'Bows turn it on late to beat Southern Utah
• Photo gallery: Hawaii vs. Southern Utah basketball
By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer
For its opening act, the University of Hawai'i men's basketball team appeared, disappeared, then reappeared in a 65-48 victory over Southern Utah last night.
A crowd of 3,737 at the Stan Sheriff Center watched the Rainbow Warriors win a season opener for the first time since 2005.
The 'Bows opened the game in impressive fashion, then blew a 13-point lead, and then finished with a flourish to defeat the Thunderbirds.
The season opener for both teams came on the opening night of the 46th annual Outrigger Hotels Rainbow Classic.
Roderick Flemings started his senior season in style, recording a double-double — 23 points and 12 rebounds — to lead the 'Bows.
"It was good," said Flemings, a 6-foot-7 forward. "It was the first game, but I felt like that was good chemistry."
Dwain Williams, making his debut in a Hawai'i uniform, added 16 points, although he shot just 4 of 13 from the field.
"There's always room for improvement," said Wil-liams, a 6-foot junior guard. "I missed some easy 3s, some 3s that I normally make."
Williams went 2 of 7 from 3-point range, and the 'Bows shot 3 of 16 from long-range as a team.
"We didn't shoot the ball well from 3 (but) we will," Hawai'i head coach Bob Nash said. "We're capable, and we will shoot the ball better, which should open up the floor even more for our bigs on the inside."
Petras Balocka added seven points and 11 rebounds, helping Hawai'i to a 41-26 advantage on the boards.
"The main thing is we controlled the boards," Nash said.
Southern Utah head coach Roger Reid agreed that the rebounding margin was crucial.
"The rebounding was big," Reid said. "Our big guys are all young, and I think it showed. Hawai'i's big guys really established themselves inside."
Hawai'i opened the game with an 11-2 lead, and stayed in control for most of the first half. The 'Bows led by as many as 13, and took a 32-27 lead at intermission.
The Thunderbirds closed the first half with a 10-2 surge, then opened the second half with a9-3 run to take a 36-35 lead with 12:10 remaining.
The 'Bows shot 0 for 8 from the field to open the second half.
"We basically just had to settle down and start running our stuff," Williams said. "We were looking too much to go one-on-one."
Reserves Jeremy Lay and Adhar Mayen sparked the final flourish with their defense.
"The guy that played probably the best on-ball defense tonight was Adhar Mayen," Nash said. "Jeremy Lay, he did an awesome job contesting everything."
Lay also scored four points and had a pretty assist for a Flemings dunk during a 15-4 run that put Hawai'i back on top, 54-42. The 'Bows then turned it into a blowout in the closing minutes.
"To these guys' credit, they fought back, hit some big shots, started to play together and got back into the offensive system rather than trying to go one-on-one and shoot long 3s," Nash said.
The 'Bows used only eight players, and all made contributions.
Point guard Hiram Thompson finished with four points, five rebounds and five assists with zero turnovers. The 'Bows finished with 17 assists and 12 turnovers.
Center Paul Campbell did not score, but had two rebounds, four assists and four blocked shots.
Hawai'i played without starting forward and senior captain Bill Amis (foot injury) and reserve 7-foot center Douglas Kurtz (NCAA suspension).
Davis Baker led Southern Utah with 14 points, although he shot just 6 of 17 from the field.
"Once we got the lead, we rushed our shots," Baker said. "Then (Hawai'i) picked it up and we let them pass the ball where ever they wanted to go."
The Rainbow Classic will continue tomorrow. Southern Utah will play Northern Colorado at 2:30 p.m., then the 'Bows will play McNeese State at 5:05 p.m.
NORTHERN COLORADO 101, MCNEESE STATE 73
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