UH rolls over La. Tech, improves to 5-0 in WAC
By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer
The University of Hawai'i men's basketball team is more than just a passing fancy.
Gregory Yamamoto The Honolulu Advertiser
Hawai'i's Predrag Savovic pulls down a rebound in front of Louisiana Tech's Gerrod Henderson (3).
Gregory Yamamoto The Honolulu Advertiser
A crowd of 5,659 at the Stan Sheriff Center watched the 'Bows improve to 14-2 with their eighth consecutive victory. More important, Hawai'i remained atop the Western Athletic Conference at 5-0.
It is the best start in head coach Riley Wallace's 15 seasons at Hawai'i, and only the "Fabulous Five" team of 1971-72 that opened 15-1 had a better start in UH history. The last and only time Hawai'i started 5-0 in the WAC was during the 1981-82 season.
"We've got this thing rolling right now," said senior guard Mike McIntyre. "And every win seems to get more and more amazing."
The 'Bows certainly amazed the Bulldogs, who were playing their first-ever WAC road game. Louisiana Tech dropped to 8-5 overall and 2-2 in its first season in the WAC.
"They pass the ball as well as anybody I've ever seen do it," Louisiana Tech head coach Keith Richard said.
The result was five players scoring in double-figures for the 'Bows, led by McIntyre's career-high tying 22 off the bench.
Another reserve, Mindaugas Burneika, added 13. Among the starters, Predrag Savovic contributed 12, Carl English 11 and Mark Campbell 10.
"We executed our offense really well tonight," Wallace said. "We hit our jump shots, and then we got the backdoor cuts and layups out of that."
Surprisingly, the outcome was decided early.
Prior to last night's game, Wallace described the Bulldogs as the WAC's most talented team.
"I watched them on film, and they're a lot better than (last night)," Wallace said. "But maybe we're better than I think we are at times."
Both teams struggled early, shooting a combined 0-for-12 in the game's first five minutes.
"It was like we didn't give them enough respect," Wallace said. "But they were flat as well, so that helped."
After missing their first seven shots, the 'Bows went on a stunning 29-11 run to seize control. During the seven-minute surge, the 'Bows connected on 10-of-12 shots, including 5-of-6 from 3-point range. By the end of the blitz, Hawai'i held a 30-14 lead that would not be challenged the rest of the game.
The 'Bows increased the lead to 38-19 before taking a 42-28 advantage into halftime.
McIntyre and Burneika, senior tri-captains, both came off the bench to spark the surge. McIntyre had 12 points at halftime, all on 3-point shots. Burneika had nine points on 4-of-5 shooting from the field.
"A shooter's mentality is that you're not going to make 'em all, but you have to keep shooting," McIntyre said. "I'm a shooter, so if I get an open shot, I'm going to take it."
He finished 4-of-7 from 3-point range. The 'Bows finished with eight 3-pointers, including seven in the decisive first half.
Burneika, in an admitted shooting slump prior to last night, added: "I was just getting tired of missing shots. It was time for mine to start falling."
Savovic scored UH's first seven points of the second half to increase the lead to 49-33. The Bulldogs never got any closer the rest of the way.
"We could never guard them because they move the ball so well," Richard said. "It negates quickness is what it does. That was the real story of the game."
As proof, the 'Bows finished with 21 assists out of its 27 field goals. Campbell, UH's junior point guard, had five assists, five rebounds and four steals. English also contributed five assists.
"Hawai'i was outstanding all night moving the ball to all five spots on the floor," Richard said. "It makes it tough to defend, especially when two kids off the bench are making shots along with their other good players."
Hawai'i wound up shooting 49 percent (27-of-55) for the game, while holding the Bulldogs to 30 percent (25-of-63). Louisiana Tech was 4-of-17 from 3-point range, including 1-of-8 in the second half.
Gerrod Henderson led the Bulldogs with 16 points, while Lavelle Felton added 12. Antonio Meeking grabbed a game-high eight rebounds as the Bulldogs out-rebounded Hawai'i 36-32.
Freshman forward Tony Akpan made his collegiate debut for Hawai'i last night. He did not score but finished with one rebound and one blocked shot in nine minutes.
He sat out the first 15 games of this season as a NCAA penalty for benefits he received prior to attending UH.
Tomorrow, the 'Bows will play host to Southern Methodist in an early season battle for first place in the WAC. SMU defeated San Jose State, 68-66, last night to improve to 4-0 in the conference.
"Their guards are terrific," Wallace said. "We've got our work cut out for us. Let's just hope we can get a sellout to help us out (tomorrow)."
Tulsa 66, UTEP 61: Greg Harrington scored 18 points to lead the Golden Hurricane (11-3, 2-1) over the Miners (6-10, 2-1) at Tulsa, Okla. Marquis Ledoux came off the bench to score 11 points for Tulsa.
Boise State 62, Rice 59: Abe Jackson scored 22 points and Bryan Defares added 18 to lead the Broncos (8-7, 2-3) over the Owls (5-8, 0-3) in Houston.
SMU 68, SAN JOSE STATE 66: Damon Hancock scored a game high 24 points, 16 in the second half, as the visiting Mustangs (9-5, 4-0) edged the Spartans (5-12, 0-5) to get off to their best conference start in school history.