Marqueze Coleman did all he could to prevent the Nevada Wolf Pack’s first loss of the season.
The senior guard scored 34 points as the Wolf Pack fell to the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors, 76-75, early Tuesday morning in the Outrigger Resorts Rainbow Classic at Honolulu’s Stan Sheriff Center. A crowd of 5,471 saw Coleman score 32 points in the second half, including his layup with eight seconds to go that gave the Pack a 75-74 lead after trailing by 16 at one point early in the second half.
Hawaii is now 3-0 on the year while the Pack fell to 2-1. The Wolf Pack was hoping for its first 3-0 start since the 2006-07 team started 7-0.
Coleman’s 34 points are the most scored by a Pack player since Malik Story scored 35 in a win over Yale on Dec. 28. 2012. It is the first time a Pack player scored 30 or more points in a game since Cole Huff had 31 and Deonte Burton had 32 against Fresno State on Jan. 22, 2014. Coleman’s previous career high was 24 points against New Mexico in Feb. 15, 2015. He had scored 20 or more points in a game just twice in his career (24 against New Mexico last year and 20 against Montana State on Sunday).
Unfortunately for Coleman and the Pack, Coleman’s 34 points are the most ever scored by a Pack player in a loss since Nick Fazekas scored 37 in a loss also at Hawaii (73-69) on Jan. 5, 2006.
Coleman turned in his memorable performance despite playing just 24 minutes. He played just four minutes in the first half, scoring just two points and taking just two shots as the Pack fell behind 40-28 at the break. In the second half he never left the floor, playing all 20 minutes and scoring 32 points on 9-of-12 shooting from the floor and 13-of-16 from the free throw line. The Wolf Pack, despite the loss, outscored Hawaii 47-36 in the second half and has now outscored the opposition 141-94 in the second half through three games.
Coleman scored 32 of the Pack’s 47 points in the second half. At one point he scored 11 Pack points in a row and 13-of-15. He also scored 19 of the Pack’s final 23 points as the Wolf Pack staged a furious comeback and actually took the lead in the final seconds. The only Pack players other than Coleman to score in the final seven minutes of the game were D.J. Fenner and Cameron Oliver. Fenner’s dunk gave the Pack its first lead (64-63 with 3:55 to go) since 15-14 with 11 minutes to go in the first half. Oliver’s dunk gave the Pack a 70-69 lead with 1:20 to go. Other than that, though, it was all Coleman all the time in the second half.
Coleman caught fire just as the game was getting out of hand. Hawaii had taken a 46-30 lead with 16 minutes to go and was seemingly going to coast to the victory on its home floor. The 6-foot-4 Pack point guard, though, simply took over the rest of the game. He scored 11 Pack points in a row on two lay-ups, five free throws and a jumper as the Wolf Pack cut Hawaii’s lead to 52-41 with 10:45 to go.
A few of his teammates then got into the act to slice Hawaii’s lead even further. Tyron Criswell had a layup to pull the Pack within 52-43 with 10:22 to go and Fenner hit a 3-pointer and converted two free throws and Oliver had two free throws as the Pack trailed just 58-52 with 7:46 to go, capping a 28-6 Pack run over the previous nine minutes.
Coleman then took over again, scoring 10 straight Pack points on six free throws and a pair of layups, cutting Hawaii’s lead to just 63-62 with 4:47 left. Fenner then gave the Pack its first lead (64-63 with 3:55 to go) since midway through the first quarter. Coleman then converted a 4-point play on a 3-pointer and a free throw) as the Pack stretched its lead to 68-65 with 2:36 to go. Oliver’s dunk gave the Pack the lead again at 70-69 with 1:20 left and Coleman had a jumper for a 72-71 lead with 54 seconds left and a free throw for a 73-71 lead with 31 seconds to go. His lay-up with eight seconds to play gave the Pack a 75-74 lead.
Hawaii, though, won the game on lay-up by Roderick Bobbitt with three seconds to play.
The Rainbow Warriors also played a huge part in the Pack’s comeback in the second half. Hawaii missed 10-of-19 free throws in the second half, allowing the Pack to stay in the game. Bobbitt missed three crucial free throws in the final seven minutes, with Hawaii leading 60-54 with 6:58 to go, with Hawaii leading 63-57 with 5:57 left and with the Pack leading 64-63 with 3:41 left. The Rainbow Warriors were just 14-of-27 from the line for the game while the Wolf Pack was 23-of-26.
One of the Pack’s misses from the line, however, came from Coleman with 31 seconds to go.
Coleman spent the majority of the first half on the bench as Hawaii took a 40-28 lead at halftime. The Rainbow Warriors got a gift two points right at the end of the half on a lay-up by Isaac Fleming. Fleming’s first lay-up was blocked by the Pack’s A.J. West with two seconds to play and the ball was rebounded by Criswell. Fleming, though, stole the ball and went back up for a layup at the buzzer for a 40-28 Hawaii lead at the break.
The Wolf Pack went on a 6-0 run early in the first half for a 13-12 lead. Eric Cooper and Fenner had jumpers and Criswell had a lay-up during the run. A Criswell lay-up also gave the Pack a 15-14 lead with 11:04 to play in the half. Hawaii, however, went on an 11-0 run (Fleming and Sai Tummalo each had 3-pointers) to take a 25-15 lead with nine minutes to go.
Coleman is now averaging 22.7 points a game this year despite playing an average of just 23 minutes a game. Over his last two games he has scored 54 points in 49 minutes. The most points he had ever scored in two consecutive games before this season was 33 (nine against Utah State on Feb. 10, 2015 and 24 against New Mexico four days later).
The rest of the Pack team, however, combined for just 41 points against Hawaii on 16-of-45 shooting. Fenner finished with 16 points, seven rebounds and two steals despite missing 11-of-16 shots. Oliver had eight points, 13 rebounds and two blocks in 34 minutes and Criswell had 10 points, three boards, two assists, a block and a steal in 38 minutes. Cooper scored just two points in 33 minutes on 1-of-7 shooting.
Hawaii got balanced scoring — 18 from Aaron Valdez, 10 each by Bobbitt, Quincy Smith, Tummalo, nine from Stefan Jankovic and Fleming and eight from Mike Thomas.
The Wolf Pack will play at Pacific Saturday.
WOLF PACK 30-POINT GAMES SINCE 1999-2000
37: Nick Fazekas vs. Hawaii, Jan. 5, 2006
36: Nick Fazekas vs. New Mexico State, Feb. 4, 2006
35: Nick Fazekas vs. Kansas, Dec. 1, 2005
35: Marcelus Kemp vs. Utah State, Feb. 11, 2008
35: Malik Story vs. Yale, Dec. 28, 2012
34: Marqueze Coleman vs. Hawaii, Nov. 17, 2015
34: Marcelus Kemp vs. Montana, March 16, 2006
34: Malik Story vs. Fresno State, March 9, 2011
33: Nick Fazekas vs. Tulsa, Jan. 20, 2005
33: Marcelus Kemp vs. San Jose State, Jan. 11, 2007
33: Nick Fazekas vs. Fresno State, Feb. 8, 2007
33: Luke Babbitt vs. New Mexico State, March 12, 2010
33: Malik Story vs. San Diego State, Feb. 23, 2013
33: Armon Johnson vs. California, Dec. 20, 2008
33: Kirk Snyder vs. SMU, Jan. 10, 2004
33: Terrance Green vs. UTEP, Feb. 16, 2002
33: Terrance Green vs. New Mexico State, Feb. 3, 2000
32: Nick Fazekas vs. UTEP, Feb. 14, 2004
32: Marcelus Kemp vs. Idaho, Feb. 16, 2008
32: Marcelus Kemp vs. New Mexico State, March 3, 2007
32: Deonte Burton vs. Fresno State, Jan. 22, 2014
32: Brandon Fields vs. New Mexico State, March 4, 2010
32: Terrance Green vs. Cal Poly, Jan. 20, 2000
31: Cole Huff vs. Fresno State, Jan. 22, 2014
31: Terrance Green vs. San Francisco, Nov. 18, 2000
31: Terrance Green vs. Louisiana Tech, Feb. 15, 2003
31: Deonte Burton vs. San Francisco, Nov. 15, 2013
31: Malik Story vs. Colorado State, Feb. 6, 2013
31: Deonte Burton vs. Washington, Dec. 2, 2011
31: Nick Fazekas vs. Vermont, Feb. 19, 2005
30: Armon Johnson vs. BYU, Dec. 22, 2009
30: Luke Babbitt vs. San Jose state, March 12, 2009
30: Nick Fazekas vs. Fresno State, March 4, 2006
30: Gary Hill-Thomas vs. Portland State, Dec. 15, 2001
30: Terrance Green vs. UC Irvine, Jan. 13, 2000