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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 9:32 p.m., Thursday, March 9, 2006

Rainbow Warriors ousted from WAC tournament, 58-57

By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer

RENO, Nev. — The short-handed University of Hawai'i men's basketball team came up just short in the quarterfinals of the Western Athletic Conference Tournament.

New Mexico State defeated the Rainbow Warriors, 58-57, Thursday night at the Lawlor Events Center.

Hawai'i had a chance to win it in the closing seconds, but Julian Sensley's difficult shot from the baseline bounced off the rim, and Matthew Gipson's putback attempt also missed.

The 'Bows are 17-11 and must now wait to see if they get invited to the NIT, which will announce its field Sunday.

New Mexico State improved to 16-13, and will play host Nevada in Friday's semifinals.

Sensley led the 'Bows with 16 points. Chris Botez added 13, Deonte Tatum 12 and Matt Lojeski 10. Hawai'i played without starting center Ahmet Gueye, who injured his knee last week.

Tyrone Nelson led the Aggies with 16 points. Elijah Ingram, who did not play in a New Mexico State loss at Hawai'i last week, added 13.

Mike Mitchell scored seven points during a 12-2 run by New Mexico State that put the Aggies ahead 23-13. New Mexico State eventually took a 30-26 lead at intermission.

Sensley drained a 3-pointer just before the horn sounded to end the half, and the 'Bows took the momentum into the second half. Hawai'i opened the second half with a 13-2 run to overtake the Aggies at 39-32. Lojeski and Sensley combined to score 11 points during the surge.

The Aggies caught the 'Bows at 47 with 6:57 remaining, and it stayed close the rest of the way.

New Mexico State took its last lead at 58-56 on a three-point play by Shaun Davis with 2:07 remaining. Tatum fouled out on the play.

Hawai'i had a chance to tie with 53.6 seconds left, but Botez made one of two free throws.