Hawaii, which was predicted for last place in the nine-team Western Athletic Conference, clinched a spot in the league’s eight-team men’s basketball tournament with a 71-58 victory over Louisiana Tech on Thursday night.
A crowd of about 4,900 at the Stan Sheriff Center saw UH maintain control from start to finish.
UH improved to 16-10 and 6-7 in the WAC and is in sixth place in the conference. LaTech fell to 12-17 and 2-11.
Forward Bill Amis led Hawaii with 18 points and guard Zane Johnson scored 16. Guard Miah Ostrowski, making his first home start, scored 12 and added a team-high seven assists. Center Vander Joaquim scored 11 points and grabbed a team-high seven rebounds.
Guard Lonnie Smith led LaTech with 12 points. Antwond Roshell added 10 off the bench.
Even if the Rainbows were to lose their remaining three WAC games at home against New Mexico State tomorrow and on the road next week at San Jose State and Fresno State, they would avoid last place in the conference and missing out on the tournament.
Hawaii dominated the first half as the Rainbow Warriors shot 65 percent and the Bulldogs 32 percent. UH also enjoyed an 18-10 rebounding edge in the first 20 minutes.
The Rainbows never trailed, and built an 11-2 lead by raiding the LaTech passing lanes. Johnson and Ostrowski both turned steals into points, Johnson with a transition layup and Ostrowski with free throws after a steal and breakaway.