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Short-handed Warriors come up short

The Hawaii basketball team went down on the opening night of the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic, but it went down swinging.

Using just just seven players, the Warriors hustled and scrapped, but ultimately lost to Florida State, 70-62, at the Stan Sheriff Center.

“This team has never quit and they’re not going to,” Hawaii head coach Gib Arnold said. “It’s a team that has a lot of passion and plays the game hard, plays the game together. (But) we did some things that hurt us.”

The Warriors had their worst rebounding game of the season, shot just 35.3 percent from the field, and committed 23 turnovers. Still, they cut a 17-point second half deficit down to eight in the closing seconds, and received an appreciative ovation from the crowd at the end of the game.

“That has to be a constant thing in basketball – you never can give up in basketball,” sophomore forward Joston Thomas said. “If we just could have got that clicking in the start of the second (half) or middle of the first we would have been OK.”

It was the opening night of the Diamond Head Classic, and the Warriors will not have time to dwell on the loss. Hawaii will face Utah in a consolation game at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday.

The Warriors dropped to 7-3 with their first loss this season in the Sheriff Center. Florida State improved to 10-2, and will face Butler in a semifinal game on Thursday.

Zane Johnson led the Hawaii effort with a career-high 24 points, including 6-of-11 shooting from 3-point range, and 6 of 6 from the free throw line. Bo Barnes got shut out in the first half, but led the late rally attempt with 17 points in the second half.

“It’s good that we didn’t give up, but if we cut back on our turnovers and we rebound on the defensive glass, it’s a totally different game,” Johnson said. “It’s disappointing, but we have to move on.”

Thomas added 12 points and five rebounds. True freshman Bobby Miles played all 40 minutes at point guard, and finished with two points and six assists.

Senior point guard Hiram Thompson sat out with a back injury, and senior forward Bill Amis sat out his sixth consecutive game with a foot injury.

“Had to,” Arnold said of playing Miles the entire game. “And he’s going to go 40 tomorrow night … he’s not coming out and he knows it.”

Hawaii had just eight players available, and six of them played 24 minutes or more. In contrast, the Seminoles were constantly rotating players in and out, and wound up using 11 players to Hawaii’s seven.

“We’re conditioned,” Johnson said. “We want to play 40 minutes and we’re capable of playing 40 minutes, so we can’t make any excuses there. It all comes down to boxing out and turnovers.”

Indeed, Florida State grabbed 23 offensive rebounds, which led to 24 “second chance” points. The Seminoles also scored 25 points off the 23 Hawaii turnovers.

“We gave up 23 offensive rebounds to an outstanding team that rebounds well and is long,” Arnold said. “You can’t give a team like that 23 more shots. And we turned the ball over too many times. But we guarded them. We held them to 32 percent.”

Florida State led by as many as 14 points early in the game, but Hawaii rallied to make it close just before halftime. The Warriors got as close as six, and then trailed, 33-25, at intermission.

The Seminoles increased the lead to 58-41 with 8:09 remaining in the second half before Hawaii chipped away behind the shooting of Barnes.

Derwin Kitchen led the Seminoles with 20 points. Chris Singleton grabbed 12 rebounds to lead Florida State to a 48-33 advantage on the boards. It was the first time this season that the Warriors were out-rebounded by an opponent.

The Seminoles entered the game as one of the top defensive teams in the country, and Hawaii’s 11 3-pointers were the most Florida State has surrendered all season. Also, Hawaii’s field goal percentage of .353 was actually better than what the Seminoles normally allow (.337).

“We need to win these games,” Arnold said. “That’s what this program wants to do. We want to be able to come in here and beat teams like that, especially on our home floor, and one day win this tournament.”

(Photos by Brandon Flores)

Wednesday’s results
Washington State 83, Mississippi State 57
Baylor 83, San Diego 50
Butler 74, Utah 62
Florida State 70. Hawaii 62

Thursday’s schedule
11:30 a.m.—Mississippi State vs. San Diego
1:30 p.m. – Washington State vs. Baylor
5 p.m. – Butler vs. Florida State
7:30 p.m. – Hawaii vs. Utah

1 Comment

  1. It was mostly a lopsided loss, but the team played hard. And they hung in there, for the most part, despite not having their two leaders (Amis and Thompson), and playing two freshmen and two sophomores.

    Bobby Miles’ inexperience was evident, but I think he showed he has good ball-handling skills and a calmness under pressure. He probably will be real solid in a couple years.

    Overall, it was a loss, but the potential of the team, and their effort, made the game enjoyable and certainly worth watching.

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