Hawaii men’s basketball: Rainbow Warriors roll Maine in Eran Ganot’s return

Hawaii head coach Eran Ganot met with fans after his team defeated Maine 91-51 on Sunday. / Photo by Cindy Ellen Russell, Star-Advertiser

It was high drama in the Stan Sheriff Center in Eran Ganot’s return to the sidelines.

Would Hawaii — which turned Sunday night’s contest against Maine into a blowout early in the second half — achieve one of the most lopsided victories in program history?

In fact, they would, as the 40-point margin of the 91-51 win tied for seventh all-time in the record books. It was the most emphatic win over a Division I program since an 85-41 win over Oregon State on Nov. 19, 2006.

So no, there was no true drama in Ganot’s return from a 51-day absence for medical leave that began just before the start of the 2019-20 season.

UH (9-5) got to feel good about itself in pretty much every aspect of the game — all 11 players to see action scored, and all but one scored a basket — as it shook off two losses in the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic and got to look ahead to Big West Conference play starting Jan. 9.

Sunday night represented a return to form for Eddie Stansberry, who shook off three straight single-digit-scoring games to post 21 on 7-for-12 shooting, his eighth 20-point game of the season. He opened the day 3-for-3 from 3 after going 2-for-28 for the entirety of the DHC.

“The feeling’s a lot better than seeing you miss the first one,” Stansberry said. “As a shooter, and just a player in general, seeing your first one go in was always a good feeling for me. I was excited to see it go in, but it was pretty well set up. Right enough time to get a shot off and get a good look. It went in, I was happy, but it was kind of just moving on to the next play at that point.”

Samuta Avea notched a career high in scoring (17) for the second time in four games, including an emphatic tomahawk slam in the first half, and Bernardo da Silva was active in making his first career start, with 11 points and six rebounds.

Maine (3-10) will not confuse anyone for a good team. In fact, the Black Bears entered the contest rated 344 out of 353 Division I teams according to the KenPom rating. But there’s no doubt UH feels worlds better about itself coming off this game going into BWC play as opposed to letting the disappointing loss to Georgia Tech linger.

“It’s just a feeling,” Ganot said. “There’s times you’ll maybe get the result you want but maybe you didn’t play right. But I thought we got the result because we played right. That helps long term. … You want to sit on a good win and a good team performance going into that. These guys battled their tails off and deserve a couple days to recharge the batteries.”

If you’re wondering, here are the most lopsided wins in UH history:
67 — BYU-Hawaii, 1962-63 (110-43)
57 — Redlands, Jan. 28, 1972 (106-49)
51 — Hawaii Hilo, Nov. 21, 2013 (114-63)
46 — Lewis & Clark, Jan. 23, 1971 (121-75)
44 — Oregon State, Nov. 19, 2006 (85-41)
42 — Linfield, Nov. 11, 1971 (115-73)
40 — Tennessee Tech, Dec. 9, 1988 (98-58)
40 — Maine, Dec. 29, 2019 (91-51)
39 — Westmont, Dec. 8, 1973 (97-58)