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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, March 10, 2006

Botez brought spark off UH bench

 •  'Bows fall to Aggies in WAC tournament

By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer

RENO, Nev. The University of Hawai'i men's basketball team was without its starting center in a 58-57 loss to New Mexico State last night, but its reserve center did his part to keep the Rainbow Warriors close.

Chris Botez filled in for injured starter Ahmet Gueye and played one of his best games of the season. The 7-foot senior finished with a season-high 13 points on 6-of-10 shooting, six rebounds, and three steals.

"I just had to come in strong like I usually do," he said. "I had that added energy to come off the bench and help the team boost up when we were down in the first half."

Botez has been Hawai'i's first player off the bench all season, and head coach Riley Wallace wanted to keep it that way last night.

In a somewhat surprising move, freshman guard Dominic Waters started the game alongside regular starters Deonte Tatum, Matt Lojeski, Julian Sensley and Matthew Gipson.

"(Botez) has done a good job of accepting his role this year," Wallace said. "He really helped the ball club coming in off the bench, and we wanted to keep it that way."

The 'Bows fell behind early in the game, but Botez helped spark a second-half surge. He started the second half, and scored 11 of his points after intermission on 5-of-7 shooting.

In three games against New Mexico State this season, Botez averaged 9.0 points and 5.0 rebounds per game, and shot 13 of 19 from the field (68.4 percent).

"He's 7 feet; he's just big," New Mexico State head coach Reggie Theus said. "Fortunately for us, he's not a great offensive player, so if you play behind him and make him take shots over the top, you have an opportunity (to rebound)."

'BOWS HOME ON SUNDAY

Hawai'i is scheduled to return to Honolulu on Sunday, although Wallace was trying last night to arrange a flight for today or tomorrow.

The NCAA Tournament and NIT fields will be announced on Sunday afternoon. At 17-11, Hawai'i is considered a "bubble" team for the NIT.

New Mexico State head coach Reggie Theus said he thinks his team secured an NIT bid with the victory last night.

FORMER 'BOW SCOUTING

Former Moloka'i High and Hawai'i standout Jarinn Akana was in attendance last night, scouting players for the Denver Nuggets. He said one of the players on his list was Hawai'i senior forward Julian Sensley.

Akana, who played for the 'Bows under Wallace from 1992-94, is now an assistant coach with the Nuggets.

BANQUET INFORMATION

The UH Basketball Awards Banquet is scheduled for April 20 at the Hawai'i Prince Hotel.

Cost is $45 per person ($30 for children under 12) or $450 per table. No-host cocktails start at 6 p.m., with dinner and program to follow around 7 p.m.

For ticket information, call the UH basketball office at 956-6501.

IDAHO FIRES COACH

Idaho fired coach Leonard Perry just hours after the Vandals lost to No. 21 Nevada 68-55 in the opening round of the WAC tournament to close the season with a record of 4-25.

Perry was 48-97 in five years as Idaho's head coach.

Reach Dayton Morinaga at dmorinaga@honoluluadvertiser.com.