'Bows are long shots in the worst way
By Ferd Lewis
You won't see Joe Pugh's name in the University of Hawai'i men's basketball box score from last night.
And, that's too bad because he hit the longest shots of any UH student last night.
Pugh, an accounting major, won a Neighbor Island trip and 15 burgers in a Jack-in-the-Box contest for making a 3-point shot and a half court shot — which was one more long range basket than the Rainbow Warriors made as a team in a 65-60 loss to Louisiana Tech.
The 'Bows settled for a season low of 1-of-13 shots from 3-point range and the meager 7.7 percent accuracy cost them in a second consecutive down-to-the-wire loss. It was their worst 3-point shooting performance since going 1-of-17 against Nevada-Las Vegas in 2005-'06.
And it was an excruciating way to lose a game in which the 'Bows played with rare 40-minute zeal while impressively mastering their season-long malady, turnovers.
UH's five turnovers was a season low and a fraction of the Bulldogs' 11 and the 'Bows got 20 of their points off turnovers, remarkably turning the tables on their recent history. But it was not quite enough to swing the outcome in a contest in which a mere three 3-pointers would have carried the night.
For the lack of guard Dwain Williams, who was said to be in California for the funeral of a cousin, the 'Bows might well have swept this three-game homestand.
Williams is their most accomplished outside and 3-point shooter and his absence loomed large for the conference's poorest shooting team. Especially with UH's other guards, Jeremy Lay (0-of-8 in 3-pointers and 2-of-12 overall) and Hiram Thompson (0-of-1 from 3-point range and 1-of-7 overall), struggling from outside and no one else around to pick up the slack.
"That was huge," said Tech coach Kerry Rupp. "Staying on their shooters, pressuring them, shutting them down outside was key for us."
And because the Bulldogs (18-3, 6-1 WAC) were able to do it they remain in first place in the Western Athletic Conference by a half game. UH, meanwhile, is a half game out of eighth place at 2-5 (9-11) in the nine-team conference.
For the 'Bows the battle in the second half of the conference schedule will be to avoid finishing last (ninth) and missing out on the WAC Tournament from March 11 to 13 in Reno. A challenging task to be sure now that four of their next five games and 6 of 10 are on the road.
For lack of long range shooting ability, the 'Bows, avoiding being left out of the conference tournament has now become, in itself, a long shot.