Friday, February 9, 2001
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Posted on: Friday, February 9, 2001

Road woes continue for Rainbows

By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer

RENO, Nev. - With all bets against them, the University of Hawaii men’s basketball team busted on the road again.

The Rainbows remained winless away from Hawaii after a 73-60 loss to Nevada last night before a crowd of 5,674 at the Lawlor Events Center.

Hawaii, which defeated the Wolf Pack last Saturday at the Stan Sheriff Center, fell to 10-11 overall and 4-6 in the Western Athletic Conference. The Rainbows have lost all six of their road games this season, including five in the WAC.

"I hope it’s wearing on them," Hawaii coach Riley Wallace said of the road losing streak’s impact on his team. "I’m hoping they can reach down and stop it. Because once again, we were close and just didn’t have enough to get over that hump."

The Rainbows trailed for most of the game, but cut a 17-point second-half deficit to four before fading at the end. Nevada, which entered last night’s game in last place in the WAC, improved to 9-12 and 2-8.

"We know that we need a win on the road, period," said UH senior center Troy Ostler, who led all scorers with 30 points. "It doesn’t matter who we’re playing. As soon as we play a good first half and a good second half, we’ll get it."

Last night, the Rainbows were doomed after a subpar first half.

In particular, the Wolf Pack went on a 16-5 surge in the final six minutes of the first half to take a 42-28 lead at intermission. Hawaii has not won any of the nine games it has trailed at halftime this season.

"Defense killed us," Wallace said. "That and bad 3-point selection."

Nevada shot 60 percent (15-of-25) from the field in the first half, including 5-of-6 shooting from 3-point range. The Wolf Pack’s precise shooting even carried into halftime, when a Nevada fan made a shot from half-court to win a car.

By comparison, Hawaii also shot 60 percent in the first half, but made only one of its four 3-point shots. For the game, the Rainbows shot 58 percent (26-of-45), but only 15 percent (2-of-13) from 3-point range.

"We have guys who can shoot the 3, they just didn’t shoot them at the right times," Wallace said. "We were rushing a lot of them and weren’t taking them within the flow of the offense."

Although the Rainbows did not arrive in Reno until yesterday morning due to flight delays, Wallace refused to use fatigue as an excuse.

"Because if it was, you get tired in the second half, not the first," he explained. "And we played better in the second half. We just let them get too big of a lead."

The Rainbows limited the Wolf Pack to 39-percent shooting (11-of-28) in the second half, but could never make up the difference. After falling behind 47-30 early in the second half, the Rainbows went on a 17-4 run to cut the Nevada lead to 51-47 with 10:07 remaining.

However, the Wolf Pack responded with an 8-1 surge to regain control at 59-48. The Rainbows never got closer than nine in the final seven minutes.

"I thought we did a good job of weathering the storm," Nevada coach Trent Johnson said. "Our game in Hawaii was similar as far as effort. Only difference was we had guys make plays when we needed them."

Four Nevada players scored in double-figures: Joao Santos (17), Andre Hazel (13), Sean Paul (12), and Garry Hill-Thomas (11).

For the most part, Ostler was a one-man offense, making 14 of 17 shots. He also grabbed seven rebounds, although Hawaii was out-rebounded 30-22. No other Rainbow scored more than nine points or grabbed more than four rebounds.

"I felt really confident," said Ostler, who got 20 of his points in the second half. "I didn’t think anybody in the game could stop me."

Said Wallace: "If he can score like that, we’ll take it every time. We just couldn’t stop (Nevada) on the other side. You can’t trade baskets like that when you’re down by 10."

Predrag Savovic, Hawaii’s leading scorer, was limited to a season-low six points. He played just eight minutes in the second half, mostly because "he didn’t help us on offense, and anybody he was guarding scored," according to Wallace.

"Savo was a no-show," Wallace added. "He’s carried us all year, but he just had a bad night. That really hurt us because if he plays even half of what he usually does, we’re right in it."

The game was also somewhat historic for the Wolf Pack, as it marked the first time that the public could place a legal bet on the team. Prior to last night, games involving Nevada colleges - primarily Nevada and UNLV - were not listed in casinos.

At the Harrah’s Casino, Nevada was favored to win last night by four points. The Wolf Pack was originally favored by three, but in a matter of hours after the casino opened, so many bets were placed on Nevada that the line moved up one point.

"We’re a pretty strong team, mentally," Ostler said. "We know we can’t let it get to us. We know that if we stick together, we’ll get (a road win) sooner or later."

Their next chance will come Sunday, when they play at WAC leader Fresno State.

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