St. John's frustrates UH
|Photo gallery: UH vs. Saint John's men's basketball|
By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Dayton Morinaga
Even while playing a rare lunch-time game, the University of Hawai'i men's basketball team couldn't catch a break yesterday.
The Rainbow Warriors once again experienced a frustrating finish, this one in the form of a 68-62 loss to St. John's in a consolation game of the 44th annual Outrigger Hotels Rainbow Classic.
An afternoon crowd of 1,241 at the Stan Sheriff Center watched the 'Bows drop to 3-6, including 0-2 in the Classic.
Hawai'i will play Georgia in the seventh-place game today at 11 a.m. St. John's, which improved to 5-3, will play Tulane for the consolation championship.
"We don't want to be the only team that didn't get a win (in the tournament)," Hawai'i senior tri-captain Riley Luettgerodt said. "So that's motivation. We just need to get a win."
For the second consecutive game, the 'Bows fumbled away key possessions in the closing minutes.
Hawai'i trailed by as many as nine points in the second half, but cut it to 60-59 with 3:35 remaining. However, the 'Bows committed two turnovers and got out-scored 8-3 the rest of the way.
"It's a recurring thing," Hawai'i head coach Bob Nash said. "We turn the ball over at inopportune times. We can't afford to do that."
The 'Bows followed a similar script in a 61-59 loss to Louisiana-Lafayette in a first-round game Wednesday. That sent Hawai'i to the afternoon consolation bracket for the first time since 1995.
But Nash was a little more satisfied with yesterday's performance by the 'Bows.
"It revealed the character of our team," Nash said. "We could have dropped our head and showed up and gone through the motions. But these guys battled hard. We had a chance to tie the game up and perhaps win it."
Matt Gibson led Hawai'i with 17 points. Bobby Nash added 12 points and Bill Amis had 10.
Nash and P.J. Owsley grabbed six rebounds each, leading the 'Bows to a 30-24 advantage on the boards.
Hawai'i's trio of long-range shooters — Gibson, Nash and Jared Dillinger — combined to go 2 for 17 from 3-point range.
"That's not acceptable," Nash said. "We're a much better shooting team than that. I have all the confidence in the world in these guys that they can make shots. But for some reason, they haven't been able to knock them down."
Hawai'i is 4 for 32 (12.5 percent) from 3-point range in the two Rainbow Classic games.
"We've never had a problem in our home gym, but we're struggling now a little bit," said Bobby Nash, who went 0 for 6 from long-range yesterday. "But that's no excuse."
In contrast, the Red Storm shot 60 percent from the field yesterday, including 71.4 percent (15 of 21) in the first half. Most of the St. John's baskets came off drives to the rim.
St. John's head coach Norm Roberts said it was part of his game plan to beat the Hawai'i defenders with one-on-one drives.
"We thought we could spread them out ... and maybe our foot speed would be a factor for us," Roberts said. "And it was. Once we got the court spread, we were able to beat them off the bounce."
Nineteen of St. John's 24 field goals came from within five feet of the rim.
Anthony Mason Jr. led the Red Storm with 17 points on 6-of-8 shooting. D.J. Kennedy and Justin Burrell added 12 points each — and Burrell threw in a powerful windmill dunk for the highlight reel.
"We've played against a lot of great players," Bobby Nash said. "Down the line, they're the most athletic team we've played."
In an effort to unite, the 'Bows slept in the Sheriff Center on Thursday night to prepare for yesterday's 11 a.m. start.
The plan appeared to pay off early as Hawai'i opened the game by making its first five shots and jumping to a 10-4 lead.
"You saw our identity in that first five or six minutes of the game when we couldn't miss," Bobby Nash said. "We were looking for each other and getting wide-open shots."
But St. John's started mixing its defense after that, and Roberts said the Red Storm paid particular attention to Bobby Nash.
"Nash is a great off-the-screen shooter and we wanted to try to make him feel as uncomfortable as possible," Roberts said.
The Red Storm rallied and led by as many as 10 in the first half before taking a 34-31 lead at intermission.
Hawai'i was a bit hampered in the second half by foul calls. The 'Bows were assessed five fouls in the first two minutes of the second half. Big men Stephen Verwers and Amis were limited to 13 and 16 minutes, respectively, due to foul trouble.
"You can't blame it on the refs," Luettgerodt said. "But that kind of affected the flow of the game, I think."
Hawai'i got as close as 60-59 on a layup by Gibson with 3:35 remaining. The 'Bows had possession trailing by one, but Nash missed a potential go-ahead jump shot.
St. John's point guard Eugene Lawrence then drained a 3-pointer to put the Red Storm up 63-59 with 1:54 left.
"It seemed like it was in the air forever," Luettgerodt said. "It just dropped through the net and I said you gotta be kidding me."
TULANE 70, GEORGIA 69
Remember how people were talking about a possible Hawai'i-Georgia game for the Rainbow Classic championship as a precursor for the Allstate Sugar Bowl?
Instead, the 'Bows and Bulldogs will be playing each other for seventh place.
David Gomez hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 6.5 seconds remaining to lead the Green Wave over Georgia in yesterday's second consolation game.
Kevin Sims drove down the lane, then passed it back to an open Gomez for the game-winner. Georgia's Billy Humphrey missed a 3-pointer as time expired.
Gomez scored a game-high 24 points for Tulane, which improved to 7-4.
Jeremy Price scored 22 to lead Georgia, which dropped to 6-4.
Reach Dayton Morinaga at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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