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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Sunday, February 13, 2005

'Bows fall on road again

 •  Game statistics

By Calvin Watkins
Special to The Advertiser

DALLAS — The University of Hawai'i men's basketball team suffered its worst loss of the season last night — by six points.

Hawai'i's Bobby Nash unloads a pass while being defended by SMU's Paulius Ritter in the first half.

Photos by David Pellerin • Associated Press

Southern Methodist became the latest team to edge the Rainbow Warriors, 71-65, in a Western Athletic Conference game in front of 3,254 fans at Moody Coliseum.

Hawai'i (13-7 overall, 5-7 WAC) fell from sole possession of sixth place in the conference to seventh. SMU (11-10, 6-7) swapped positions with the 'Bows in the standings.

If the WAC Tournament started today, Hawai'i would participate in the play-in game.

Hawai'i's seven losses this season are by a combined 18 points, and the 'Bows are 1-6 on the road in the WAC. The good news is Hawai'i has just two more road games, against Tulsa and Rice later this month.

"We've got five of the last seven (games) at home," Hawai'i head coach Riley Wallace said. "And we've proven we can play with everybody. We'll be back."

SMU played without starting shooting guard Derrick Roberts (knee injury), and leading scorer and point guard Bryan Hopkins played with a sprained right (shooting) wrist.

Hopkins, a 6-foot junior, still scored a game-high 27 points on 6-of-12 shooting from the field, and 13 of 17 from the free-throw line.

SMU head coach Jimmy Tubbs said it was Hopkins' best offensive game of the season.

Hawai'i guard Kris Groce drives to the basket against SMU's Jon Killen. The 'Bows lost, 71-65, to fall to 1-6 on the road in the WAC.
"Without him, we won by 12," Hawai'i guard "Little Matt" Gibson said, referring to UH's 71-59 victory over SMU in Honolulu. "With him, they win and he scores 27. I thought we played good (defense) on him. A guy like that is hard to stop. You just hope to contain him."

Wallace was also impressed with Hopkins, who missed the first meeting between the teams with the wrist injury Jan. 13.

"He comes back with one of his best nights of the year," Wallace said. "He kept getting open on us, and he hit free throws."

Hopkins hit one of the biggest shots of the game with 3:30 remaining and Hawai'i trailing, 56-49. Hopkins appeared to be looking to pass the ball, but with the 35-second shot clock about to expire, he threw a shot from well beyond 3-point range into the basket, giving the Mustangs an insurmountable 10-point lead.

"I couldn't arch it," Hopkins said. "I was trying to get it on the rim. I wasn't planning on making it."

The Mustangs later pushed their lead to 12 with three minutes left. Hawai'i never got closer than six after that.

SMU made 10 of 15 free throws in the final 90 seconds to secure the win.

"We played our hearts out and just ran out of gas," Hawai'i guard Jake Sottos said. "Even the seniors said they were gassing. We fought hard, but they had an answer for everything."

Sottos was once again Hawai'i's main threat on offense, finishing with a team-high 17 points, including 5-of-11 shooting from 3-point range.

Julian Sensley added 14 points and five rebounds, and Gibson and Bobby Nash had 10 points each.

The 'Bows struggled from the field and on the boards in the loss. They made 9 of 25 shots from the field in the first half, and trailed at halftime, 32-27.

Hawai'i improved in the second half, but still shot just 41.8 percent from the field for the game.

Perhaps more hurtful, Hawai'i got out-rebounded, 43-23. It was Hawai'i's season-low total in rebounds.

Devon Pearson (11) and Patrick Simpson (10) reached double-digits in rebounds for SMU.

"They got us on the boards," Gibson said. "We didn't box out well and we just didn't go to the glass. They out-played us."

Hawai'i starters Jeff Blackett and Chris Botez combined for just seven points and six rebounds, but both sustained slightly sprained ankles.

"We were a little bit tired," Wallace said. "We were out-rebounded by 20. When that happens, you're usually going to get beat. We're usually a pretty good rebounding team. We just showed signs of fatigue."

Yesterday's loss concluded a three-game, 11-day road trip for the 'Bows, who won one of the three games.

They are scheduled to return to Honolulu today, and will begin a three-game homestand by hosting Boise State Wednesday.

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