University of Hawaii men’s basketball coach Gib Arnold stared disbelievingly at the game’s box score and mouthed a silent, "Wow!"
That would be "wow" as in "how?"
In that he was not alone. How, for example, do you force a season-high 21 turnovers and lose, at home, by 15 points to a team you should beat?
Indeed, Idaho’s 59-44 victory over the Rainbow Warriors was a head-shaker for all concerned and a missed opportunity that threatens to haunt them far beyond last night.
If getting into the Western Athletic Conference tournament becomes touch-and-go for them, the ‘Bows will look back on last night as a major reason why.
It was a game they needed to win.
Had to win.
And, given the circumstances, thought they would have. "I’d have said you’re crazy," Idaho coach Don Verlin said when asked if he thought the Vandals could get away with 21 turnovers (UH had 15) and win on the road.
But, on a night when the baffling ‘Bows missed a wide-open slam dunk, airballed a free throw and managed only 15 second-half points, all things seemed plausible.
Except hitting their shots, that is.
UH made just 29.4 percent of its field goals and a meager 13.6 of its three-point attempts. It went 4-minute spans without a point.
Uncharacteristically, Joston Thomas (1-for-9), Hiram Thompson (3-for-10) and Bill Amis (2-for-7), hit the roughest bumps, the kind that Arnold said he hadn’t seen, collectively, in practice from them.
"They missed some shots tonight (that) I don’t know if it was all our doing," Verlin acknowledged. "They missed some wide-open shots they normally make."
It was hardly the WAC home opener the Rainbows were looking for after an 0-2 start. And it was definitely not what seemed in the cards against a six-point underdog when UH took the floor buoyed by the return of its captain, Amis, for the first time in 11 games.
But a night that began with heavy applause greeting Amis’ announced return to the starting lineup ended with many in the Stan Sheriff Center crowd of about 4,000 heading to the exits with 5 minutes, 3 seconds left, the outcome no longer in doubt but questions lingering as Boise State arrives for tomorrow night’s game.
It was a loss that left the Rainbows at 9-6 and, more painfully, 0-3 in the WAC. For if there was a time and place to rally after the 0-2 road trip, this was it.
After what was described as three good practices, did anybody see this coming?
"Nope," Thompson said.
Asked what happened, Thompson could have been the spokesman for all concerned. "I just don’t know," he said.
And that isn’t where the ‘Bows want — or need — to be right now.
Reach Ferd Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org.