POSTED: 6:09 p.m. HST, Mar 9, 2012
LAST UPDATED: 7:07 p.m. HST, Mar 9, 2012
LAS VEGAS >> A game-long Hawaii comeback effort was turned back at several points by New Mexico State as the Aggies advanced to the championship game of the WAC tournament with a 92-81 defeat of the Rainbow Warriors today.
UH's season likely came to an end at 16-16, though there is a small chance the Rainbow Warriors could be invited to the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament. UH coach Gib Arnold said he hadn't received any word of an invitation and was flying out to recruit tomorrow.
Second-seeded NMSU (25-9) moved on to Saturday's WAC championship game to face the winner of top-seeded Nevada and No. 5 Louisiana Tech.
An entertaining, up-and-down contest before about 500 UH fans at the Orleans Arena was made all the more remarkable by UH's 20-point deficit in the opening minutes. NMSU scored the game's first 17 points.
Shaquille Stokes tied a career high of 21 points in the loss. Miah Ostrowski dished a career-best 13 assists. Vander Joaquim scored 17 and Hauns Brereton and Trevor Wiseman added 10 points apiece.
UH got to within a point on Brereton's baseline jumper with 10:40 left, but NMSU point guard Hernst Laroche completed a four-point play at the other end.
Wiseman got a putback with 4:45 left to make it 76-73 NMSU, but the Aggies scored the next five points and sealed it late at the free-throw line.