Hawaii made its first six shots from the field and beat Montana State 87-76 in the men’s basketball season opener for both teams Friday.
Post Stefan Jankovic paced UH’s first-half barrage with 11 of his 15 points in head coach Eran Ganot’s debut. Newcomer wing Sai Tummala added 11 of his 17 before the break, including 3-for-3 on 3-pointers.
A crowd announced at 4,515 saw it at the Stan Sheriff Center.
Wing Aaron Valdes, who led Hawaii with 18 points, scored the first basket of the season on a layup after a pass from Jankovic in the the high post. UH never trailed.
Forward Zach Green and guard Tyler Hall each scored 15 to lead Montana State of the Big Sky Conference.
In an earlier first-day game of the Rainbow Classic, also at the Sheriff Center, Nevada beat Coastal Carolina 73-56.
Hawaii led 48-27 at halftime and was never seriously threatened after intermission; Montana State rallied in the closing minutes but it was too little, too late. UH made just nine of 20 free throws in the second half, allowing the Bobcats to cut into what was at its peak a 26-point margin with 14:33 left in the game.
The Rainbows, who went 22-13 under interim coach Benjy Taylor last season, jumped to a 16-6 lead with two baskets off steals, and 3-pointers by Jankovic and Roderick Bobbitt.
The Bobcats (7-23 last season) closed to 20-17 on Tyson Kanyeso’s dunk at 10:36 of the half, but Isaac Fleming, Tummala and Valdes scored the next three baskets to put the Rainbows back in control.
Bobbitt, who led the nation in steals last year, had three of his five thefts in the first half. He also scored 10 points and dished out 14 assists.
Hawaii plays Coastal Carolina on Sunday. Tip-off is 4:30 p.m.
Nevada 73, Coastal Carolina 56: Former NBA coach Eric Musselman was a winner with the Wolf Pack in his college coaching debut.
Guard D.J. Fenner led the way with a game-high 16 points with eight rebounds Forward AJ West chipped in 12 points and 11 rebounds, forward Cameron Oliver came off the bench to contribute 13 points, seven boards and three blocks, and guard Marqueze Coleman scored 14.
The Wolf Pack and Chanticleers of the Big South were locked in a defensive struggle at halftime, but the Pack exploded in the second period for 52 points on 53.1 percent shooting.
Coastal Carolina, which appeared in the last two NCAA Tournaments, was led by Badou Diagne with 15 points, while reserve Marcus Freeman added 10 points and 13 rebounds.