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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, January 23, 2005

'Bows' road woes continue at Boise

By Nick Jezierny
Special to The Advertiser

BOISE, Idaho — The University of Hawai'i men's basketball team has had some difficult breaks in Western Athletic Conference play this season, but yesterday's 80-76 loss at Boise State was more about the Rainbow Warriors' inability to play a complete game.

Hawai'i guard Jake Sottos, left, goes up for a rebound against Boise State's Coby Karl in the second half.

Matt Cilley • Associated Press

Hawai'i (10-5 overall, 2-5 WAC) dug itself a 47-31 hole in the first half, then saw its comeback bid run out of time in front of 4,303 fans at Taco Bell Arena.

"It's unfortunate we can't play two halves of basketball," Hawai'i forward Julian Sensley said.

Head coach Riley Wallace wholeheartedly agreed.

"We're just not good enough right now to (win on the road)," Wallace said. "We've got to learn to play. You go on the road, you have to play 40 minutes of tough, hard-nosed basketball. And we're not doing that — we're playing a half."

Hawai'i has lost all four of its WAC road games so far this season.

Yesterday's game was a tale of two halves, and the first half belonged to the Broncos (9-9, 3-4). BSU made 57 percent of its shots in the first 20 minutes and sent Hawai'i reeling with an inside-outside attack that the 'Bows couldn't defend.

"They were just moving the ball," Sensley said. "They move the ball real well as a team."

Tez Banks scored all 13 of his points in the first half, while Eric Lane had 13 of his 16 in the initial 20 minutes for the Broncos.

"We played great in the first half," BSU head coach Greg Graham said.

The Broncos, whose tallest player is 6-8, out-rebounded the bigger 'Bows 23-10 in the first half and 42-36 for the game.

The second half, on the other hand, was Hawai'i's time to shine. It started on the defensive end, where Wallace juggled his rotation to shut down what had been a red-hot Boise State offense. The Broncos made only 8 of 30 shots in the second half after Wallace moved Sensley from small forward to power forward and put in Bobby Nash at small forward to form a smaller, quicker lineup.

Boise State guard Coby Karl drives past Hawai'i guard Jake Sottos during the first half. Boise State held off a late Hawai'i rally, 80-76.

Matt Cilley • Associated Press

"Where we were lazy in the first half, in the second half we were fighting them a little bit before they got (in the paint)," Wallace said. "We were switching to try and keep them from getting there."

While the Broncos' offense slowed, Hawai'i started making shots and slowly whittled a 51-31 deficit into single digits.

"We knew they'd come back in the second half," Graham said. "They've played everyone close, and I knew they'd make a rally."

Sensley, who was held scoreless in the first half in just seven minutes of action, had all 14 of his points in the second half. Vaidotas Peciukas came off the bench to score all 11 of his points after intermission for Hawai'i.

Peciukas, who scored a career-high 14 last season at Boise State, nearly got the Broncos again. He made 4 of 6 shots in 18 minutes.

"The guy that kills us every year is Peciukas," Graham said. "They almost caught us this year with him again."

Peciukas said, "I'm always ready whenever coach puts me in."

Sensley said the main difference between the two halves was the effort he and his teammates gave in the second half.

"We were down 16, so we had to come out aggressive (in the second half)," he said. "When you've got nothing to lose, you play harder."

Hawai'i pulled to 53-47 with 12:30 to go after a Sensley 3-pointer, but the Broncos responded with a Jason Ellis basket and Lane's fourth 3-pointer of the game, forcing Wallace to call timeout with 11:50 left.

BSU built the lead to 12 on several occasions, but the 'Bows kept scrapping to get to 74-68 and later 78-73 before time ran out. BSU guard Coby Karl hit six free throws in the final 47 seconds to finish off Hawai'i.

"Our guys stood up and made plays," Graham said. "We had enough stops and did a good enough job to win."

Jeff Blackett had 13 points and a team-high nine rebounds for Hawai'i. Jake Sottos also scored 13 points, but he made only 2 of 10 shots from 3-point range after going 6 of 6 against UTEP on Thursday night. Blackett and Sottos were inserted into the starting lineup yesterday.

Hawai'i got zero field goals from the Matts. "Big Matt" Gipson didn't score at all in 10 minutes of action, while "Little Matt" Gibson had three points on 3-of-5 shooting from the line, and shot 0 of 5 from the floor.

Chris Botez, who is from Oregon and had around 20 family members in attendance, scored six points and had four rebounds.

Boise State's Jermaine Blackburn led all scorers with 19 points and pulled down a career-best 11 rebounds.

Hawai'i hopes to build on yesterday's strong second half as it prepares for two WAC games at home this week against Rice on Thursday and Tulsa on Saturday.

"It shows how good we can be," Wallace said. "The team you saw in the second half, playing out there tough and hard like that, it's the way we were when we were 8-0. We've got some guys who aren't feeling good about themselves right now. When their jump shot doesn't go, or the coach is on them a little bit, they get down. And they've got to learn to get out of that. Home does wonders for you."