SALT LAKE CITY » Everything was in place for a great story.
During his first season as the head basketball coach at Hawaii, Gib Arnold came back to Utah yesterday afternoon to play his alma mater on the home court of his favorite NBA team in front of his father. To complete the perfect story line, all he had to do was defeat unbeaten and nationally ranked Brigham Young, the program the elder Arnold, Frank, once took to the Elite Eight, which is now led by the younger Arnold’s former junior college coach.
The No. 21 Cougars failed to cooperate, however, and simply dealt Arnold and the Rainbow Warriors their 13th straight road defeat, 78-57.
"It would have been nice if we would have beat ’em by 21," Arnold admitted afterward. "That would have been a better ending."
The worst shooting effort of the season doomed the Rainbows (5-2) from start to finish as they shot just 31 percent from the field and were a dismal 1-for-13 from 3-point range. That more than negated a strong effort on the boards — Hawaii outrebounded BYU 43-33 — and a 20-for-23 performance at the free-throw line.
"Effort wasn’t the issue at all here," Arnold said. "I think our guys battled; we outrebounded one of the best rebounding teams in the country by 10. But we didn’t shoot it very well, and we’re an outstanding 3-point shooting team. We just couldn’t hit shots, and so we never got into a flow offensively and you have to give credit to BYU."
Hiram Thompson came off the bench for the first time this season, but the senior guard still led the Rainbows with 13 points, while going 4-for-11 from the field and 5-for-5 from the free-throw line in 29 minutes. Sophomore center Vander Joaquim (12 points, 12 rebounds) became the first Hawaii player to record a double-double this year, while sophomore forward Joston Thomas (12 points, six rebounds) also reached double figures in scoring.
"We gave it everything we had, but we just didn’t knock down shots that we usually make," Thompson said. "If those go down it would have been a closer game, but tonight wasn’t our night on the shooting end."
Preseason All-American Jimmer Fredette paced the Cougars (8-0) with 16 points, but he didn’t notch his first field goal until midway through the first half and had a relatively quiet night (6-for-13 from the field, 0-for-4 from 3-point range).
"I think we did a good job on (Fredette), but it was probably a push because of what some of their other guys did," Arnold said.
The Cougars hardly noticed that Fredette was held seven points below his season average thanks to an extremely well-balanced attack that saw seven different players contribute six or more points, including season-best offensive performances by unheralded reserves Stephen Rogers (13 points, three 3-pointers) and Logan Magnusson (11 points).
Coming into the game, Magnusson was averaging less than two points a night, while Rogers was 0-for-7 from 3-point range and had scored a total of 10 points in six games.
"We got some great minutes from Logan Magnusson and Stephen Rogers because we had Noah (Hartsock) and Brandon (Davies) get into foul trouble," BYU head coach Dave Rose said. "And that’s good. Every time you get guys that go in there and they feel comfortable and confident and make shots and make plays for your team, it makes you deeper and helps you down the road."
Arnold, who played one season for Rose at Dixie State College in southern Utah, had a similar attitude at the very beginning of the game, starting three freshmen (Bobby Miles, Bo Barnes and Trevor Wiseman) and two sophomores (Thomas and Joaquim). That left Thompson and junior Zane Johnson to come off the bench, while senior forward and leading scorer Bill Amis did not play due to a stress fracture in his right foot.
"I think boys can win at home, but it takes men to win on the road, so the sooner we can make those boys into men, the better we’ll be," Arnold explained. "I thought it was important to get those guys in there and let ’em see what it’s like to play in a real road environment. Hopefully they’ll learn from it. I think we’re better now than we were 40 minutes ago, and it will help us in the long run."
After Miles scored the first bucket of the game on a 15-foot jumper, the Cougars scored 10 straight points and never trailed again. While the Warriors got back to within four points on several occasions early in the first half, Rogers came off the bench to spark a 14-6 BYU run with 11 points in a span of just over 5 minutes.
Fredette then heated up a little late in the half to put the Cougars up 43-27 at intermission, and the Rainbows were never able to get any closer than 12 points in the second half as Brigham Young shot an even 50 percent from the field for the game and dropped in 14 of 17 free-throw attempts.
BYU 78, HAWAII 57
|Rainbow Warriors (5-2)|
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 — BYU 43, Hawaii 27
3-point goals — Hawaii 1-13 (Thomas 1-2, Miles 0-1, Thompson 0-3, Johnson 0-3, Barnes 0-4), BYU 6-19 (Rogers 3-4, Emery 2-5, Zylstra 1-3, Collinsworth 0-1, Abouo 0-1, Martineau 0-1, Fredette 0-4).
Steals — Hawaii 2 (Thomas, Thompson), BYU 4 (Rogers, Zylstra, Davies, Collinsworth). Blocked shots — Hawaii 1 (Thomas), BYU 4 (Hartsock 2, Davies, Abouo). Officials — Bill Gracey, Brad Gaston, Glen Mayberry. A– 13,312.