Warriors top UC Riverside, 76-73, in overtime

Hawai’i guard Noel Coleman poured in a game-high 31 points Saturday afternoon to help the Warriors secure a crucial road victory at UC Riverside. (Chris Kadooka file photo)

In a spectacular and clutch performance for the ages, Hawai’i guard Noel Coleman matched a career-high with 31 points and added eight rebounds Saturday to lift the Warriors to a crucial 76-73 overtime road victory at UC Riverside.

A sparse and stunned crowd of 632 at SRC Arena watched Bernardo da Silva score 16 points with nine boards and three assists and Justin McKoy add 10 points and nine boards as the Warriors improved to 17-13 overall and 9-9 in the Big West Conference. Nate Pickens scored a team-high 16 points and Barrington Hargress added 15 points, six rebounds and five assists for the Highlanders, who fell to 13-17, 8-10.

The victory was critical on two major fronts:

  1. It moved UH closer to a top nine finish in the league standings and securing a spot in the Big West Tournament from March 13-16. UC San Diego, currently in second place, is ineligible for postseason action, and only the top eight remaining teams will advance.
  2. It kept the Warriors in contention for a Top four regular season finish, which would result in a first-round bye in the upcoming tournament.

Aside from those practical reasons, the win was also significant considering UCR had won five of its previous six games and was regarded as the hottest team in the conference.

Hawai’i did catch a break prior to tipoff, when it was revealed Highlanders leading scorer Isaiah Moses did not suit up and was out for the game due to undisclosed reasons. Despite his absence, UC Riverside used a six-minute Warriors scoring drought to build a 9-0 run capped by Nili Oyabode’s steal and fast break slam dunk to put the Highlanders ahead, 18-10, with 8:48 remaining in the first half.

Later, with 5:34 left, da Silva scored on a layup to ignite a dramatic 16-2 reversal that closed out the half with UH in front, 30-24. Juan Munoz opened the second half with a 3-pointer from the right wing, and da Silva later scored on a putback to push the Warriors ahead, 39-29, with 15:28 left.

The lead was 60-55 with 3:11 showing on the clock after a slam dunk by da Silva, but UCR eventually tied it at 60-60 on Hargress’ driving layup with 1:59 still remaining.

Coleman put Hawai’i back in front, 65-62, with 0:40.3 showing on the clock by hitting a transition 3-pointer from the right wing off da Silva’s assist. But after a made free throw and Warriors turnover, Kyle Owens scored a layup off an awkward one-foot runner to tie it at 65-65 with 11.7 ticks left.

JoVon McClanahan put up a potential game-winner from the right baseline on UH’s next possession, but the high-archer rode the top of backboard and the whistle blew with two seconds remaining. Owens’ Hail Mary from well beyond the top of the key missed the mark, forcing the extra period.

McKoy sank two free throws with 3:17 left in OT to put the Warriors in front for good at 69-67, and Coleman swished a 3-pointer from the right wing to make it 74-68 with 0:53.5 showing. Hargress later closed it to 74-73 on a layup with 22.3 ticks remaining, but Ryan Rapp drained a pair of free throws to push it to 76-73 with 5.9 seconds left.

Hargress’ final 3-point attempt from the right wing missed the mark as time expired.

Only then could Hawai’i coach Eran Ganot let out a huge sigh of relief.

“They can (score) quick,” Ganot said of the Highlanders, in his postgame radio interview. “We watched them here (against UC Irvine), it’s a tie game … and then they’re up 18 or 20. A lot of that is because they can spread you, they can get to the rim. Obviously Hargress is a handful, Pickens was very aggressive, he’s really improved. And they have great shooting — Kyle Owens in the post, Kaleb Smith in the post.

“They’re a very good team. I think the rebounding was key, in key moments. We did not do a good job to start the game on the boards, there was a point where we saying, ‘Hey fellas, they’re scoring off our turnovers and off of second chances. if we can clean that up … we’re playing a good game.’ Obviously in some key moments late it came back to us, and I’m glad we finished it out.”

The Warriors are scheduled to return home Sunday and will play host to Cal State Northridge on Wednesday.


  1. UC Irvine (15-3)
  2. UC San Diego (14-4)
  3. UC Davis (12-6)
  4. Long Beach State (10-8)
  5. HAWAI’I (9-9)
  6. CSUN (9-10)
  7. UC Riverside (8-10)
  8. UC Santa Barbara (8-10)
  9. Cal State Bakersfield (8-11)
  10. Cal State Fullerton (7-11)
  11. Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (0-18)

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