LAS CRUCES, N.M. » Positives are hard to come by in an 18-point road loss during a winless conference start.
Hawaii trailed by as many as 30 in an 82-64 loss at New Mexico State last night, falling to 0-5 in Western Athletic Conference play and losing for the sixth straight time to the Aggies and for the 13th straight time on the road in conference play.
But the Rainbow Warriors hope to carry the effort from the second unit in the last 10 minutes into tomorrow’s contest at 0-4 Louisiana Tech.
"I think it’s down, but the last 10 minutes, the guys that were in, we really showed that we are going to play," said Hawaii junior guard Zane Johnson, who scored a career-high 25 points on 9-for-19 shooting in 40 minutes. "We can definitely go in there (at Louisiana Tech) and give them a good fight and hopefully get a victory out of it."
Hawaii’s lone lead of the night came when Vander Joaquim hit a free throw on the first possession of the game.
After that, the Rainbow Warriors (9-8, 0-5) committed 20 turnovers with 11 assists, shooting 38.1 percent from the floor — 4-for-19 from 3-point range — and were outrebounded 43-34.
NMSU (9-9, 3-1) limited the Rainbow Warriors to 21.4 percent shooting in the second half after leading by 13 at halftime. But it was the minutes Arnold got from underclassmen that he took away from the Pan American Center.
"They had a really nice run and we showed a little bit of fatigue in the middle part of the second half," Hawaii coach Gib Arnold said. "Then I went young and I put my freshmen in and they just played, which is nice to see. I’m going to take the positives out of that. That last 10 minutes was the way that we want to play."
While the effort of the younger players stood out, Johnson’s performance was one of few bright spots for the Rainbow Warriors from an individual standpoint.
He started the game 5-for-6 from the floor in the first half and knocked down all four of the team’s triples, finishing 4-for-12 from distance.
"Zane has been bringing it every night," Arnold said. "He has taken over the leadership role for this team and I’m pleased with that."
Joaquim finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds before fouling out and senior Bill Amis scored 10 points before fouling out.
"We always try to go inside first to open up the outside, but Bill got in foul trouble, so we had to fix the offense a little bit and set a little more ball screens and down screens," Johnson said.
Freshman Bobby Miles played 24 minutes, sophomore Joston Thomas scored eight points in 22 minutes and point Hiram Thompson committed four turnovers in 18 minutes. Freshman Trevor Wiseman and Bo Barnes also contributed while the game was already out of reach.
"That’s got to become our identity where up or down, we just play hard in that attack mode," Arnold said. "Whereas there was about 10 minutes in that second half where we were just retreating."
The Aggies led by four with 5:50 left in the first half when NMSU junior Troy Gillenwater checked in for the first time.
Gillenwater didn’t start the game after injuring an ankle during pre-game warmups, but he provided the Aggies with the spark they needed. Gillewater scored seven points to help the Aggies outscore Hawaii 17-8 to take a 13-point advantage into halftime.
"They said that he was going to sub late, but we expected him to play," Arnold said. "He’s such a good player, you knew he was going to immediately affect the game."
Gillenwater finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds in 18 minutes, getting to the rim and finishing with his left hand to spark a decisive 10-2 run that opened a 58-37 with 11:54 to play.
Johnson couldn’t point to specifics entering tomorrow’s contest between the last two winless teams in the league. But he did admit something has to change, even if it’s continuing to give young players minutes.
"It was the younger guys and they all play hard and if we are going to have to roll with that, then so be it," Johnson said. "It’s about playing hard. Not about coming down the court and being lackadaisical."
HAWAII STANDINGS AND BOXES
New Mexico State 82, Hawaii 64
Rainbow Warriors (9-8, 0-5 WAC)
Aggies (9-9, 3-1 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 — New Mexico State 42, Hawaii 29
3-point goals — Hawaii 4-19 (Johnson 4-12, Amis 0-1, Miles 0-1, Thompson 0-1, Ostrowski 0-1, Barnes 0-3). NMSU 6-15 (Sy 2-2, Castillo 2-4, Gillenwater 1-4, Laroche 1-3, Watson 0-1, Kabongo 0-1).
Steals — Hawaii 5 (Joaquim, Thomas, Ostrowski, Wiseman, Barnes). NMSU 7 (Kabongo 2, Laroche 2, Watson, Herig, Rahman). Blocked shots — Hawaii 3 (Miles 2, Thomas). NMSU 5 (Watson 4, Dixon, Rahman) Officials — Rick Hartzell, Chris Rastatter, Rick Batsell. A–5,522.
|New Mexico State||3||1||.750||1||9-9|
|San Jose State||1||4||.200||3 1/2||9-7|
New Mexico State 82, Hawaii 64
San Jose State 79, Louisiana Tech 74
Utah State 68, Boise State 59
Idaho at Cal State Bakersfield
Nevada at Boise State
Hawaii at Lousiana Tech
San Jose State at New Mexico State
Utah State at Fresno State