Warriors shoot past Niagara, 92-73

Noel Coleman scored a game-high 21 points on 7-of-12 shooting, including 3 of 7 from 3-point range, to help Hawai’i beat Niagara and improve to 2-0. (Brandon Flores photo)

Taking full advantage of its last-minute “bonus game” opportunity, Hawai’i shot past visiting Niagara, 92-73, Thursday night in nonconference men’s basketball action.

A sparse but lively “WhiteOut” crowd of 1,862 in SimpliFi Arena at the Stan Sheriff Center watched Noel Coleman score a game-high 21 points and JoVon McClanahan and Bernardo da Silva each add 14 points as the Warriors improved to 2-0. Braxton Bayless scored 20 points and Kwane Marble added 11 points to lead the Purple Eagles, who fell to 0-3.

This game was officially added to the schedule just six days prior, to fill a void left by the cancellation of the annual Rainbow Classic.

UH jumped out to a 14-2 lead in the first six minutes and led 20-4 eight minutes in, before weathering a Niagara surge and eventually taking a 48-38 lead into halftime. The Purple Eagles closed it to 48-40 in the opening moments of the second half, but the Warriors responded with a 7-1 run to take a 55-41 lead on McClanahan’s layup three minutes in and Niagara never got closer than 11 points the rest of the way.

“We had so much respect for them going in, I think that helped us in practice and it helped us get off to a good start,” Hawai’i coach Eran Ganot said. “We know we’re not where we want to be yet, but we gotta keep taking steps, and today was a step.”

After freshman guard Ahmad Henderson opened the game with a layup 35 seconds in, McClanahan quickly responded with a short pull-up jumper to ignite a 14-0 run capped by Coleman’s 3-pointer from beyond the top of the key with 14:13 remaining in the first half. Coleman then swished another 3-pointer from the same area, this time in transition two minutes later, to make it 20-4.

“It definitely helps when you make your first shot, just giving you that confidence boost,” said Coleman, a senior guard and co-captain. “Just being experienced, knowing that you have to go hard from the jump, I think it helps a lot with your energy throughout the game, and your confidence.”

Henderson capped a 9-2 run with a three-point play to cut it to 22-13 midway through the first half, but that would end his scoring for the night as he finished just 3 of 11 from the field for seven points. He had scored 14 in the season opener at Notre Dame on Nov. 6 and poured in 28 points in a home loss to Bucknell last Saturday, earning him Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Rookie of the Week honors.

“He’s a really good player, I just wanted to make sure we respected him and keyed on him, and made none of his shots easy,” said McClanahan, who drew the assignment to guard Henderson. “I think I was just ready for the staggers and him being ready to shoot, and (assistant coach) Rob Jones did an incredible scout, so that I could know exactly where he was going to be on the floor. I think we blew up most of their actions going towards him, because he is one of their primary scorers.

“And Noel did a helluva job on No. 5 (Luke Bumbalough), one of their top scorers. We just took out their main guys, that was our key and that’s why we won by our margin.”

Justin McKoy scored 12 points and grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds for the Warriors, who next play Northern Arizona on Tuesday in a rare 8:30 p.m. tipoff, due to following four games in the AllState Maui Invitational.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Theme Blog Explorer by Kantipur Themes