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Warrior effort comes up short

The end result may have been the same – a road loss at Utah State – but the Hawaii basketball team has clearly made significant strides from last year.

The Warriors gave conference-favorite Utah State all it could handle for 40 minutes before falling, 74-66, in the Western Athletic Conference opener at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum in Logan, Utah.

Hawaii cut an 11-point second half deficit down to two in the closing minutes, but the Aggies went 11 of 14 from the free-throw line in the final four minutes to secure the victory.

It was quite a difference from last year, when the Warriors lost at Utah State by 44 points.

Zane Johnson led the valiant Hawaii effort with 24 points, including 4-of-6 shooting from 3-point range. Hiram Thompson added 13 points and nine assists before fouling out with around two minutes remaining.

“We did some things pretty well tonight, we played hard and we played together,” Hawaii head coach Gib Arnold said. “We played tough (but) we didn’t finish the game. We didn’t come here to get beat. We came here to win.”

The Warriors trailed 41-30 early in the second half, but got as close as 48-46 with 12 minutes remaining, and kept it close the rest of the way. Hawaii got it to 63-61 with 2:55 remaining, but the Aggies went on an 11-5 run to close the game.

“We’re very disappointed in that,” Arnold said. “We felt like we could come in here and win one.”

The final statistics featured several anomalies.

For one, Hawaii shot a season-high 63.2 percent from the field, including 75 percent (12 of 16) in the second half. The Warriors also shot 8 of 14 from 3-point range for a season-best 57.1 percent.

However, Hawaii grabbed a season-low 13 rebounds — 25 below its average. Utah State won the battle of the boards, 32-13. Most damaging to Hawaii, the Aggies grabbed 18 offensive rebounds which led to 16 “second chance” points.

“We played pretty good defense, and we shot the ball real well,” Johnson said. “We had them beat, but we gave up all those rebounds and we only got 13. You can’t beat anybody if you get out-rebounded that much.”

Arnold added: “I don’t think we’re going to win many games with that. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a stat sheet where we only had 13 rebounds. That’s very disappointing. We just needed to get one or two of those at the end of the game and we have a chance to win.”

Utah State also dominated at the free throw line, going 25 of 30, while Hawaii went 10 of 15.

Tai Wesley, Utah State’s All-WAC forward, finished with game-highs of 27 points and 13 rebounds — which matched Hawaii’s team total.

Hawaii’s top rebounders — center Vander Joaquim and forward Joston Thomas — combined for just five rebounds, although both played limited minutes due to foul trouble. Joaquim finished with eight points on 4-of-4 shooting, and grabbed three rebounds in 19 minutes; Thomas also scored eight and grabbed two rebounds in 23 minutes.

Despite the loss, the Warriors left the arena knowing that they put a scare into the Aggies. Utah State was predicted to finish first in the WAC preseason polls, while Hawaii was picked last.

“We played well and showed Utah State we can play with them and that we’re going to be here to play the rest of the year and we’re going to compete for a championship,” Johnson said.

Hawaii dropped to 9-4 overall and 0-1 in the WAC. Utah State improved to 12-2 and 1-0.

The Warriors are scheduled to depart Logan, Utah, on Thursday for Reno, Nev., although snowstorms could affect their travel plans. Hawaii is scheduled to play another WAC road game at Nevada on Friday.

2 Comments

  1. I heard that Vander and Joston were in foul trouble in the first half, but 32-13 deficit in boards.. That’s a bit troubling..

    On a positive note, at least they controlled their turnovers..

  2. Articles like this are an example of quick, hpeflul answers.

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