'Bows shot themselves in the foot
Two nights earlier the University of Hawai'i men's basketball team had beaten Louisiana Tech with its uncanny 3-point shooting.
Last night the Rainbow Warriors' long distance game claimed another victim: itself.
In the wake of a 71-68 loss to New Mexico State — and it every bit resembled a wake as the 'Bows trudged off to the airport and a late night flight to Salt Lake City en route to tomorrow's game at Utah State — there was no denying the wounds were self-inflicted.
"We beat ourselves," Bobby Nash said solemnly before launching a kick in frustration.
And that was the pain of it for the 14-11 (5-7 conference) 'Bows who saw an opportunity to reach .500 in the Western Athletic Conference disappear perhaps for the final time this season in a hail of 3-point attempts that were too often guided by impatience rather than prudence.
After the exhilaration of a season-best 12-of-20 shooting from the 3-point arc against Louisiana Tech there was only the exasperation of 4-of-19 accuracy against the Aggies.
Whether it was the hangover from the big win over the Bulldogs or a case of trying too hard to keep up with the furious run-and-gun of the conference's highest-scoring team — or, most likely a combination thereof — the 'Bows let this one slip away.
"We tried to put the quick kill to 'em," sighed UH coach Riley Wallace, looking like a man who had suffered a slow death in the process.
The 'Bows got away from what had helped them win four of their previous five games and what had fueled them to early leads in this one.
"As a shooter you always feel like your shot is going in," Nash said afterward.
But on this night and, more importantly, against this better quality opponent, the 19-6 (9-3 WAC) Aggies, it was a bravado that failed the 'Bows, a team not normally inclined to let its fortunes ride on 3-point shooting. Indeed, entering the game, UH had ranked last in the nine-team WAC and 292nd nationally in 3-point attempts at 5.3 per game).
It was a reliance that failed them in protecting and adding to early leads and deserted them in final-seconds desperation when two 3-point attempts, either of which could have tied the game in the last 15 seconds of regulation, failed to fall.
The last one, a 30-foot let-it-fly banker by Lojeski that nearly found the mark, pretty much summed up the disappointment.
"We forced a little too many especially at times when we should have worked the clock and got a better shot," Lojeski said. "I think we shot too many. I think we relied too much on shooting instead of grinding it out and getting good shots."
Forty-eight hours after living large with their 3-point shooting, the 'Bows expired with the lack of it.
Reach Ferd Lewis at email@example.com or 525-8044.