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UH men’s basketball team drops 77-74 heartbreaker at Nevada

The Hawaii men’s basketball team came up just short in its last attempt at winning at Nevada as a member of the Western Athletic Conference, falling 77-74 to the Wolf Pack at the Lawlor Events Center in Reno, Nev., on Saturday.

UH threatened to post its first 3-0 mark in WAC play since the NCAA Tournament team of 2001-02 went 6-0 to open up WAC. The Rainbow Warriors (10-7, 2-1) held a single-digit lead for about 17 minutes of the second half.

The Rainbows shot 50 percent and built a seven-point second half lead behind the frontcourt of Vander Joaquim (22 points, career-high seven blocks) and Joston Thomas (21 points).

But Nevada (14-3, 4-0), which hadn’t lost a game since Nov. 25, rallied late behind point guard Deonte Burton to win its 11th straight game and retain hold of sole possession of first place in the WAC.

UNR remained perfect against UH in Reno at 15-0.

Burton scored seven straight points in a 10-0 run and the Pack went up 73-70 with 2:17 left on his 3-pointer. He finished with 25, while forward Olek Czyz scored 17 of his 24 points in the first half.

UH point guard Miah Ostrowski (nine assists) had a tying shot blocked with over a minute left, Burton drained a deep 2, and Zane Johnson (11 points, 3-for-10 on 3s) came back with a 3-poiner to make it 75-74 UNR with 19.4 seconds left.

After failing to get a steal, UH fouled Malik Story with about 11 seconds left. He made both foul shots and Johnson airballed a contested, tying 3-point attempt in the final seconds. After a dispute about a clock malfunction, Nevada inbounded with a little over a second left and ended the game.

Earlier in the half, Thomas hit two free throws then leaked out for a fast-break dunk to give UH a 46-41 lead with about 16 minutes to play.

Nevada rallied to tie it at 48 on a Burton basket, but UH got the next two buckets, including a Johnson 3, for a 53-48 lead with under 12 minutes.

Hauns Brereton hit a big corner 3-pointer with under 7 minutes left and Trevor Wiseman completed a three-point play for a seven-point lead with 6 minutes left, at 65-58. That would be the last time UH had control.

UH trailed 35-34 at halftime, but got a putback to beat the buzzer and give the ‘Bows some momentum going into the break.

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