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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 9:00 p.m., Thursday, December 28, 2006

Rainbow Warriors roll past Tennessee-Martin, 66-53

By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer

Riley Luettgerodt made his first start for the University of Hawai'i men's basketball team a memorable one.

Luettgerodt had career-highs of 17 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Rainbow Warriors to a comfortable 66-53 victory over Tennessee-Martin Thursday night.

A crowd of 4,127 at the Stan Sheriff Center watched the 'Bows improve to 9-4 with their fifth consecutive victory. The Skyhawks dropped to 3-11 with their fourth consecutive loss.

Luettgerodt, a 6-foot-5 junior, was inserted into the starting lineup because of an injury to senior center Ahmet Gueye.

Luettgerodt shot 7 of 11 from the field, and 3 of 4 from the free-throw line. His 13 rebounds was the most by a Hawai'i player this season, and led the 'Bows to a 45-36 advantage on the boards last night.

Bobby Nash, who moved from small forward to power forward because of Gueye's injury, added 14 points and nine rebounds despite being in foul trouble for most of the game.

Matt Lojeski added nine points and a team-high seven assists, and Matt Gibson had nine points and five rebounds.

The overmatched Skyhawks trailed from start to finish.

Hawai'i raced to an 8-2 lead to open the game, and never looked back. A 14-8 surge by the 'Bows increased the lead to 28-14 with 6:42 remaining in the first half.

The Skyhawks never got closer than 10 after that. Matt Gibson drained a 3-pointer just before the first half ended to give Hawai'i a 39-26 lead at intermission.

The 'Bows shot 51.4 percent from the field in the first half, and 14 of their 18 field goals came off assists.

Tennessee-Martin shot just 38.5 percent from the field in the first half, and 30 percent (3 of 10) from the free throw line.

The Skyhawks got as close as nine early in the second half, but Hawai'i went on an 11-0 run to push the lead up to 54-34 with 10:51 remaining. UTM cut it to 13 in the closing minutes, but that was as close as it would get.

Zerek Knight led the Skyhawks with 12 points.

The 'Bows played without Gueye, who was not in uniform because of his injured right knee.

Up next for Hawai'i is the opening of the Western Athletic Conference season. The 'Bows will play at New Mexico State on Jan. 4, and at Louisiana Tech on Jan. 6.

Reach Dayton Morinaga at dmorinaga@honoluluadvertiser.com or 535-8101.