'Bows snap out of it by beating Wolf Pack
• Photo gallery: Hawaii vs. Nevada basketball
By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer
You know when people fear a tsunami is about to wash everything away and it doesn't?
The state of Hawai'i went through it yesterday, then the University of Hawai'i men's basketball team experienced something like it last night.
The Rainbow Warriors broke a nine-game losing streak with a 74-63 upset of Nevada, turning "Senior Night" into a jubilant celebration, and rejuvenating their hopes for a spot in the Western Athletic Conference Tournament.
"Nothing was going to ruin our Senior Night," senior forward Adhar Mayen said. "Not a tsunami, not Nevada, nothing."
Hawai'i head coach Bob Nash said: "This is the team we've been waiting to show up and tonight they showed up. Our shooters stepped up and made big shots. We had a lot of energy. It was just a great team effort."
A crowd of 3,469 at the Stan Sheriff Center watched Hawai'i win its home finale to improve to 10-18 overall and 3-11 in the WAC.
The 'Bows are still tied with Boise State at the bottom of the WAC standings. However, Hawai'i's next game is at Boise State on Thursday, and if the 'Bows win that game, they will qualify for the WAC Tournament.
"It feels so great right now, I can't explain it," Mayen said. "This win is a blessing, what we've been looking for for a long time. Now we can take this momentum to Boise."
Nevada dropped to 17-11 overall and 9-5 in the WAC. The Wolf Pack, which will host the WAC Tournament, is tied for third place.
Senior forward Roderick Flemings — playing his last home game in a Hawai'i uniform —went above the rim often to lead the 'Bows with 20 points and 12 rebounds. His three-point play with 2:17 remaining gave the momentum back to Hawai'i after Nevada cut a 17-point deficit to three.
"I was pumped tonight," Flemings said. "I wanted to show everybody how much I appreciate playing here in Hawai'i."
Among the crowd were 10 members of Flemings' family from Dallas.
"He certainly didn't want to disappoint them," Nash said. "We should have brought them here a long time ago because he played really well tonight ... it was just a great performance by Rod, probably his best performance since he's been here. Not necessarily in total number of points, but in how he did things."
Junior point guard Hiram Thompson added a career-high 19 points and six assists, and Mayen scored a career-high 17 for Hawai'i.
The 'Bows planned to stay in a Waikīkī hotel on Friday night because it was their last home game, but they were forced to evacuate in the middle of the night due to the tsunami warning.
"It was like, what else can happen to us," Flemings said. "But we've been through so much already this season, we found a way."
Nevada was adversely affected. The Wolf Pack had to cancel its pregame shootaround yesterday afternoon because it was sequestered in its Waikīkī hotel for most of the day.
"You don't have your normal routine because of that," Nevada head coach David Carter said. "You want to worry about safety first ... it's not an excuse."
The 'Bows shot 53.2 percent from the field, including 8 of 13 from 3-point range. Thompson and Mayen each went 3 of 4 on 3-pointers.
Nevada, meanwhile, shot 41.5 percent from the field.
The first half was close, and it ended with Hawai'i ahead, 35-32. Flemings scored 14 in the first half, including two highlight-reel dunks.
The 'Bows increased the lead to as many as 17 in the second half, then held off a late Nevada charge.
The Wolf Pack cut the Hawai'i lead to 62-59 with 2:45 remaining, but the 'Bows responded with the next 10 points to seize control for good.
It was the final home game for five Hawai'i seniors: Brandon Adams, Petras Balocka, Paul Campbell, Flemings and Mayen.