Rainbows surge past Sharks thanks to scoring runs

On Sunday morning, there was a marathon on the streets of Honolulu.

In the late afternoon, a series of runs added up to the Hawaii basketball team’s 78-53 victory over Hawaii Pacific in SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center.


A crowd of 2,021 saw the Rainbow Warriors improve to 7-1. This game did not count in the standings for the Division II Sharks, who remain at 5-2.

The ‘Bows scored six unanswered points to extend their lead to 13-4, then went on a 12-0 run to make it 32-20 with 5:40 left in the first half. The ‘Bows scored 10 of the first 12 points after the intermission and, later, compiled an 8-0 run for a 68-41 lead with 6:42 to play.

“We dug a hole early, climbed back in it, but at the end of the day, they executed a ton better than we did,” said HPU coach Jesse Nakanishi, who was UH’s director of operations for three years through 2021. “They got a lot of effort plays and toughness plays that we didn’t, and they won those categories. It hit us in the long run.”

The ‘Bows’ guards also outplayed their counterparts. Noel Coleman scored 14 in surpassing the 1,000-point mark for his NCAA career.

“I’m grateful for it, Hawaii, and the school, and the coaching staff for giving me the opportunity in the first place,” said Coleman, who transferred to UH in July 2020 after a season at San Diego. “It’s a big milestone for me personally. But I want to keep building with this team.”

Coleman also was able to contain 6-4 guard Melo Sanchez, who entered averaging 16.9 points per game. Sanchez was 4-for-12 for 10 points.

“Just make it as hard as possible for them,” Coleman said. “Give them nothing easy. That was our game plan. I tried to execute the game plan.”

UH associate head coach John Montgomery said, “We knew Sanchez was a really good scorer. I thought Noel did a good job. He ended up making some shots. But I think we made him a volume shooter. He had to shoot a lot of attempts to get the points that he got.”

Juan Munoz continued his offensive surge, hitting all six of his first-half shots on his way to a team-high 15 points for UH.

After making all five of his 3s against Central Arkansas a week ago, Munoz came off the bench with 14:40 left in the half. He made his first three 3s, then showed his driving skills, hitting three layups.

“I thought about dunking, but Noel told me to calm down,” Munoz mused.

In the second half, Munoz assisted on 7-foot-1 Mor Seck’s alley-oop dunk.

“I missed him on the first one,” Munoz said. “That was my bad. I threw the ball way too hard at him. The second time, I saw the lane open up for Mor. He’s been yelling at me the whole time, ‘Throw it up, throw it up.’ I had to repay him.”

Nakanishi praised Munoz, who missed the previous two seasons because of injuries. “I’m really happy for him,” Nakanishi said. “He’s such a great kid. He’s put in the work. He has an amazing story. He gives a great lift to them.”

HPU’s 7-foot-4 Matt Van Komen was held to 2 points on 1-for-3 shooting in 23 minutes. Two weeks ago, UH faced Utah, the nation’s tallest team with an average height of 6-7 1 /2. Montgomery said the ‘Bows worked on defending the Sharks’ high-low attack in practices leading to Sunday’s game.

“We knew they wanted to throw it over the top,” Montgomery said. “We had a good prep because Utah did it as well. It was almost like a two-week prep for (the Sharks) in terms of their size. Our two keys were to take away their guards and make it hard to score inside.”

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