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Fourth straight loss worse than the sum of its parts

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Getting mowed down in Missoula, Mont., is one thing.

Lambasted in Las Cruces, N.M., is something else.

And run over in Ruston, La., is regrettable.

But getting buried in the Stan Sheriff Center?

Yes, this is what it has come to. On a night when the University of Hawaii men’s basketball team needed a victory in the worst way, that’s pretty much how the Rainbow Warriors went about it in a head-shaking 82-63 loss to Idaho on Thursday.

Even in a building that usually brings out the best in them, the ’Bows were unable to summon the ingredients to end what, at four games, has become their longest, most perplexing losing streak of the season, if not head coach Gib Arnold’s tenure.

And because they were left struggling on so many fronts — rebounding, defense, free-throw shooting, etc. — the ’Bows are 15-14 (6-7 WAC) and have said goodbye to hopes of grabbing the third seed for next week’s Western Athletic Conference tournament in Las Vegas.

For all intents and purposes, that dream went the errant way of their 3-for-16 shooting (1-for-5 from 3-point range) the final 7 minutes, 14 seconds of the game.

And because it did, the best the ’Bows can hope for now is fourth place, if they beat Utah State in Saturday night’s regular-season finale. Otherwise — and you hesitate to contemplate the possibility — they could free-fall all the way to sixth.

At a TIME when the ’Bows should be peaking, they are stumbling and showing no signs of being able to get up. A 1-minute, 34-second stretch near the end of the first half in which they missed five consecutive shots and did not draw iron on any of them said a lot about their current state. So, too, did that final 3-for-16 stretch at the end that sent the remnants of a crowd of maybe 4,000 streaming to the exits with 5 minutes remaining.

Arnold showered the court with paper shreds in the waning minutes of the first half and drew a technical foul with 4 minutes, 39 seconds left in the second. In both cases, you suspect, it was frustration with the play as much as anything else that he was venting.

While they finally licked their turnover problem — committing just seven after averaging 20 a game in three previous losses — the breakdowns at the free-throw line (12-for-21) and on the boards (out-rebounded 46-27) were critical.

On a night when Zane Johnson finally came out of his funk, connecting on six of 13 shots (4-for-8 from 3-point range) for 18 points, setting the UH record for 3s in the process, center Vander Joaquim largely disappeared with a season-low four points.

Afterward, a euphoric Idaho coach Don Verlin struggled to find the words to describe the Vandals’ triumph. Meanwhile, Arnold was struggling to discover where the ’Bows’ game has gone.

For UH, there aren’t many more nights to find an answer.

Reach Ferd Lewis at or 529-4820.

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