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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, February 14, 2006

'Bows still hope to 'finish out strong'

By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer

Fresno State’s Kevin Bell, left, makes a leaping pass after stealing the ball from Hawai‘i’s Julian Sensley in the final seconds of the first half.

KURT HEGRE | Associated Press

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FRESNO, Calif. — Given the circumstances at this time last week, the University of Hawai'i men's basketball team will take its latest road results.

The Rainbow Warriors dropped to 1-7 on the road this season after a 73-67 loss to Fresno State last night at the Save Mart Center. The one victory came Saturday at Boise State.

"I have to be satisfied (with the trip), but I'm not," Hawai'i head coach Riley Wallace said. "I thought this was a very win-able ball game."

But in this wacky season, Hawai'i still has a realistic shot at second place in the Western Athletic Conference, and an outside shot at first place. The 'Bows are 13-9 overall and in fourth place in the conference at 7-5.

Nevada took sole possession of first place last night at 9-3 after a 50-49 victory over Louisiana Tech.

Louisiana Tech (8-4) and Utah State (7-4) are the only other teams ahead of Hawai'i, and the 'Bows must still host Louisiana Tech on March 4. Nevada still has to play at Utah State on Feb. 25.

"We're going to finish out strong," Hawai'i co-captain Deonte Tatum said. "We still have five games left. We need to get a good run going down the stretch going to the WAC Tournament."

Junior guard Matt Lojeski added: "We're not going to bury ourselves. It's not like we came here and got blown out. We're disappointed. We definitely feel like we could have won this game, so we just have to win the rest of our games now."

Despite yesterday's loss, Wallace said he liked the way the 'Bows were "sticking together" on this road trip.

In the victory at Boise State, Hawai'i erased a 13-point first-half deficit. Last night, the 'Bows cut a 14-point deficit in the second half down to four.

"This team stays focused now," Wallace said. "They don't panic. They just pick at it, run the offense and stay in the game."

The 'Bows started this road trip last Wednesday. They spent one sleepless night in Seattle (because of a canceled flight), two nights in Boise and then three nights in Fresno. They are scheduled to return to Honolulu this afternoon.

"We don't want to make excuses, but this time of year, you do get tired," Wallace said.

He pointed to Hawai'i's free throws and 3-point shots last night as an example. The 'Bows went 14 of 22 from the free-throw line (63.6 percent) and 1 of 12 from the 3-point line (8.3 percent).

"Sometimes that's the fatigue factor," Wallace said. "When your shooting goes down like that, sometimes it's the legs."

  • Building blocks: Hawai'i was credited with five blocked shots last night — all by Ahmet Gueye — to establish a school record for blocked shots in a season.

    The 'Bows have 129 this season, which is one better than the previous mark set by the 1993-94 team.

    Gueye's 55 blocks this season rank No. 6 for an individual player in a season. Tony Maroney holds the individual single-season record with 103 in the 1993-94 season.

  • No steak for you: In perhaps a bad sign of things to come, the 'Bows were denied dinner service at two restaurants Sunday night.

    Wallace promised the players they could have steak dinners if they beat Boise State on Saturday — which they did — and he planned to follow through after the team's practice on Sunday in Fresno.

    But Stuart Anderson's and Tony Roma's restaurants both turned the 'Bows away because the party was apparently too large for them to handle at 8 p.m.

    The team wound up eating at Marie Callender's, which offers diner-style meals.

  • Non-conference game next: Hawai'i's next game is against Santa Clara on Saturday at the Stan Sheriff Center. The game was not selected for national broadcast as part of ESPN's Bracket Buster.

    Reach Dayton Morinaga at dmorinaga@honoluluadvertiser.com.