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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, November 12, 2001

UH men's basketball storms back for 85-81 win

By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer

Picking up on last season's theme, the Hawai'i men's basketball team saved its best for the end last night.

Hawai'i's Carl English, left, wraps a pass around EA Sports' Damion Walker during the Rainbows' exhibition game.

Gregory Yamamoto • The Honolulu Advertiser

The Rainbow Warriors rallied from a 14-point second half deficit in a 85-81 exhibition victory over the EA Sports West All-Stars. A crowd of 2,607 at the Stan Sheriff Center watched the contest, which will not count in UH's season record.

"It tested the heart of this team," Hawai'i head coach Riley Wallace said. "We're not a team that's going to come out and blow people out. It's a team that has to go out and work, and we definitely had to do that."

Six Rainbows scored in double figures, led by senior Predrag Savovic's 20 points on 9-of-17 shooting.

"That was the good thing about this game, everybody contributed," Savovic said. "The bad thing is we showed we have lots to work on."

With the score tied, 79-79, and less than three minutes remaining, Hawai'i scored the next six points to seize control. Senior guard Mike McIntyre scored five points in the final two minutes, including a crucial layup that put Hawai'i ahead, 82-79, with 52 seconds left.

The shot came after a missed free throw by teammate Mark Campbell. Campbell grabbed the rebound himself, then passed to center Haim Shimonovich, who then found McIntyre alone under the basket.

"I liked the comeback," said McIntyre, who finished with 12 points. "That was big-time. It took a lot of courage for us to win it after we were down 14."

It also took a lot of mistakes for UH to fall behind by 14.

Predrag Savovic led Hawai'i with 20 points.

Advertiser library photo

After scoring the first seven points of the game, the 'Bows controlled most of the first half. Campbell, a junior transfer from Clackamas (Ore.) Community College, hit a driving layup with five seconds remaining, then stole the ensuing inbounds pass and hit a short jump shot at the buzzer to give UH a 47-38 advantage at intermission.

"I just tried to bring a lot of energy out there," said Campbell, who finished with 11 points. "At times, we looked great, at others, we looked really bad."

The 'Bows were particularly bad early in the second half.

Against an experimental zone defense by Hawai'i, four different EA Sports players combined to hit five 3-pointers during a five-minute stretch that turned the halftime deficit into a 57-53 lead.

"I made the commitment to work on zone (defense)," Wallace said. "In a (regular) game, I would not have stayed in it that long."

EA Sports increased the lead to 71-57 before the 'Bows started their own rally.

"They were pulling shots out of who knows where," McIntyre said. "They were shooting from NBA range. We knew they couldn't do that all night."

EA Sports, which was playing in its ninth game in as many days in nine different cities, finally wilted in the final eight minutes.

Campbell scored five points during an 11-0 UH surge that tied the game at 77-77. In the game's final eight minutes, Hawai'i outscored EA Sports, 19-4.

Shimonovich and Carl English finished with identically impressive statistics: 14 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Mindaugas Burneika added 10 points and five rebounds.

Former Cal State-Northridge players Jason Crowe and Andre Larry led EA Sports with 23 and 22 points, respectively. Former UH forward Erin Galloway, who joined the team yesterday, contributed four points and four rebounds.

Three Hawai'i players were not in uniform: Phil Martin (sprained ankle), Tony Akpan (bruised thigh) and Luc-Arthur Vebobe (under NCAA investigation).

UH, which has eight players back from last season's team that made a memorable late-season run to the NCAA Tournament, will open its regular season on Friday against Norfolk State.