Warriors shoot past Fullerton on road, 76-68

Hawai’i guard Noel Coleman scored a game-high 21 points Thursday evening to help the Warriors earn their second road victory of the Big West Conference season. (Brandon Flores file photo)

Good shooting, good defense and good rebounding resulted in good times for the University of Hawai’i men’s basketball team Thursday, as the Warriors earned a crucial 76-68 road victory at Cal State Fullerton.

A student-led energetic crowd of 1,339 at Titan Gym watched JoVon McClanahan and Ryan Rapp each add 11 points off the bench and Juan Munoz contribute 10 points to help UH improve to 12-10 overall and 4-6 in the Big West Conference, good for a four-way tie for sixth place. Dominic Brewton scored 19 points and Tory San Antonio added 13 points for Cal State Fullerton, which fell to 11-11 and 3-7.

The Warriors, who struggled with outside shooting on their previous road trip two weeks ago, burned the nets for much of the first half on Thursday in jumping out to stunning leads of 16-4, 26-8 and 31-11 in the first 15 minutes. The Titans finally awoke for an 11-0 run capped by Brewton’s steal and layup to cut it to 31-22 with 2:07 remaining, but Hawai’i recovered and managed to take a 36-24 lead into halftime.

“We were playing a team that won three in a row, at their home court … (but) our guys were ready to go, they were locked in,” Warriors coach Eran Ganot said in his postgame radio interview. “We were good offensively, we were ridiculous defensively, dominant on the boards. You knew they would make their runs, I think our guys weathered it … I’m just really proud of our guys, they’ve been working, they’ve been competing.”

In the first half, UH shot 46 percent from the field and out-rebounded Cal State Fullerton, 25-10.

The Warriors then opened the second half with an 11-6 surge and da Silva’s two free throws pushed the lead to 47-30 four minutes in. They led, 59-42, after Rapp’s 3-pointer from the right wing with 9:37 left, but Kendrick De Luna answered with a short baseline hook shot to ignite a 9-0 run capped by San Antonio’s two free throws that cut it to 59-51 with seven minutes still to go.

The Titans got as close as 66-59 on Brewton’s 3-pointer from the right corner with 3:14 remaining, and it was 75-68 after Grayson Carper’s 3-pointer from the left wing with 24.7 seconds left. But Coleman immediately sank one of two free throws to seal the victory.

Hawai’i won the rebounding battle, 38-21, and notched 15 second-chance points to zero for Cal State Fullerton.

“Our bench was great, everybody in our group was great, that’s why we gave ourselves a chance to do something really good for our team,” Ganot said. “We had to do it in different ways, our 3-point rate was better, (we were) more balanced, we played inside-out, we got to the line … All those things put together, and you get something special — a win on the road.”

Munoz appeared to suffer a minor injury in the second half and did not return.

“He’s doing all right,” Ganot said. “We’ll see and navigate (his status).”

Big West Standings

  1. UC Irvine (9-1)
  2. UC San Diego (9-1)
  3. UC Davis (8-2)
  4. UC Santa Barbara (5-5)
  5. Long Beach State (5-5)
  6. Cal State Northridge (4-6)
  7. HAWAI’I (4-6)
  8. Cal State Fullerton (4-6)
  9. Cal State Bakersfield (4-6)
  10. UC Riverside (3-7)
  11. Cal Poly (0-10)

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