Noel Coleman's second-half surge helps Hawaii beat Long Beach State

Jan. 15—The Hawaii basketball team lost the paint wars but prevailed in everything else in Saturday night's 79-70 victory over Long Beach State in SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center.

The Hawaii basketball team lost the paint wars but prevailed in everything else in Saturday night's 79-70 victory over Long Beach State in SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center.

A crowd of 4, 198 saw the'Bows score 10 of the final 12 points, solve Tone Hunter's right-minded talents, and control the boards to improve to 13-4 overall and 4-1 in the Big West. Noel Coleman produced 19 of his season-high 25 points after the intermission.

The Beach, who had to deal with a same-day arrival to Honolulu and an injury to their best playmaker, fell to 8-10 and 2-4.

"They're a heck of a team, and we've had a lot of battles with them, " UH coach Eran Ganot said. "We're pleased to get this victory for those reasons."

LBSU was forced to scramble this week when heavy rain forced the game against Cal Poly to be moved from Wednesday to Thursday. That pushed back the Beach's travel plans to Hawaii to Friday. But after gathering at their campus arena on Friday morning, the Beach were told their non-stop flight would be delayed from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. They arrived in Honolulu at 3 a.m. Saturday, and checked into a Waikiki hotel at 4.

Despite having to relinquish Saturday's shoot-around session, LBSU coach Dan Monson said the 13-hour travel delay did not factor in the outcome.

"I don't think so, " Monson said. "We're not about excuses. We just got beat today."

Even without point guard Joel Murray, the defending Big West scoring champion, the Beach were able to ignite their power inside attack. They entered averaging 42.5 paint points per game. Led by Hunter, Murray's understudy, the Beach raced to a 14-6 lead, out-hustling the'Bows at both ends. During one stretch, the'Bows missed 19 of 22 shots, including all nine attempts from behind the arc.

But the'Bows were able to force the action with drives into the lane. They hit all eight of their first-half free throws. The Beach did not attempt a free throw until 51.4 seconds before halftime. Amari Stroud's free throw on an and-1 play broke a 26-all tie.

But the'Bows took the lead on Kamaka Hepa's tip of his own miss, and Bernardo da Silva closed the half with a driving layup.

UH wing Samuta Avea hit three 3s, all at crucial moments, in finishing with 17 points. Coleman swished a 3 from the right wing to extend the'Bows' lead to 72-68 with 1 :28 left. Later, Coleman drove the lane and banked a shot to make it 75-70.

The Beach built a 50-28 advantage in paint points, but the'Bows dominated at the line, hitting 22 of 27 free throws. The Beach finished 10-for-16 at the line. The'Bows also contained Hunter, whose preference is to go to his right. Forced away from his favored path, Hunter, who had 10 first-half points, went 2-for-5 after the break. With 1 :15 to go, Hunter spun away from pressure and toward the 6-9 da Silva, who forced an errant pass.

Long Beach forward Lassina Traore, who entered as the league's top rebounder, had four points and three boards before fouling out with 6 :11 to play. Traore was key in the Beach's defensive plans, often picking up the point guard and then sliding down to guard a post player.

"It was a very physical game, hard fought, " Monson said. "I thought it was a good college basketball game. ... We just didn't sustain our defense in the second half as well as they did. On the road, you can't turn it into an offensive trading-baskets game, and we couldn't get a stop."

The'Bows outscored the Beach 49-43 in the second half. The'Bows also constructed a 48-39 advantage in rebounds, including pulling down 16 offensive boards, against an opponent that entered with an average plus-5.3 per game.

UH plays host to Cal State Northridge on Monday, with tip-off set for 5 p.m.