A game for the ages still had to have a loser.
With innumerable big shots on both sides, Utah State had the last of them in fending off host Hawaii 89-84 in double overtime last night at the Stan Sheriff Center.
If the win-or-lose hero of this game was UH backup point guard Miah Ostrowski — who played and scored 15 points despite his father’s death on Wednesday — the villain was most certainly USU senior guard Brian Green, who had an answer (and 22 points) every time the Rainbows seemed destined to win it.
UH had chances to earn a four-game winning streak both in regulation and the first overtime, but couldn’t get the requisite stops. Green hit huge baskets both times to extend the game.
"Our effort was there … It was emotional in that locker room," UH coach Gib Arnold said. "But we were proud."
With chants of "Let’s go ‘Bows" rocking the Sheriff from the crowd of about 8,000, UH (12-9, 3-6 WAC) couldn’t quite knock off the three-time defending regular-season champion Aggies (20-2, 9-0), who earned a No. 25 ranking in this week’s ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll. It was USU’s 15th straight win overall and 24th straight in the WAC regular season.
Zane Johnson matched his career high of 25 points for UH, while Bill Amis added 15 points and 10 rebounds.
A huge call at the start of the second overtime had the Rainbow Warriors playing from behind — but they didn’t panic. Johnson was called for an intentional foul for hacking USU’s Tai Wesley on a basket inside. USU got four points out of the extended possession for a 77-73 lead.
UH surged back to go ahead 80-79 on a Johnson 3-pointer from the top of the arc, and Bo Barnes hit a free throw for a two-point lead with 1:26 to go in the second OT. But Nate Bendall hit a 16-footer to tie it, UH missed inside at the other end and Brockeith Pane had the go-ahead banker to make it 83-81 with 28.7 seconds to go.
UH missed the tying basket, but Amis got the offensive board and passed to Johnson, who was fouled on UH’s second effort. The WAC’s top free-throw shooter at nearly 90 percent missed one of two and UH was forced to foul with 11.1 seconds left in the second overtime.
The efficient Aggies were more than happy to play the foul game.
Pane made both free throws, and the Aggies elected to take a foul and put Ostrowski on the line rather than give up a 3. The UH guard made both and UH fouled Green, but he made both on the other end for an 87-84 lead.
The Aggies again employed the same tactic, fouling before the 3, and this time Ostrowski missed the first. He tried to throw it off the rim hard for an offensive rebound, but he failed to hit iron and it went to the Aggies by rule.
Arnold glowed about Ostrowski’s courage and resolve.
"Miah played as good a basketball game I’ve seen from anybody," Arnold said.
Ostrowski had several breathtaking, soaring layups, but his biggest plays were passes. He dished to Barnes for a corner 3-pointer and 66-64 lead with just over a minute to play in regulation, then hit Amis on a drive to the low post for a dunk and 71-68 advantage with 1:35 left in the first overtime.
"It was good fun," Ostrowski said. "It was a quality, good loss for our team. Very inspiring. But we know we can compete with them, and we could have had that game, in regulation and in overtime. … We just gotta push forward."
UH led 73-70 in that first overtime on two Ostrowski free throws, but USU’s Green wasn’t in the mood for losing. He buried a 28-footer to tie it up at 73, and Ostrowski couldn’t hit a 3 at the other end to win it.
In regulation, USU tied it up at 66 on a Green deep 2 — initially ruled a go-ahead 3 — with 39 seconds left. UH held for the last shot of regulation, but Amis was stymied from the high post and his leaning, lefty shot around Wesley came up short with 5 seconds left.
USU seized control of the game with an 11-0 run midway through the first half and led 33-27 at halftime. Hiram Thompson got UH back within a basket, 41-39, with a 3-point play with 13:20 left in the second half. But USU went on an 11-3 run to take a 52-42 lead with 10:45 left.
Johnson hit a pull-up 3-pointer and Ostrowski soared in for a layup to pull UH to within 60-59 with 4 minutes to play.
USU’s best player, senior forward Wesley, was saddled with foul trouble the entire game and fouled out in the second overtime with only 12 points. He put up 27 points and 13 rebounds in USU’s 74-66 win over UH in late December.
Johnson went out after taking an elbow to the temple with 13:54 left in the half. He wouldn’t return until the start of the second half, when UH trailed by six. But his rhythm was unaffected; he shot 9-for-15 and seemed to bail UH out time and time again with huge 3s. He shot 6-for-7 from deep.
Ostrowski entered the game for the first time with 12:07 left in the first half, getting a nice hand from the crowd. He ignited the arena with a steal on Pane and a sensational reverse layup to get UH within four points in the final minute of the period.
In what was prophetic for the rest of the game, Green had the final word of the half, scoring a second-chance basket inside to beat the halftime buzzer for a 33-27 USU lead.
|New Mexico State||6||3||.667||3||12-11|
|San Jose State||2||7||.222||7||10-10|
Utah State 89, Hawaii 84, 2ot
Louisiana Tech 70, Boise State 60
New Mexico State 73, Idaho 65
San Jose State 78, Fresno State 66
Nevada at Utah State
Hawaii at Boise State, 4 p.m. HST
New Mexico State at Fresno State
San Jose State at Idaho
NO. 25 UTAH STATE 89, HAWAII 84, 20T
|Aggies (20-2, 9-0)|
|Rainbow Warriors (12-9, 3-6)|
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 — Utah State 33, Hawaii 27.
3-point goals — Utah State 9-20 (Newbold 4-5, Green 3-8, Williams 2-4, Pane 0-3). Hawaii 8-15 (Johnson 6-7, Barnes 2-5, Thomas 0-1, Ostrowski 0-2).
Steals — Utah State 4 (Green, Jardine, Newbold, Pane). Hawaii 6 (Ostrowski 3, Amis 2, Wiseman). Blocked shots — Utah State 3 (Jardine 2, Bendall). Hawaii 6 (Amis 4, Joaquim 2). Officials — Ruben Ramos, Bobby Mcroy, Martin Cota. A — Not reported