'Bows suffer another tough setback, 65-60
• Photo gallery: UH vs. Louisiana Tech basketball
By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer
On a night when the University of Hawai'i men's basketball team finally took care of the basketball, it couldn't figure out how to put it in the basket.
As a result, the Rainbow Warriors lost another heartbreaker, 65-60, to Louisiana Tech last night.
The 'Bows stayed with the first-place Bulldogs all game, and got as close as two points in the final minute.
"Same kind of feeling from the other night," Hawai'i senior forward Roderick Flemings said, referring to a last-second loss to second-place New Mexico State on Thursday.
A crowd of 3,903 at the Stan Sheriff Center watched the 'Bows drop to 9-11 overall and 2-5 in the Western Athletic Conference.
LaTech improved to 18-3 overall and moved into sole possession of first place at 6-1.
The 'Bows are in seventh place in the nine-team WAC after the tough back-to-back losses to the top two teams.
"We proved to ourselves that we can play with the best in the league," Hawai'i head coach Bob Nash said. "So we're going to take that with us as we go forward."
Continuing his recent streak of success, senior forward Brandon Adams had yet another career-best game with 20 points and a team-best nine rebounds. He has reached double-figure points in his last four games. Prior to that, he had three double-figure games this season.
Adams shot 8 of 12 from the field.
Flemings added 17 points and six rebounds. On defense, he helped limit LaTech guard Kyle Gibson to 19 points on 5-of-19 shooting.
Gibson entered the game ranked second in the WAC with 21.7 points per game.
"I feel like I did a pretty good job on him," Flemings said. "He's a pretty good scorer. We did it collectively as a team. Slowed him down pretty good."
Gibson came through in the clutch, however, draining four free throws in the final 32 seconds to secure the win. He had missed three free throws moments earlier, allowing the 'Bows to get as close as two points in the final minute.
"To their credit, I thought (Hawai'i) battled and played hard the whole game," LaTech head coach Kerry Rupp said. "We had to fight and we're fortunate to get the win."
The one LaTech player Hawai'i couldn't stop was 6-foot-11 center Magnum Rolle. He finished with 23 points on 11-of-18 shooting, and grabbed 17 rebounds. It was the most rebounds by a Hawai'i opponent this season.
"He was just a force, he was a big force," Nash said.
Adams added: "He was just getting basically everything he could. That was basically all like missed assignments, not boxing out."
Rolle led LaTech to a 43-32 advantage on the boards. It was the most rebounds grabbed by an opposing team against Hawai'i this season.
But even more costly for the 'Bows was their poor shooting. Hawai'i shot 37.1 percent from the field, including a season-worst 1 for 13 (7.7 percent) from 3-point range.
"We just didn't make shots when we needed to," Nash said. "That was a big difference tonight."
Spoiled in the loss was a season-low five turnovers by Hawai'i. The 'Bows entered the game averaging 14.7 turnovers per game.
"I thought our guys gave great effort and I can live with that when guys give that kind of effort on a nightly basis," Nash said.
The lead changed six times in the first half, and LaTech eventually took a 31-30 lead at intermission.
The Bulldogs took control of the second half with an 8-2 run that gave them a 50-43 lead with 8:52 remaining. LaTech increased the lead to as many as nine, but Hawai'i made it exciting at the end.
A putback by Flemings cut the LaTech lead to 61-57 with 42.8 seconds remaining. Jeremy Lay then scored on a driving layup with 33.8 seconds left to make it 61-59.
Hawai'i played its third consecutive game without junior guard Dwain Williams, who is attending the funeral of his cousin in California this weekend.
The 'Bows are scheduled to depart Honolulu on Tuesday for a two-game WAC road trip. They play at San Jose State on Thursday, then at Nevada on Saturday.