Hawaii's Noel Coleman leads the way in Rainbows' rout

Nov. 14—Displaying fire at both ends, Noel Coleman led an ensemble cast in Hawaii's 71-51 victory over Eastern Washington at SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center.

Displaying fire at both ends, Noel Coleman led an ensemble cast in Hawaii's 71-51 victory over Eastern Washington at SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center.

Coleman scored 15 points and shut down 6-foot-7 wing Steele Venters to boost the Rainbow Warriors in the second round of the Outrigger Resorts Rainbow Classic. The'Bows will face Yale tonight in a meeting of 2-0 teams.

"Noel did a special job, " power forward Kamaka Hepa said of the 6-foot-2 Coleman. "He was really the head of the snake in terms of what we wanted to do against Eastern Washington and their players. They have a couple of big wings. One of the things we emphasized going into this game was their size against us. Noel stepped up to the challenge, and he did what he had to do for us to get the win."

Last season, Venters finished sixth nationally in 3-point accuracy (43.7 %) while averaging 16.7 points. He hit three 3s and scored 15 in the opening-round loss to Yale. But Venters could not get untracked against Coleman's static-cling defense. He was held to 2-for-6 shooting, missing his only 3 attempt, to end up with four points in 31 minutes, 17 seconds. He committed three of the Eagles' 16 turnovers.

"I had a job, " Coleman said, "and I made sure I did that job, which I think I did. We had a game plan. Coaches challenged me. They trusted me. I had to show up for them."

UH coach Eran Ganot said : "How about Noel's defense for us against a guy who's been prolific ? And Noel carries such a load on the other end for us."

Coleman hit three 3s and shot 4-for-11, but it was his missed dunk that electrified the crowd of 2, 589. Relying on a 44-inch vertical jump, Coleman soared for a jam that would not fall in the second half.

"His eyes were at the rim, " said Hepa, who had a corner view of Coleman's flight. "I had the perfect direct angle. When he missed, I was a bit surprised."

It was one of the few times the'Bows did not finish what they started. Hepa's 3 sparked the'Bows to a 9-0 lead. The'Bows weathered an EWU rally, then closed the first half with a 12-4 run to take a 33-23 advantage into the intermission.

Samuta Avea hit back-to-back 3s to sandwich Hepa's block to open the second half. The'Bows' 10-0 run in the final 5 minutes denied any EWU comeback.

"They took on the challenge, and that's a credit to them the way they responded from certain things from the last game, " Ganot said of Friday night's victory over Mississippi Valley State. "But how about the start of each half and the finish of each half ? Kamaka set the tone. You see the aggressiveness. You don't want to be on your heels. We were aggressive all night against a really good team."

Alternating between stretch-four and rim protector, Hepa produced 17 points and nine rebounds.

In his second game since March 2020, Avea had 10 points and played tough perimeter defense.

Bernardo da Silva, a 6-foot-9 center, had 14 points and six rebounds.

And backup guard Justus Jackson provided a spark for the second consecutive game. Jackson hit a 3, blitzed past a defender for a layup, and energized the pace. Hepa said Jackson and starting point guard JoVon McClanahan are roommates who study videos and game plans together. "It's not a surprise to see the strides they're making, " Hepa said.

Ganot said : "We had our hands full against a good team. We had to deal with some foul trouble. And they mixed up the man and zone (defenses ) very effectively. That got us out of sorts. But our guys stuck together and competed well."