Familiar faces lead Hawaii over Mississippi Valley State in season opener

Nov. 12—The Hawaii basketball team pumped up the volume in a season-opening 72-54 victory over Mississippi Valley State in SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center.

The Hawaii basketball team pumped up the volume in a season-opening 72-54 victory over Mississippi Valley State in SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center.

A crowd of 3, 445 saw the'Bows take significantly more shots and grab more rebounds in Friday night's first round of the Outrigger Resorts Rainbow Classic.

Back at full health, combo guard Noel Coleman and wing Samuta Avea scored 22 and 20 points and ignited the'Bows' second-half surge.

Coleman, who missed the final month of last season because of a fractured orbital bone, broke a 39-all tie when he buried a 3 with 13 :06 to play. The'Bows would not relinquish the lead the rest of the way.

After MVSU's Walter Hamilton scored on a tip, the'Bows reeled off nine points in a row.

Playing in his first UH game since March 7, 2020—he opted out of the pandemic-impacted 2020-21 season and then missed last season because of an injury—Avea was back to his multi-skilled ways. In one three-possession sequence, Avea slammed off a lob from JoVon McClanahan, scored on a turnaround jumper in the lane, and hit a 3.

"It was cool, for sure, " Avea said of the run. "Just being able to make a play when we needed, and being able to play in front of the fans again, was fun. ... But It's still a work in progress. There's a lot I need to clean up."

The'Bows missed 16 of 20 shots from beyond the arc in the first 20 minutes. But they were able to extend possessions by dominating the boards. Their 23 offensive rebounds were as many as the Delta Devils' overall total. The'Bows, who pulled down 43 rebounds, constructed a 24-7 advantage in second-chance points.

"We've got to block out, " MVSU coach George Ivory said. "We gave up too many offensive rebounds."

The'Bows shot 26-for-66 to the Delta Devils' 21-for-49.

"We took some good shots—shots we normally make, " UH coach Eran Ganot said. "The good thing is we were crashing the boards. ... I like to think we're a good rebounding team. Obviously, we imposed our will in this game. (Rebounding ) was a big difference in this game."

The Delta Devils opened their season on Monday without five of their top 10 players because of eligibility concerns. Hamilton and Ernest Minton were cleared to play on Friday.

MVSU opened with a 2-3 zone and deliberate offense. But the Delta Devils could not keep the'Bows off the boards. They eventually switched to a man-to-man.

"We wanted to go to a man because sometimes we get too relaxed in a zone instead of being aggressive, " Ivory said.

The UH posts were impactful in the paint. Bernardo da Silva scored 10 points, unveiling a step-out hook, and suctioned 11 rebounds. Kamaka Hepa managed only five points, but he served as point forward (four assists ) and active defender.

Last week, point guard Juan Munoz suffered a season-ending Achilles injury in an exhibition against Hawaii Hilo. McClanahan started at the point. Justus Jackson, who joined the'Bows last December, was part of a lineup that went on a 9-0 run in the second half. The'Bows were plus-14 with Jackson on the court.

"Justus gave us a lift off the bench, " said Ganot, who also credited da Silva, Hepa and Avea with providing steady leadership.

"I think Samuta's getting comfortable, " Ganot said. "Breakthroughs need to happen for him, because he's missed so much time."

In the earlier game, Yale scored 19 unanswered points to break a 38-all tie and speed away to a 74-60 victory over Eastern Washington.

Matt Knowling connected on 10 of 15 shots, including all four from 3-point range, and finished with a game-high 26 points. Knowling was 7-for-10 after the intermission.

The Bulldogs outscored the Eagles 42-27 in the second half.

The Eagles made two runs to narrow the deficit, but both times the 6-foot-6 Knowling answered with a 3.

Steele Venters led the Eagles with 15 points before fouling out in the final minute.