UH freezes up on road
|||ESPN snubs UH in Bracket Buster|
By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Dayton Morinaga
LOGAN, Utah — A public alert was issued in this city last night because of hazardous road conditions.
It is something the University of Hawai'i men's basketball team knows all about.
The Rainbow Warriors remained winless on the road this season after a 63-52 loss to Utah State last night in a game televised nationally on ESPN2.
"I don't know what it is," senior co-captain Deonte Tatum said. "We just can't get over that hump. Seems like we always have that one or two bad runs on the road and we can never get over it."
A raucous crowd of around 9,540 at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum watched the Aggies avenge a 69-59 loss at Hawai'i in December.
Utah State improved to 15-4 overall and is in second place in the Western Athletic Conference at 6-2. Hawai'i dropped to 10-8 overall and into a tie for fifth place in the WAC at 4-4. In the most telling statistic, the Aggies improved to 10-0 at home, while Hawai'i dropped to 0-6 on the road.
For the second consecutive game, the 'Bows went cold in a cold-weather city.
Hawai'i almost matched the 32-degree temperature in Logan last night by shooting 38.2 percent from the field (21 of 55), including just 21.1 percent from 3-point range (4 of 19). The 52 points tied its season low.
Julian Sensley led Hawai'i with 14 points, but he shot 5 of 13 from the field. Tatum added 10 points and five assists, but he went 4 of 12 from the field.
"I think everybody is a little fatigued," Sensley said. "Not that it's an excuse, but our shots just aren't dropping right now."
The 'Bows cut a 20-point second-half deficit to seven, but otherwise it was all Utah State.
"I was pleased with the last half of the second half," Hawai'i head coach Riley Wallace said. "The first half was a carry over from Nevada."
The 'Bows also shot 38.2 percent from the field in a 73-55 loss at Nevada on Saturday.
Tatum scored the first basket of last night's game, but it would be the only time Hawai'i held the lead. The Aggies opened the game with an 18-7 lead and eventually built it to 36-19 by intermission.
Hawai'i shot just 30.8 percent from the field (8 of 26) in the first half, and the 19 points was its lowest total for a first half this season.
"We couldn't get any offense generated," Wallace said. "They were into our stuff and we didn't execute well."
In particular, Wallace lamented Hawai'i's lack of inside scoring. Starting center Ahmet Gueye was held to five points, although he did grab eight rebounds. Starting power forward "Big Matt" Gipson contributed two points and five rebounds, and was limited to 12 minutes because of foul problems.
Utah State forward Nate Harris had game-highs of 19 points and 11 rebounds, including nine points and six rebounds in the crucial first half.
"It didn't feel like 19," Harris said. "It felt like (Hawai'i) blocked more shots than I made. But we made some adjustments."
Wallace was assessed a technical foul late in the first half after Gipson was called for his third foul of the half. Wallace said he made a choking gesture with his hands and the referee saw him.
Gueye drained a baseline shot at the end of the first half, but it was disallowed because the referees consulted for a few minutes and concluded that it came after time expired.
"I think a couple calls should have gone our way, but that's part of the game," Sensley said. "We can't rely on the refs to win games."
In any case, the 'Bows started the second half still in sluggish form. With 17:07 remaining in the second half, the Aggies built the lead to 43-23, prompting their student section to chant: "Up by 20! ... Up by 20!"
And the 'Bows finally responded. As Wallace put it: "I think pride took over. We really got after (Utah State) and we tightened up our defense."
Sensley and Tatum combined to score 13 points during a 15-2 run that cut Utah State's lead to 47-40 with 9:41 remaining.
"Didn't bring enough energy to start," Tatum said. "Second half, we brought it."
But Utah State sharpshooter Jaycee Carroll drained back-to-back 3-pointers to put the Aggies ahead, 53-40. Hawai'i never got it back to single-digits after that.
"We had them where we wanted when we cut it to seven," Tatum said. "So when (Carroll) hit those two big ones, that was huge."
Until then, Carroll had just five points. He finished with 13.
Chris Huber added 11 points off the bench for the Aggies, including 3-of-3 shooting from 3-point range. Utah State shot just 44 percent from the field for the game (22 of 50), but was 47.4 percent from 3-point range (9 of 19).
Utah State head coach Stew Morrill said: "I think we wore down a little bit in the second half. But obviously, the way Hawai'i traveled, they were worn down, too."
In perhaps a fitting ending, the game was delayed for a few minutes when the lights in the arena went out with 39.7 seconds left.
"If we had made a few more baskets in the first half, we would still have a chance to win," Tatum said.
Morrill said: "It was a battle. The score might not show it, but Hawai'i never went away. They made us work for this one."
Reach Dayton Morinaga at email@example.com.