The Hawaii men’s basketball team picked itself up from the absence of head coach Eran Ganot and defeated Florida A&M 65-52 in the 2019-20 season opener Friday night at the Stan Sheriff Center.
Ganot stepped away from the team on Wednesday for unspecified health concerns.
Chris Gerlufsen, who was hired in early September to be UH’s top assistant, coached the Rainbow Warriors to victory in Ganot’s stead. The acting head coach went in the record books as the 22nd head man in program history.
Junior forward Samuta Avea led UH with 15 points and nine rebounds, freshman forward Bernardo da Silva supplied 11 and seven in his debut, and forward Zigmars Raimo scored 10 as the Rainbows won their opener for the third straight year, and 10th time in 11 years, in front of a crowd of 3,481.
UH continues the Outrigger Resorts Rainbow Classic against South Dakota (1-0) on 5 p.m. on Sunday. The Coyotes beat Pacific 72-62 in tonight’s first game.
UH scored 19 of the game’s first 23 points and pretty much coasted from there against the Rattlers (0-2) of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, though neither team shot well, UH 36.1% and FAMU 27.9%.
True freshmen Kameron Ng, a guard out of Saint Francis School, and da Silva, a forward from Brazil, made first-half appearances and wasted little time in converting their first career points.
UH shot poorly in the first half — 31.4% — and it didn’t matter as A&M converted just 20% of its attempts to trail by 20 at intermission, 32-12. The Rattlers were two points from matching the Sheriff Center record for first-half futility, 10 points by Fresno State on Feb. 5, 2008.
Buggs hit a 3 for a 39-17 lead with 15 minutes left.
After an Ng turnover in the open court, da Silva erased a Bryce Moragne dunk with an emphatic swat out of bounds with 11:35 left, energizing the crowd.
Eddie Stansberry put in a layup after missing his first nine shots to keep the lead at 20 with 10 minutes to go. Redshirt freshman wing Zoar Nedd made on his first career shot, an elbow pull-up, for a 51-28 lead. The Rattlers narrowed the gap late.