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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, February 23, 2006

Tatum had the big hand helping Rainbows rally

By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer

MOSCOW, Idaho Deonte Tatum found a reliable option for the University of Hawai'i men's basketball team yesterday.

Himself.

Tatum tied his career-high with 17 points in a 70-66 road victory over Idaho yesterday at Memorial Gym. The 6-foot-3 senior point guard had one of his best games of the season, shooting 7 of 10 from the field and passing for five assists.

"I take it upon myself sometimes to make a few baskets," he said. "That's just how it had to be. Somebody had to do it."

The Rainbow Warriors trailed by as many as 14 points in the first half against the lowly Vandals, but Tatum kept Hawai'i in it with nine points before intermission.

He added eight points early in the second half, and then started distributing the ball to his teammates once they found their shooting rhythm.

"Deonte I thought played another really good game, orchestrating for us," Hawai'i head coach Riley Wallace said. "He's really been doing it for us lately, and he gave me 40 minutes."

Tatum did not take a break the entire game, and his hustle in the second half was a key to the Hawai'i rally.

After Julian Sensley made a jump shot to cut Idaho's lead to 49-46, Tatum swooped in to steal the Vandals' ensuing inbounds pass. He made a layup, got fouled, and then hit the subsequent free throw to tie the game.

It sparked a 12-0 run that put the 'Bows in control for the rest of the game.

"Second half of this season, he's stepped up big," Sensley said of Tatum. "He's starting to come into his own, playing how he's supposed to be playing."

Yesterday was Tatum's fifth consecutive game with double-figure points. Over those five games, he is averaging 12.6 points and 4.4 assists per game.

He said the motivation is coming from the realization that his collegiate basketball career is in its stretch run.

"We're still looking at getting to the NCAA (Tournament), so we're still fighting for our lives," he said. "We can't afford to let any get away."

  • Memorable game in Memorial: The 'Bows said they did not have any problems playing yesterday's game in Memorial Gym, an antiquated facility with wooden bleachers, dim lighting and a seating capacity of 1,500.

    "It's still basketball," Tatum said. "You step out there, you're on the court. Once the clock starts running, you have to perform."

    It was Idaho's first game in Memorial Gym this season. The Cowan Spectrum, the Vandals' normal home arena, is being used for a jazz festival this week.

  • On to San Jose: The 'Bows are scheduled to leave Moscow today for San Jose, Calif. Hawai'i's next WAC game is at San Jose State Saturday.

  • Idaho coach won't quit: The Vandals have now lost five consecutive games, and 15 of their last 16.

    This week, the local media started speculating about Idaho head coach Leonard Perry's future with the program. Perry, a former Idaho player, is 48-93 in his fifth season as head coach of the Vandals.

    Yesterday was Idaho's last home game of the season, and Perry addressed the crowd afterward, saying he was not going to quit.

    Reach Dayton Morinaga at dmorinaga@honoluluadvertiser.com.