The Hawaii men’s basketball team was outplayed most of the way in a 82-64 loss to New Mexico State at the Pan American Center in Las Cruces, N.M., today.
The Rainbow Warriors (9-8 overall) are solely in last place in the Western Athletic Conference at 0-5. It is the team’s worst start in WAC play since 1986-87.
Junior guard Zane Johnson led UH with a career-high 25 points, sophomore center Vander Joaquim had 12 points and 13 rebounds and senior forward Bill Amis added 10 points.
NMSU (9-9, 3-1 WAC) made its first six shots of the game and didn’t trail after the opening point for Hawaii. The Aggies led by as many as 30 points and shot 49 percent from the field compared to 39 percent for UH. The Rainbows narrowed the gap with some hustle late in the game.
The Aggies attempted 39 free throws, making 26, compared to a 12-for-19 effort from the line for UH. UH was whistled for 33 fouls, and five players fouled out.
UH remained winless in six games at NMSU and dropped its 13th straight WAC road game going back to 2008-09.
UH ends the two-game road trip at Louisiana Tech (9-9, 0-4 WAC) on Saturday in what’s become a critical game at the back end of the conference.
The last-place WAC team after 16 league games misses out on the WAC tournament, which was Hawaii’s fate last season.
UH pulled to within 22-21 on a Johnson 3-pointer, but the Aggies, sparked by the first appearance of the game for star forward Troy Gillenwater, hit consecutive 3s and went ahead 33-23. The Aggies maintained their double-digit lead into halftime at 42-29. The Rainbows would get no closer in the second half.
Hernst Larcoche led well-balanced NMSU with 14 points.