same thing over and over again and we didn’t fix it,” he said. “This game, we told ourselves twice and we kind of corrected it. I think there’s definitely progress there, which we should be optimistic about.”

Avea sparked the second half surge, scoring nine points in a five-minute stretch late in the game when the Warriors pulled away from the Delta Devils. It was his first official game in SimpliFi Arena since February 2020. He sat out the past two seasons for personal and injury reasons.

“It was just a joy to be out there with the team and be with the guys I’ve been working hard with,” he said.  “It has been a while, but it was fun. It’s a big weekend, so lots to clean up.”

Hawai’i shot 9 for 34 (26.5 percent) from 3-point range for the game, and 26 for 66 (39.4 percent) overall.

Photo courtesy Chris Kadooka

With the Warriors comfortably ahead in the closing minutes, all 14 players in uniform received game minutes. Seven-foot-1 freshman center Mor Seck scored six points in the game’s final five minutes.

The Delta Devils, who dropped to 0-2, were led by Terry Collins’ 15 points and six rebounds.

In Friday’s first game of the tournament, Yale defeated Eastern Washington, 74-60. The tournament will take Saturday off, then continue on Sunday. Yale will face Mississippi Valley State at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, followed by Hawai’i vs. Eastern Washington at 5:00 p.m.

CLICK HERE to view boxscore

CLICK HERE to view more photos

Outrigger Rainbow Classic
Friday’s Results

Yale 74, Eastern Washington 60
Hawai’i 72, Mississippi Valley State 54

Sunday, November 13
2:30 p.m. – Yale vs. Mississippi Valley State
5:00 p.m. – Hawai’i vs. Eastern Washington

Monday, November 14
4:30 p.m. – Mississippi Valley State vs. Eastern Washington
7:00 p.m. – Hawai’i vs. Yale

1 Comment

Leave a Response

Login or fill in the fields below to comment. (New user? Register)