Hawaii sinks to bottom of WAC
• Photo gallery: Hawaii vs. Utah State basketball
By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer
Rock bottom keeps getting lower for the University of Hawai'i men's basketball team.
On a night when the Rainbow Warriors scored a season-low 50 points, they also dropped into last place in the Western Athletic Conference.
First-place Utah State defeated Hawai'i, 61-50, last night at the Stan Sheriff Center.
A crowd of 2,464 watched the 'Bows lose their ninth consecutive game to drop to 9-18 overall and 2-11 in the WAC.
"It's probably the most frustrating year I've been through, probably everybody else has been through, too," senior forward Brandon Adams said.
Utah State improved to 23-6 overall and 12-2 in the WAC with their 13th consecutive victory.
Boise State (13-15, 3-10) climbed one game ahead of the 'Bows with a 72-59 upset of Louisiana Tech earlier in the day.
Hawai'i has three games remaining to catch Boise State and qualify for the WAC Tournament at Reno, Nev.
For now, this is how bad it has become for the 'Bows: their margin of defeat against Utah State improved by 33 points since last month, and they still lost by double-digits last night.
"It's difficult, we just didn't have enough firepower," senior forward Adhar Mayen said.
Last month, Utah State defeated Hawai'i, 98-54, in Logan, Utah.
"It's been very frustrating," Hawai'i head coach Bob Nash said. "We've had a lot of obstacles to overcome. When you don't have the right pieces in place, you're going to struggle and that's what we're doing."
Four Hawai'i players finished with double-figure points: Hiram Thompson scored 13, Adams and Mayen had 12 each, and Roderick Flemings 11.
Flemings entered the game averaging 16.7 points per game, and scored 64 in his previous two games. However, Utah State often double-teamed him, and he shot 4 of 11 from the field.
"To Utah State's credit, they wanted to make other people beat us other than Rod Flemings," Nash said. "They double-teamed him, forced him into taking some bad shots, or shots that didn't come out of our offense, so they did a good job."
Still, the Aggies were not at their best. They shot 43.8 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from 3-point range — well below their season averages of 48.7 percent from the field and 42.7 percent from 3-point range.
"I didn't think we came out ready to play at all," junior guard Pooh Williams said. "We had to pick it up in the second half, but we'll take a win any way we can get it. The WAC is a great conference and the last-place team can beat the first-place team on any day."
The 'Bows stayed close to the Aggies for the first 15 minutes of the game, and even had an early 13-9 lead.
But the Aggies closed the half with a 10-0 run to take a 25-17 lead at intermission. Hawai'i went scoreless in the last 6:40 of the half.
The closest Hawai'i got in the second half was six points. A 3-pointer by Williams gave the Aggies a 39-27 lead with 13:14 remaining, and Hawai'i never threatened after that.
Jared Quayle led the methodical Utah State attack with 13 points, and Williams added 12.
The 'Bows will play their final home game of the season tomorrow against third-place Nevada. The five seniors — Adams, Petras Balocka, Paul Campbell, Flemings and Mayen — will be honored after the game.