Misery came home with the Hawaii men’s basketball team.
Until now, UH’s alarming slump came with the disclaimer that the Rainbow Warriors’ woes were happening on the road, at some of the farthest-flung locales of the Western Athletic Conference.
Idaho extended UH’s season-worst losing streak to four games with a demoralizing 82-63 blowout of the Rainbow Warriors before a crowd of about 4,000 on Thursday night at the Stan Sheriff Center.
The ‘Bows had a chance to seize third place with the WAC tournament right around the corner, but instead fell into a tie for fifth with Louisiana Tech after yielding more than 80 points for the fourth straight game.
Key: Idaho rolls to a 45-27 lead at halftime and never looks back.
Next: UH vs. Utah State, 7 p.m. Saturday, OC Sports (Ch. 12)
A record-setting performance by Zane Johnson — the senior guard scored a team-high 18 points and passed Predrag Savovic for UH’s all-time 3-point mark — was not enough to stem the troubling tide. Still, UH (15-14, 6-7 WAC) resurrected itself briefly, getting an 18-point halftime deficit down to nine with 15:37 to play.
Then UH withered against Idaho’s superior execution down the stretch, as the Vandals shot 51 percent to the ‘Bows’ 34.9 percent, and outrebounded Hawaii 46-27.
When UH coach Gib Arnold was hit with a technical for reacting to a call with under 5 minutes left, it was effectively over. Arnold was quiet but resolute afterward.
"The season’s not over with," he said. "Big game on Saturday (senior night vs. Utah State) and obviously the tournament (afterward). We gotta put ourselves in position to win this game and then make a run in the tournament."
The ‘Bows can still earn the fourth seed with a defeat of Utah State (16-14, 7-6). Another loss, however, sends UH all the way down to sixth, and into a first-round rematch with Idaho (17-12, 8-5).
After Thursday night, that no longer can be considered a favorable matchup. UH matched Idaho in execution in the ‘Bows’ 76-70 win in Moscow, last month. But the crispness just was not there in this one — at least for the hosts, despite a season-low seven team turnovers and nine assists by Miah Ostrowski.
Idaho guard Deremy Geiger struggled and UH’s Vander Joaquim flourished in the previous meeting, but it flip-flopped this time. Geiger exploded for 20 points, while Joaquim fouled out with a season-low four.
In the decisive sequence — after Johnson cut it to nine on his third 3-pointer — the Vandals responded with consecutive corner 3s by Stephen Madison (17 points) and Geiger, pushing their lead back to 17 with less than 14 minutes left.
"They were really hot," Arnold said. "That goes back to aggression … they were the aggressor tonight. That’s too bad. It’s frustrating. They built up a big enough lead in the first 20 minutes to coast to a victory. … We made some runs, but couldn’t finish it, couldn’t pile it on enough."
Shaquille Stokes dropped off a pass for Johnson at the top of the arc, and the senior hit his fourth of the night (and 179th career) to pass Savo with 13 minutes to go.
UH got to within 62-51 on a Stokes quick-trigger 3 with 8:20 left, but Geiger came right back with a 3. Stokes kept at it, hitting a corner trey, and Joaquim added a free throw to cut it to 65-55 with less than 7 minutes left.
This time, point guard Landon Tatum hit from distance, and UH got no closer than 12 the rest of the way.
"We just gotta keep talking on ‘D,’ " said junior forward Joston Thomas, who scored 16. "Sometimes we get fatigued a little bit. …gotta get back to having fun. There’s a lot of grimaces on a lot of people’s faces."
Idaho coach Don Verlin was ecstatic after his team won in Honolulu for the fourth time in five years and clinched the WAC’s third seed. The league’s most efficient 3-point shooting team went 10-for-21 (47.6 percent) from long range as UH dropped to 3-3 at home in WAC play.
The Vandals sent as many as four players to the glass on shots and hit Joaquim with effective defensive switches.
"Our competitive spirit tonight was really, really good," Verlin said. "We can’t play any better than that. I thought our team played about as well as you can play."
The Vandals made 12 of their first 15 shots, including 4-for-5 from long range, for a 31-19 lead.
It got no better from there. During one stretch late in the half, UH failed to draw iron on five straight shots — three airballs, one off the backboard and one blocked.
Idaho shot 57.1 percent in the first half and took a 45-27 lead into the break.
Backup point guard Bobby Miles was inactive for team reasons. He will be available on Saturday, Arnold said.
IDAHO 82, HAWAII 63
Vandals (17-12, 8-5 WAC)
Rainbow Warriors (15-14, 6-7 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 — Idaho 45, Hawaii 27
3-points goals — Idaho 10-21 (Geiger 4-9, Hill 3-3, McChristian 1-1, Tatum 1-3, Madison 1-5). Hawaii 7-17 (Johnson 4-8, Stokes 2-5, Ostrowski 1-3, Jefferson 0-1). Steals — Idaho 3 (McChristian 2, Tatum). Hawaii 8 (Joaquim 3, Jefferson 2, Thomas, Ostrowski, Rozitis). Blocked shots — Idaho 1 (Bandoumel). Hawaii 2 (Thomas, Joaquim). Technical — Hawaii (bench). Officials — Brad Ferrie, Duane Allen, John Paul Guerrero. A — Not reported.
|New Mexico State||9||4||.692||3||22||9|
|San Jose State||1||12||.077||11||9||20|
Idaho 82, Hawaii 63
Utah State 71, San Jose State 61
Nevada 65, New Mexico State 61
Louisiana Tech 75, Fresno State 70
Utah State at Hawaii, 7 p.m.
New Mexico State at Fresno State
Idaho at San Jose State
Louisiana Tech at Nevada