LAS VEGAS >> A Bill Amis basket at the buzzer was waved off and Hawaii lost in heartbreaking fashion to San Jose State, 75-74, in the opening round of the Western Athletic Conference tournament in Las Vegas today.
SJSU guard Adrian Oliver hit the go-ahead basket, an 18-foot step-back jumper, with 5 seconds left. UH guard Miah Ostrowski immediately drove the length of the court and missed an off-balance shot, and it appeared for a moment that Amis’ tip-in bank shot off the miss was good. Amis sprinted across the court in celebration, only to be brought to his knees by the ruling seconds later.
UH’s season isn’t over. The Rainbow Warriors will host Portland of the West Coast Conference in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament on Tuesday.
Today marked UH’s fifth straight loss in WAC tournament games. Besides Oliver, 18-for-30 shooting on free throws doomed the Rainbows.
UH coach Gib Arnold lamented his team’s inability to get a critical stop for the third such time this year. The previous such losses came down to the buzzer in a loss at Cal Poly and very nearly so at Utah State.
“I thought the effort was there. I thought the team basketball was there,” Arnold said. “We got down there late and fought back, got ahead with under 30 seconds and needed a stop. Third time this year we’ve been in that situation, and we’re 0-for-3.”
“It’s tough,” added junior guard Zane Johnson, who scored 14 points. “Like Coach said, we’ve been in this situation before and for us not to pull it out, it hurt us.”
Oliver had 29 points on 9-for-22 shooting. Amis led UH with 23 points on 9-for-12 shooting. Ostrowski had eight assists and no turnovers.
Eighth-seeded SJSU (16-14) avenged two regular-season losses against fifth-seeded UH and will play Idaho in the quarterfinals.
UH led 42-37 at halftime, but Oliver hit a tough 3-pointer at the end of the shot clock for a 65-all tie that gave SJSU full momentum. UH trailed 73-68 with 1:50 to play, but the ‘Bows rallied for six straight points with 21.7 seconds left.
“I said, ‘Don’t even worry about the score,’ ” SJSU coach George Nessman said. “We do our best to put the score out of our minds. I think our guys did a good job of just keep grinding.”
Oliver drained the clock down to about 10 seconds before he made his move. He crossed over UH’s Trevor Wiseman and sidestepped to his left for the 18-footer, which was all net.
“That one kid just went off and had a heck of a night, and beat us,” Arnold said. “Oliver did a nice job. It was tough for us to guard him, we got in some foul trouble early. We’d done a really good job on him the first two games, the guys (Johnson and Wiseman) that had done that picked up some early fouls.”
UH forward Joston Thomas added 16 points in 16 minutes off the bench. Johnson hit two 3-pointers, moving him one behind Michael Kuebler’s single-season record 97 set in 2003-04.