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UH basketball team falls at Texas Tech

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    Hawaii’s Isaac Fleming and Texas Tech’s Devaugntah Williams fought for the ball in the first half Saturday in Lubbock, Texas.

The Hawaii basketball team rued a missed opportunity in its only road trip of the nonconference season, falling 82-74 at Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas, today.

UH (4-1) suffered its first loss of the season. The Rainbow Warriors got off to a hot start but fell victim to some mistakes and an unfriendly whistle.

Aaron Valdes scored 25 points to lead UH, while Isaac Fleming added a career-high 21.

Three UH starters — Stefan Jankovic, Roderick Bobbitt and Mike Thomas — fouled out. Texas Tech (4-1) of the Big 12 Conference shot 38 free throws compared to 19 for visiting Hawaii.

The Rainbows squandered an 11-point first-half lead over the last few minutes of the period, then fell behind soon after halftime.

Fleming came off the bench to ignite the Rainbow Warriors, hitting three 3-pointers in the first half — tying his career best — and scoring 14 points in the period.

After Tech fell behind, coach Tubby Smith went to a zone defense to slow down the UH offense. The Red Raiders went on an 8-1 run to close the first half and get within 41-40 at the break.

Tech rallied on some UH turnovers — including an unforced error on a baseline inbounds pass — to score six points in the last 48 seconds of the half, capped off by a Norense Odiase thunder dunk to beat the buzzer.

Guard Devaugntah Williams led the Raiders with 19 points, while Odiase added 16. Forward Zach Smith scored 15, and guard Justin Gray scored all of his 11 points at the line.

UH shot 42.4 percent from the field, but just 7-for-24 (29.2 percent) on 3-pointers.

Valdes ended a 3-point drought to get UH within 53-52 with under 14 minutes to play. Jankovic hit two free throws to put UH up for the last time, 54-53, with 13:27 to go, then picked up his fourth foul and checked out.

Texas Tech built a five-point lead, but Valdes made a corner 3 with 10:33 to play to get UH within 61-59.

Bobbitt was handed a technical foul with 10:19 to play, in addition to a personal foul, his fourth. Tech made four straight free throws on the play to extend its lead to 65-59.

UH had to try to mount a rally with two of its best players (Jankovic, Bobbitt) on the bench.

Quincy Smith scored in transition to cut it to four, then Thomas fouled out.

Valdes hit a deep 3 with 8:10 to play, making it a one-point game. UH had scoring opportunities at the line, but Smith missed two and Fleming missed the front end of a 1-and-1.

Jankovic and Bobbitt came back into the game with under five minutes to play, but meanwhile the Raiders extended their lead to six.

Bobbitt fouled out with 3:35 to play.

Jankovic hit a foul shot to get UH back within 73-69. UH followed up with a 3-point attempt by Sai Tummala, but he was off the mark. The Rainbows’ backup bigs struggled — Tummala shot 0-for-5 and Stevan Jovanovic went 1-for-7.

Jankovic fouled out with 1:24 to go.

Fleming connected on his career-best fourth 3 with 48 seconds left, getting UH within 77-72.

UH had to take fouls and the Red Raiders converted to close out the game.

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