POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Jan 16, 2011
RUSTON, La. » Bill Amis is back, and Hawaii is out of the basement.
Amis scored 22 points — including a game-changing dunk in the final minutes — to lead the Rainbow Warriors to their first WAC win of the season and their first road victory in 16 tries, 56-48 over Louisiana Tech.
Amis was playing in his fourth game since returning from a foot injury that sidelined him for 10 straight contests. He steadily improved in the first three games — six points against Idaho, nine against Boise State, and 10 in a loss to New Mexico State on Thursday — and his go-ahead slam dunk with 4 minutes remaining capped his return to form.
"I've sat out a lot of games and I'm just getting my rhythm back," said Amis, a 6-foot-7 senior forward. "We've got to carry this over, but it just feels good right now."
Hawaii (10-8, 1-5 WAC) led 40-35 with 12 minutes to play, but then surrendered an 8-0 run as Louisiana Tech surged ahead for a 43-40 lead. An Amis jump shot and a baseline runner from Zane Johnson put Hawaii back in front 44-43, and Tech's Tevin Hall split a pair of free throws to knot the score at 44 points apiece.
That's when Amis put his final stamp on the game. He posted up Tech's James Johnson on the left block, and after catching an entry pass he immediately spun toward the baseline and went up for a dunk. Despite absorbing a foul from Johnson he flushed the ball through the basket with both hands, and though he missed the ensuing free throw, the Rainbows controlled the rest of the game.
"Huge, huge play, and he's not known as a dunker," Hawaii head coach Gib Arnold said. "He's kind of a jump shooter. But he took it to the rim hard, and right when we needed it. That momentum gave us 3 minutes of legs when our legs were really tired."
From Amis' dunk with 4:17 minutes remaining until the final buzzer sounded, Hawaii outscored Tech 12-4. Hiram Thompson scored on a fast-break layup, Vander Joaquim laid a soft shot off the glass late in the shot clock and Jeremiah Ostrowski found Joston Thomas for an alley-oop layup as the Rainbows put the game away.
Hawaii led for most of the tightly contested first half, but never by more than six points.
Amis scored six points in the final 5 minutes of the half to propel the Rainbows into intermission with a 29-25 lead. He beat a lazy defender up the floor and cut to the basket for a layup that tied the game at 21-21 — with Zane Johnson providing a nifty assist — drove for another layup, and then sank a 15-foot jump shot from the left wing.
Johnson — who entered the game averaging a team-best 15.1 points per game — was just 2-for-10 from the field and 1-for-7 from 3-point distance. He fouled out with 3 minutes remaining and finished with just seven points, but was a major contributor on defense. Hawaii held DeAndre Brown and Olu Ashaolu, two of the top scorers in the WAC, to 12 combined points.
"Give Zane some credit," Arnold said. "He actually guarded DeAndre Brown, their leading scorer, and held him under his average. He didn't score it like he normally does, but he guarded as well as anybody out there tonight."
Amis had 12 rebounds to go with his 22 points. Joaquim had nine points and 12 rebounds.
True freshmen Kenyon McNeaill and Cordarius Johnson had 11 points each to pace the Bulldogs. Tech has lost six straight games and is the only WAC team without a win in conference play.
"I thought we had as many good looks as they did down at the end when the game was tight," Tech head coach Kerry Rupp said. "(Hawaii) did the right things."
Hawaii hosts Fresno State on Thursday at 7 p.m.
|Utah State||5||0||1.000 — 16-2|
|New Mexico St.||4||1||.800||1||10-9|
|Boise State||4||2||.666||1 1/2||11-7|
|San Jose State||1||5||.200||4 1/2||9-8|
Hawaii 56, Louisiana Tech 48
New Mexico State 78, San Jose State 53
Idaho 78, Cal State Bakersfield 77, OT
Utah State 52, Fresno State 39
Nevada 69, Boise State 67
Idaho at Fresno State
|RAINBOW WARRIORS (10-8, 1-5 WAC)|
|BULLDOGS (9-10, 0-5 WAC)|
Key -- fg-a: field goals made-attempted; ft-a: free throws made-attempted; rb: rebounds; pf: personal fouls; pts: total points; a: assists; to: turnovers; min: minutes played.
Halftime -- Hawaii 29, Louisiana Tech 25
3-point goals -- Hawaii 2-10 (Thompson 1-1, Johnson 1-7, Thomas 0-1, Barnes 0-1). Louisiana Tech 2-14 (McNeaill 1-3, C. Johnson 1-6, Ashaolu 0-1, Scott 0-1, Brown 0-3).
Steals -- Hawaii 3 (Amis, Ostrowski, Wiseman). Louisiana Tech 10 (Ashaolu 3, Brown 2, McNeaill 2, C. Johnson 2, Hall). Blocked shots -- Hawaii 6 (Joaquim 3, Thomas 2, Amis). Louisiana Tech 2 (Roshell, Lewis). Officials -- Winston Stith, Casey McClellan, Bobby Vetkoetter. A--1,719.