Cal Poly blitzes UH, 102-89
• Photo gallery: Hawaii vs. Cal Poly basketball
By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer
On a night when several records were established, the one that matters most — that of the University of Hawai'i men's basketball team — continued to decline.
Cal Poly did what no other Hawai'i opponent ever could in the Stan Sheriff Center in its 102-89 victory over the Rainbow Warriors last night.
The Mustangs became the first opponent to score 100 points on Hawai'i since the Sheriff Center opened in 1994.
Overshadowed in the loss was another Sheriff Center record set by Hawai'i's Roderick Flemings. He scored 39 points — the most by a Hawai'i player in the history of the arena.
But the bottom line through the non-conference game was that it still counted as a loss — the 'Bows' eighth in a row in a skid that has lasted more than one month.
A crowd of 2,669 at the Sheriff Center watched the 'Bows drop to 9-17. Because it was a non-conference game, it had no bearing on the Western Athletic Conference standings.
Hawai'i is still tied with Boise State at the bottom of the WAC with four regular-season games remaining, including a game at Boise State on March 4.
Cal Poly, which is currently tied for fifth place in the Big West Conference, improved to 10-16.
"When you shoot as well as we did in the first half, it solves a lot of problems," Cal Poly head coach Joe Callero said. "All of a sudden it gives your team a lot of energy that can last throughout a game, and we needed it."
Hawai'i fell behind by as many as 23 points in the first half, and trailed from start to finish. An inspired second-half effort by Flemings helped get Hawai'i as close as eight, but the Mustangs pulled away at the end.
"I think we got ourselves in a big hole the first half," Flemings said. "That was a good 3-point shooting team and we shouldn't have let them get so hot in the beginning."
The Mustangs shot 61.5 percent from the field for the game, including 11 of 21 from 3-point range (52.4 percent). They were especially effective in the first half, shooting 66.7 percent from the field and going 8 of 12 from 3-point range.
"We talked about that being money in the bank and we had to earn interest on it in the second half, which we did because Hawai'i made a nice run at us," Callero said.
Flemings scored 25 in the second half when the 'Bows were in rally mode.
"That's what I felt — that was the only way we were going to get back into it was if I got more shots up," he said.
Flemings shot 15 of 30 from the field, including 3 of 6 from 3-point range. He also went 6 of 8 on free throws and grabbed five rebounds.
Petras Balocka also turned in an impressive statistical game with 23 points and 16 rebounds for the 'Bows. Hiram Thompson added 13 points, including four 3-pointers.
The 'Bows shot 45.2 percent from the field, including 8 of 17 from 3-point range. They also out-rebounded the Mustangs, 35-24.
Still, it was not nearly enough against Cal Poly, which had five players finish with double-figure points.
The Mustangs opened the game by draining three consecutive 3-pointers to set the tone for the rest of the evening.
Cal Poly went on a 12-0 run to take a 35-18 lead. The Mustangs led by as many as 23 in the first half and took a 51-30 lead at the half.
The Mustangs pushed the lead back up to 23 before the 'Bows used a full-court defense to fuel a rally. A 16-3 run cut the Cal Poly lead to 63-53 with 14:38 remaining.
The closest Hawai'i got was eight at 64-56. The Mustangs later went on a 10-0 run to increase the lead to an insurmountable 83-63 with 5:41 remaining.
Lorenzo Keeler led the Mustangs with 31 points, including 16 of 16 shooting on free throws.
The 'Bows will host Utah State on Thursday, and Nevada Saturday.