Rebels made 'Bows look bad
By Ferd Lewis
The first shot taken by the University of Hawai'i men's basketball team last night clanged off the side of the backboard frame.
And shots numbers two through 10, including a blown layup, weren't any more successful.
Thus was born the first rule of the inaugural Diamond Head Classic: If you can't hit the broad side of Diamond Head, chances are you aren't going to win the event, either.
Twentieth-ranked Nevada-Las Vegas' relentless man-to-man defense forced the Rainbow Warriors (6-5) into their worst shooting night of the season, sending UH to a 77-53 defeat and into the third place game tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. against Saint Mary's.
It is revealing that even in a game in which it shot poorly from the free throw line (63 percent), UH still made more free throws (19) than field goals (15) against the Rebels (12-1). This was accomplished by shooting a meager 34 percent from the field for the game and paltry 23.8 percent in the telltale first half.
Couple that with 19 turnovers, which UNLV recycled into 23 points, and the 'Bows' prime time West Coast appearance on ESPN quickly became an invitation to channel surf.
A Stan Sheriff Center crowd of 3,780 that showed up to cheer on the 'Bows in a rare December home game against a nationally ranked opponent had little to shout about as UH made none of its first 10 shots and but five of its first 25.
"They took us out of it and they took the crowd out of it," said guard Dwain Williams, whose game-high 20 points was pretty much the UH highlight for the night. Unfortunately by the time Williams entered play with 4 minutes 59 seconds gone the trend was established.
"Against a team that put tremendous pressure on us we kinda got out of character in terms of how we do things," said UH head coach Bob Nash. "We got some clean looks (at the basket); we just got taken out of our comfort zone."
Fact is the 'Bows never really looked comfortable — or even inspired all night. Rebounding and free throw shooting, their usual fallbacks were instead setbacks after being out-performed in both areas by the Rebels.
Their most productive scorer of late, Petras Balocka, was held to four points. Their best player, Roderick Flemings, had eight points, and between them made two of 10 field goal attempts.
"They took us out of the stuff we wanted to run and made us take a lot of shots that we normally wouldn't take," Williams. "I really had never seen anyone face guard everything and switch everything. But, for the most part, if we could have matched their intensity, I felt like we would have been all right."
Because they couldn't do that or shoot, the 'Bows never had a chance last night.