UH men lose at Fresno State, 78-64
The first rule of the road for the University of Hawai'i men's basketball team is to take care of the basketball.
The Rainbow Warriors broke that rule last night and it resulted in a 78-64 loss at Fresno State.
The 'Bows committed 20 turnovers, and the Bulldogs took advantage of nearly every one in the Western Athletic Conference game.
"That's the first thing we wrote on the board in the locker room before the game," Hawai'i head coach Bob Nash said. "Then we went out and had 15 turnovers in the first half. You take yourself out of position to win the game already."
Indeed, the game was never close in the second half.
An announced crowd of 8,193 at the Save Mart Center in Fresno, Calif., watched the 'Bows drop to 8-8 overall and 1-2 in the WAC. Fresno State improved to 9-7 and 2-0.
Jeremy Lay led Hawai'i with 14 points and four assists off the bench, but he also committed five turnovers.
Roderick Flemings added 13 points — all in the second half when the 'Bows were in catch-up mode. He had zero points and zero rebounds in the decisive first half, when he played just eight minutes due to three fouls.
Hawai'i senior forward Petras Balocka finished with five points, four rebounds and six turnovers. He was limited to three minutes in the second half before leaving with a shoulder injury.
"Not having Rod in the first half and then Petras in the second half, we lost some of our firepower," Nash said.
Too often, the 'Bows shot themselves in the foot.
Hawai'i's 20 turnovers led directly to 32 points for the Bulldogs — many of them breakaway dunks or layups. In contrast, the 'Bows scored just 10 points off Fresno State's nine turnovers.
"Careless passes," Nash lamented. "Trying to thread the needle when we should have been taking a little more time to make a better pass."
The 'Bows stayed close for the first 10 minutes of the game, and trailed just 28-24 with 9:37 remaining in the first half.
But the Bulldogs then went on a 16-1 run to increase their lead to 44-25, and then eventually took a 47-29 lead at intermission.
"It was just too much to overcome," Nash said.
Hawai'i never threatened in the second half, and trailed by as many as 24. Midway through the second half, the Bulldogs were toying with Hawai'i, as evidenced by an off-the-backboard pass by Steven Shepp that Mike Ladd grabbed for a dunk.
The final margin was as close as it got in the second half.
"We made some adjustments and took better care of the ball in the second half," Nash said. "But when you give up that much of a lead on the road, you make it that much harder on yourself."
Fresno State's Paul George proved his worth as an All-WAC candidate with 21 points, nine rebounds, six assists and four steals.
Flemings was hoping to wear a new pair of colorful shoes last night, but he could not because it did not receive the proper clearance from school officials.
Hawai'i will stay on the WAC road for a game at Utah State tomorrow.