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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, November 24, 2006

Owsley in element at Great Alaska Shootout

 •  Hawai'i holds off Hofstra

By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer

ANCHORAGE, Alaska If there was one player on the University of Hawai'i men's basketball team who could warm up in freezing temperatures, it would be P.J. Owsley.

The 6-foot-8 junior forward had his best game of the season in Hawai'i's 80-79 victory over Hofstra last night in the Carrs/Safeway Great Alaska Shootout.

Owsley scored 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting, and grabbed six rebounds in 22 minutes of reserve action last night.

"Coach has been trusting me more in practice, so I thought I might play a little more today," Owsley said. "I was ready."

His most significant basket came with 1:22 remaining on what would turn out to be the go-ahead basket for the Rainbow Warriors.

With the score tied at 71 and the 35-second shot clock about to expire on the 'Bows, Owsley made a cut under the basket. Teammate Matt Lojeski fired a pass that Owsley turned into a layup and a 73-71 lead.

"I was just being patient, running the offense," Owsley said. "My (defender) left me alone for a second and (Lojeski) saw me and got it right to me. Great pass."

On Hawai'i's next possession, Owsley did the passing. From the top of the key, he found forward Riley Luettgerodt under the basket for another layup that gave the 'Bows a 75-71 lead with 50.3 seconds remaining.

Owsley's effort was part of a strong showing by Hawai'i's "big men." Starters Ahmet Gueye, Stephen Verwers combined with reserves Owsley and Todd Follmer for 31 points and 14 rebounds.

"We all know how hard P.J. works in practice," Gueye said. "He earned this today, but we all knew he can do this and even more."

Owsley was raised in Bozeman, Mont., so the single-digit temperatures in Anchorage this week are not unique to him.

"There's actually more snow than this in Bozeman," he said. "But I'm spoiled by Hawai'i already. Now that I've been in the cold for a couple of days, I'm sick of it."

But not sick enough to stick around for two more days. The 'Bows will play California in a semifinal game tonight at 7 (Hawai'i time). The game will be televised nationally on ESPN2.

MEMORIES OF '93 ERASED

In Hawai'i's previous trip to the Great Alaska Shootout, the 'Bows went 0-3, and never reached 50 points in any of the games.

"We scored 49, 47 and 48, trust me, I remember," Hawai'i head coach Riley Wallace said.

The 'Bows hit 50 points early in the second half of last night's game.

"(Associate coach) Bob Nash leaned over when we got to 51 and said we just made 50," Wallace said.

However, Wallace was also quick to note that the 1993-94 Hawai'i team went on to reach the NCAA Tournament.

CHEERING FOR HAWAI'I

Every team in the Great Alaska Shootout is "adopted" by a high school in the Anchorage area.

Hawai'i's high school team is Dimond High. The 'Bows have been practicing there this week, and the Dimond cheerleaders were at courtside last night, cheering for Hawai'i.

Reach Dayton Morinaga at dmorinaga@honoluluadvertiser.com.